You have a fun night planned. Reservations are made at a fun, upscale restaurant. You spent some time agonizing over what to wear, but you finally picked out that perfect dress and hot shoes. (Unless you are a man, then picking your outfit was much easier.)
You all arrive at the restaurant, get a great table and are handed the menus. Suddenly, stress floods your mind. You’ve been working hard to lose those last pounds and you know that restaurant food is notorious for sneaking in huge amounts of calories. Your eyes frantically scan the menu, flickering back and forth between the delicious main dishes, desserts, and alcohol….and the salads. Finally, you can’t put off ordering any longer and you either get a meal that looks delicious, but leaves you about to burst and feeling sluggish…or a dry side salad that leaves you much less than satisfied and wondering why you go out to eat at all.
If you’ve been there, listen up! You can still go out and enjoy dinner dates while still losing weight, no dry salads involved. I know my clients and I all love going out, but we also like getting results from our workouts and diet. This is what will allow you to get both!
There’s a trick to it, you must learn the foods to avoid, and the foods you should look for.
What makes restaurant food tricky is often the hidden ingredients. Steamed veggies sounds innocent, until you find out they have been steamed and then topped with loads of melted butter. That salad looks healthy as can be, until you realize that the dressing is loaded with unhealthy oils and high fructose corn syrup! The empty carb pasta, desserts, and huge sugary alcoholic drinks are more obvious enemies in a fat loss plan.
Foods that you should order when out to eat are going to fall into two basic groups. Protein, and produce. Protein is usually quite easy to find when you go out to eat, but also make sure it has been prepared in a healthy way. Look for meat that has been grilled or broiled, and ideally is grass fed and organic (not always possible, but great when it’s available). Some good options are lean cuts of steak, bison, chicken, fish (especially wild Salmon, high in Omega 3’s), lobster, scallops, pork, and eggs.
When it comes to produce, we want to get a lot of vegetables. The more color and variety the better, you want to get deep green, vitamin rich spinach or kale, not iceberg lettuce! Look for produce that is in season. Also try new varieties when you have the chance. Have you ever had parsnips? Celery root? There are loads of healthy veggies to try. Steamed vegetables are just fine too, just make sure they don’t get drowned in butter. If you have the option, a big, huge salad full of colorful chopped veggies and mixed with plenty of filling protein, dressed with a simple mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, with a bit of sea salt and ground pepper on top, is perfect.
Of course salads are not your only choice. You could have many things, as long as you focus on eating a healthy lean protein source, and fresh produce. You can always have a bowl of fresh cut fruit for dessert too! Eating this way when you are out to eat will ensure you are getting the highest nutrients and freshest foods, and avoiding hidden sugars.
Of course, if you keep the portion sizes small, and are eating healthy in general, you are able to spoil yourself once in a while. Just try and keep your splurges sensible. You want to have dessert? Fine, but split it with someone. And if you love having a drink or two when you go out, stick with alcohol that has a low calorie count, and don’t drink too much (because you will then be much more relaxed and might eat 10 times worse than you intended!) Wines that are low calorie; white zinfandel, which averages around 80 calories for 4 oz., and chardonnays which are about 90 calories for 4 oz. Wine spritzers are also lower calorie because they have less alcohol. 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories, so the higher the alcohol content, the higher calorie the drink.
Now you know what to eat and what to avoid at restaurants. Enjoy your nights out and have fun! For more information on living a healthy lifestyle, join me and other female speakers at Delicias restaurant in the coming month for the upcoming series of Women’s Empowerment Luncheons. If you want to contact me, email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring at (760) 533-0667.