Monday, January 21, 2013

Eating Out While Dieting

In today's Society, eating out has become a serious custom among Americans.  I don't know about you, but both my daughter and I enjoy the occasional restaurant visit - where I can get a break from cooking, and my daughter can have anything she chooses to eat for dinner.  The problem is, most entrees begin in the 900 calorie range, and can go up to 2000 (which is the max calories/day a non-dieter should consume) depending on where you choose to eat! YIKES!!  Not to mention that some restaurants don't even provide you with the nutritional value menu - if not requested.  So, do yourself a favor, the next restaurant you visit (fast food or sit down), ask for a nutritional menu and skim across your favorite items.  I want you to look for the calorie, fat, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar content.  You will be absolutely amazed, and probably disgusted, at what you've been consuming all these years; but knowledge is the first step toward making better lifestyle choices!

The first thing to consider while eating out is:  PORTION CONTROL.  What many people fail to realize is, in America, restaurant portions are at least 2 servings, and should not be fully consumed in one sitting.  Therefore, when ordering your meal, you should try to opt for the lunch (or half) portions - if available.  If not, then request that the server bring you a take out box with your meal so that you can immediately pack away half of your entree to prevent yourself from over-eating!  It may seem ridiculous to everyone else sitting at your table, but if you're like me, you will lose track of how much you've eaten while being caught up in conversation.  And before you know it, you've eaten the entire plate, your stomach is buldging, and the guilt begins to follow!  Do whatever it takes to prevent over-eating - you'll be happy that you did!  Also, rule of thumb when you're choosing a menu item is:  stay away from the pastas (if you can), and dishes with a lot of sauces - these are where the bulk of your calories lie.  Those calories could be better spent by adding an additional portion of meat or vegetables - to prevent you from being hungry again within the next hour.  Often times you can personalize your entree by swapping out sauces, replacing fries with vegetables/fruit, or choosing brown rice over white rice.  Swapping out fattening choices for more nutritious, lower calorie options can really help you in the long run - plus it allows you to eat more (food) for less (calories)!

You should also be cautious about your DRINK CHOICE during your meal.  If you are tired of drinking water, and absolutely need a tasty beverage, your best bet is unsweetened iced tea with lemon - or a diet soda, if you must.  I try my best to stay away from diet drinks these days, since you're swapping out real sugar for mechanically processed substitutes - which also have their downfalls.  When in doubt, I go for the real thing - or better yet, ask for some honey!  If it's been one of those days, and you just have to have a cocktail, then be extremely cautious about your alcoholic drink of choice.  Alcoholic beverages are LOADED with calories.  The worst of all are those fruity mixed drinks that we all love so much.  Rule of thumb:  STAY AWAY FROM DRINKS WITH UMBRELLAS!!! lol.  Those are the Mai Tais, blended Daquiris, etc. that will end up ruining you in the end.  My advice is to opt for the skinny drinks - if available.  Those are the ones with less added juices - which are loaded with sugars.  Or choose a glass of red wine - which is somewhat high in calories, but the alcohol in wine is converted from natural sugars (from grapes) as opposed to the added sugars used in hard liquor.

Above all of the tips I've provided, the most important is to PLAN AHEAD!  If you know you will be attending a restaurant later in the evening - perhaps for a friend's birthday, or other special occasion, etc. - you should put in an extra work out in the morning.  As my cousin used to tell me - "you can eat whatever you want, just pay for it first" - meaning:  work your butt off in the gym in the morning, & put at least 600 extra calories in the bank, then you now have 600 extra calories to eat during the day!  That's 1800 calories you can consume for the day - for all of you 1200 calorie/day dieters!  Plus, if you watch what you eat during breakfast and lunch, you can easily have 900-1100 calories left to splurge for dinner!  It's all about planning ahead, and a little sacrifice, of course.  Just because you're dieting doesn't mean you have to miss out on life's pleasures...  Just do the best that you can to make better food choices and try to exercise each day - even if it's only for 15 minutes.  And if at the end of the day you end up over your daily calories, don't obsess about it!  Try to put in a 15 minute workout before bed, perhaps do a few sets of crunches, and try again tomorrow.  There is no such thing in failing as long as you keep getting back up and trying again!

Good luck on your next dining out experience!  And don't forget to enjoy yourself! =)

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