At times we cannot avoid eating out and have to give in to some inescapable situations. Eating out is a social norm, at the same time it gives us immense pleasure of consuming our favorite food no matter how many extra calories we store as extra pounds in our body.
In today's scenario where both husband and wife are working, eating out has become a necessity rather than a choice. The frequency of eating out is not less than once or twice a week; in worst cases it may be everyday…if you are into a job that includes having dinner with business partners over deals or discussions. But no need to worry as where there is a will…we all know, there is always a way. If we cannot avoid those meals, we have to find out a way to keep them within our calorie limits.
The key is to plan every lunch and dinner which you are going to eat out at a restaurant. Planning is the smartest way to get desired result. Let us count the different steps in a whole process of eating out.
If we can organize ourselves and plan the above mentioned steps smartly then eating out will not mean extra calories, extra pounds and extra time on your treadmill. Rather, you will be enjoying your food without a fling of guilt later.
Step 1 : At Home
Find out a list of restaurants and food joints that offer foods which you would like to have. After choosing the restaurants and food joints, go to the websites and find out the menu. You may also request for a faxed copy of the menu. Decide the food items from the menu you would love to eat. For this, ask yourself what you wish to eat today and look for the dishes accordingly and match with your calorie chart. Look for alternatives to specific items which you would like to have so that you do not have to search in the menu later and get trapped into temptations. After choosing the menu and restaurant, reserve your table so that you do not have to wait later. Waiting will increase your hunger and the possibility of breaking your dietary limits increases that way.
Step 2 : Before leaving the house
Do not leave the house hungry. Eat a healthy snack like a fruit salad, or small vegetable salad to avoid pre-meal munching. Take some whole wheat or rye crackers and packets of your favorite low calorie salad dressing with you. You will need them later.
Step 3 : Choose the right restaurant
If you failed to do your homework on finding the correct restaurant for you, here are the things you should keep in mind; avoid places where they offer only a particular type of food genre. There you have less option and so you are more susceptible to wrong type of foods. Choose restaurants with variety of food items, where you will find it easier to choose your type of food. Again, never go to a place where entertainment is more in focus than food. Most of the time what they offer is fatty, fried and huge. You can trust fish restaurants and those with wide-ranging salad bar as they have healthy options.
Step 4 : Sit down and order
When you get your table, sit down and order water at first and start sipping slowly. This will ward off your hunger till the time your meal arrives. This is important, as the smell of food around you will make you hungrier and you may start eating the free munchies that show up right away. Let me tell you that the rolls, bread baskets, tortilla chips and Chinese noodles belong to the high calorie food. You can ask for healthy munchies like rye or whole wheat bread or rolls, whole wheat crackers, melba toast etc. If you have done your homework correctly, then you can take out your own packet of whole wheat or rye cracker and start munching.
You are now all set to look for what to eat. If you have not done your homework, then choose a la carte from the menu. Combos, platters come with extras that you may like to avoid. You can combine a group of side dishes to make a great meal and fruits as your appetizer. Ask your server about the size of the dish which is important for your diet. Tell him that you do not want your food to be cooked in butter, cream sauces or oil. Here is a way to know high calorie, and high fat dishes…the color of high calorie dish would be brown, beige, white or pale yellow, lower the calorie and fat means brighter color.
The best way is to order one course at a time. At first, eat a healthy appetizer; wait to order a soup or salad till you finish it. Then order your main course. This is logical too…while ordering you were hungry, but do you remain hungry in a same way after having eaten your appetizer and soup? That time you may not like a pile of fried lamb as an entrée in front of you. So, take your time, eat your food and take pleasure in every bite.
Step 5 : Appetizers
It is important to have an appetizer because it will hold you back from binging on heavy food and eating load of calories. Opt for fruit , steamed seafood, smoked salmon or a small vegetable tray, broth-based soups or consommé as a starter. Avoid fried and breaded appetizers, and keep away from those with dips. As avocado is high fat food, so take it easy on the guacamole. Prefer bbq sauce, ketchup, mustard, taco or salsa sauce over tartar sauce, mayonnaise, or any creamy sauces or dips.
Step 6 : Soups & salads
High fiber soups and salads are best way to add nutrients to your meal. Avoid creamy soups and opt for broth-based soups, best choices of soup are wonton, minestrone, beef barley, consommé, gazpacho, tortilla, and even chicken noodle or vegetable.
If you see grated cheeses, eggs, creamy dressings, bacon, croutons, pasta salad, potato salad and macaroni salad, just let them go…eat salads with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced carrots, snap peas, nuts, raisins, fruit, garbanzo beans, and other fresh produce. If you do not find a low calorie salad dressing and have not carried it from home, squeeze e lemon and add a touch of oil in it.
Step 7 : Main course
The entrée is the huge collection of calories in your meal. If you wish to play safe in choosing the right dish, make good choices on the preparation of a particular dish and the sauces used in it. Let us differentiate the good and bad preparation words for you. The people who are dieting, for them the good preparation words are grilled, baked, steamed, roasted, broiled stir, fried, poached, blackened and bad preparation words are breaded, buttery, buttered, pan-fried, , fried, creamed, scalloped, a la mode and au gratin. While ordering pasta with a cream sauce, ask the kitchen to use less cream. Actually sauces made of milk, cream, cheese, oil and mayonnaises are better to be avoided. Palatable and healthier options are marinar a and tomato-based sauces.
If you are a non vegetarian then it is important for you to know about lean and fatty meats. All types of fishes are lean and contain healthy fat that is good for heart. Then comes chicken or white meat, it is fairly lean particularly when skin and fat is removed. We must remember that white is leaner than any type of red meat. Pork is quite lean excluding bacon, sausage, and ribs. Ground beef products are high in fat and calorie. It is always better to avoid red meat as much as possible.
Check the serving size, recommended serving size of meat is of 3-4 ounces. Always leave some on the plate when you order a 9 ounce steak. Again eating vegetable dishes does not mean that it will always be lower in fat and calorie. Avoid vegetarian dishes loaded with cheese nuts and eggs or meat.
Step 8 : Side Dishes
It is good to order as many vegetable dishes as possible as side dish, which are steamed, boiled or stewed. Ask your server not to add extra butter or oil. If you like potato, take one or two baked, roasted or boiled ones. Order plain rice or noodles instead of anything fried and chocked in butter. Do not consider coleslaw which is frequently mistaken for a low calorie option while it can really be high in calories. Make a rule while you eat out; never eat without vegetables on your plate.
Step 9 : Meal on table
While eating your meal make sure that you eat slowly and stop in between to take a sip of water. Stop eating and ask yourself if you are hungry, if not, then why are you eating more? When you think you are done, keep your utensils aside and busy your hands in something else, like take up a magazine, or just hold the hands of your date…so that you do not pick at the left out on your plate. Remember to note down the dishes if you have found any healthy option in the restaurant. Next time you will find it easy to make a healthy choice.
Step 10 : Desserts
Fruits as desserts are best options when it is not with whipped cream and syrup. If you can watch the sugar content in sorbet or frozen yogurt, it can make great alternative to ice cream, also lemon meringue pie, or other meringue pies, are generally decent choices. If you cannot avoid the craving for an ice cream, opt for a plain one and prepare yourself for half an hour extra time for work out next day.