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Eating in restaurants can be convenient and fun, but so many who are on a weight loss journey try to avoid restaurants at all costs as they believe it’s not possible to enjoy restaurant food while sticking to weight loss goals. Unfortunately, many more won’t even start a weight loss journey as they are required to dine out regularly due to work and travel, and it’s commonly thought that weight loss is impossible with frequent restaurant visits. You can, in fact, meet your wellness goals even if you’re a self-proclaimed foodie or your work and travel requires business luncheons and meals on the road. Below I give you six key concepts to employ when eating in restaurants so you can still lose the weight.
Skip the Bread Basket
I know this can be easier said than done but two pieces of bread with butter adds up to 400 calories and consuming 400 somewhat empty calories before the meal even begins will not be conducive for your weight loss goals. To avoid the temptation of warm buttery bread calling your name, kindly ask your server not to bring any over.
Replace Rice, Pasta, and Potato Side Dishes with Vegetables
A standard restaurant meal may be chicken, fish, or steak with a green vegetable and side of pasta, rice, or a loaded baked potato. Most restaurants will replace those high-carb side dishes with another vegetable or small salad at no extra charge. Doing so will cut your carbohydrates and calories down by 25 percent or even more!
Use Oil and Vinegar for Salad Dressing
It happens all too often--we try to make the best choice for our weight loss goals by ordering a salad and it’s loaded with so much high-calorie dressing that it actually does more damage than good. Ordering your salad with no dressing and then asking for plain oil and vinegar on the side is sure to make almost every salad a healthy and weight-friendly choice. Not to mention, a lot of flavor is still packed into such a simple dressing--for an added kick, top with freshly squeezed lemon as well!
Eliminate Bread-Based Dishes
I’m not saying you have to completely steer clear from your favorite burger, but if you ask for it to be lettuce wrapped then you will cut around 50 grams of carbohydrates from your meal. Choosing to go “protein-style” with any burger or sandwich is still a delicious alternative that will assist with weight loss goals.
If It’s Huge, Take it Home
The majority of restaurant meals are enormous and offer far more calories than we need in one sitting. If that’s the case (and it usually is), pack up half your meal and take it home. This way you get to enjoy your meal for a second time and it’s a free and convenient lunch at work on the following day.
Ask for the Nutrition Menu
If you’re eating at a national restaurant chain, they are required to have the “nutrition menu” on site. Be sure to check this out as many healthy sounding dishes have upwards of 2,000 calories, so these menus can really help with making the best choice. Not to mention, even if something sounds delicious, seeing a listing of 2,000 calories, 200 grams of carbohydrates and an abundance of sugar and sodium just might make you think "not worth it!"
I’m not trying to take all of the fun out of your restaurant experience--if you’re going out for a special occasion, by all means, indulge in your favorites! If you’re someone who is constantly required to eat in restaurants due to work, travel, and busy schedules, employing the above concepts will help you meet your weight loss goals, while still dining out regularly. If you’re looking to lay off the restaurant visits while still having delicious and fast meals at home or in the office, check out our high-protein and low-carbohydrate entrees here!