How many of us are actively trying to lose weight?
A 2014 Gallup Poll says that about 26% of us are really trying, even though half of us say we want to lose weight.
Only about 40% of us say we are happy to stay at our current weight.
Not surprising, women are more often unhappy with their weight and are actively trying to reduce it, compared to men (even though 56% of men are estimated to be over their ideal weight).
We know we should watch our calories and fat, perhaps even cut back on carbohydrates, increase our water, decrease our portion sizes and become more physically active.
All of these interventions will help us manage our weight.
Dining Out – Weight Loss Obstacle
What might become an obstacle we struggle to overcome is our habit of eating many of our meals out.
In 2013 it was found that 58% of us admit to eating out at least once a week, 14% dine out two to three times a week and 4% reported eating out more than three times a week. That number is certainly higher today as we are often eating out for lunch more than those statistics show!
Some of our kids eat fast foods every day and someone is driving them there!
The reality is that we are busier than ever so there is not always time for a home cooked meal. We often opt for a find it fast and easy to buy lunch instead of brown bagging it and enjoy treating ourselves to dinner on the weekend to relax.
Let’s not even think about our tailgating and holiday eating when someone else plans the menu!
How Can We Eat Out On a Calorie Budget?
Even though we may be watching what we eat, counting calories or selecting foods that are lower in one nutrient or another, we shouldn’t let dining out derail our health goals.
We can still eat out and not feel like our diets or waistlines have to suffer.
There are many things we can do when we eat out, no matter what type of restaurant we choose, including fast food, sit down meals or even the vending machine!
We have to take personal responsibility for our choices because we can just as easily decide not to choose wisely as make good decisions.
We have to realize that our health and weight management goals are important and we are worth not giving in. It takes a lot of gym time to overcome 500 extra calories every time you eat out.
Tips for Dining Out on a Calorie Budget
There are several ways you can opt for lower calories when you dine out no matter where you choose to eat.
Here are a few suggestions for you to try or that could be reminders for you to finally put into practice:
- When you get full plate, move half to a to-go box before you start eating to use as a leftover meal later in the week. Ask for the to-go container to be served with the meal.
- Always get dressings on the side, and even some of the sauce, so you can add to your taste without overdoing the fat and calories.
- Choose water flavored with lemon or lime wedges instead of sweetened beverages. Remember, cocktails made with a mixer have calories without nutrition.
- Request side dishes of steamed vegetables or a side salad instead of other options, including those that are fried.
- Use technology to your advantage by learning about the restaurant menu online before you go. Make a habit of looking at the full menu so you can see your options before you visit. Being prepared will help you avoid making a quick decision that might not be good for your weight or health goals.
- Understand the terms used on menus and choose grilled, roasted, steamed or stir fry options instead of fried, smothered or country-style choices that are usually higher in fat and calories.
- Ask for low calorie mayonnaise or sauces – or refuse them altogether – especially at fast food restaurants. Be sure to add lettuce, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and even avocado to your sandwiches.
- Select fruit or yogurt parfait as your dessert instead of calorie laden sweets or just have a bite of someone else’s.
- Pace yourself and enjoy your company to allow your body to signal you that it is full so you can avoid mindlessly overeating. It is easy to get caught up in conversation and not realize the entire basket of bread and butter is gone.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about cooking ingredients and techniques or make special requests, such as to ‘hold the salt’ or substitute items that don’t fit into your health plan.
Enjoy Dining Out Without Regret
Enjoying a meal with friends and family should be a happy experience and not a reason to toss out our health goals, which we end up regretting the next day.
Savoring healthy food can be more satisfying than eating the unhealthy meals that once filled your plate.
Your body will thank you too with stamina, energy, and wellness for the future activities in which you truly want to participate with your family for years to come.