Your weight loss plan is going well, maybe you’ve lost a few pounds and you’re starting to think steamed vegetables really are as tasty as french fries, when out of the blue your sister calls and invites you out for dinner to that new place you’ve been dying to try. If you say no, you might miss all the gossip about your cousin Marge and her new boyfriend. If you say yes you’ll blow your diet. What do you do?
You go to dinner, of course! Just because you’re trying to eat better doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit who subsists on raw vegetables and rice cakes. In fact, if you try to lose weight with the hermit-who-eats-only-vegetables plan, you very likely will fail. That kind of plan is just not sustainable. Life goes on, even when you’re watching what you eat, and life includes restaurants.
What you need is a plan to deal with dinner out–a plan that both allows you to enjoy your meal and feel good about your choices. So listen up. It’s not that hard to do.
Step one: Know where you are going. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, and if you know where you are planning to eat then you can also plan what you will eat. A lot of restaurants have their menus and nutrition information on line, so do a little surfing before you head out for dinner and figure out a game plan.
Step two: Box up the leftovers ahead of time. Restaurants typically serve meals two to three times as large as any one person should be eating. Ask your server to bring you the take home box with the meal, and box up half your dinner before digging in. You’ll be less likely to overeat if you’ve already put away the leftovers, and lunch for dinner is in the bag-so to speak.
Step three: Share a dessert. If you just can’t resist that decadent hot fudge cake with ice cream, then order it with extra spoons and share with your friends. They probably don’t want all those calories, either, and will be more than happy to spread them around.
Bonus step: Skip the alcohol. Alcohol really packs in the calories and provides almost no nutritional value. Go for water with lemon, iced tea, or diet soda instead. If you really want a drink, stick with diet soda and whiskey or rum, or a reduced calorie beer. Definitely avoid those colorful frozen concoctions that come in a giant glass. Just one of those can easily exceed 600 calories. Yikes!
Just because you’re trying to lose a little weight doesn’t mean you have to be a stick in the mud who declines all invitations. With a little thought, you can enjoy dinners out and stay on track, too. Remember, dieting in real life is a skill you’ll need to have if you hope to lose weight and keep it off. Life goes on, and a successful weight loss plan will help you live it, not avoid it.
For more great weight loss tips, visit KISS and Get Fit.