Eating at a restaurant does not have to sabotage your healthy diet. With some preparation, deliberate ordering and slow eating, you can feel good about going out to eat every once in a while!

Preparation

Like anything in life, the better you prepare to eat out, the more successful you will be. What does this mean, practically speaking? If you know you are going to dinner after work, eat smaller, lighter meals during the day. Do not starve yourself because then you will be tempted to overeat at the restaurant. You can also prepare by checking out the menu online. Most restaurant’s list their menu items on their website, giving you the opportunity to plan ahead!

Ordering

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests you be deliberate when ordering. Balance your meal by including healthier selections from all the different food groups such as lean protein foods, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Because restaurants typically serve portions two to three sizes larger than necessary, ask for half of your meal to go from the start. That way you won’t even be tempted to overeat and you will have leftovers to take home. Win-win! Another tip when ordering is to replace the side dishes (fries, chips) with a side salad or a vegetable.

Eating

Eat slowly! You are there with company, so put your fork down between bites and make conversation. Not only will this make the time more enjoyable, it will make you fuller, faster. Fast eaters are typically overeaters, while people who enjoy their food slowly tend to feel satisfied with less.

Just because you want to eat healthily does not mean you cannot enjoy restaurants any longer! Simply do some preparation and research ahead of time, and then be deliberate about your ordering and eat slowly.