As we know, restaurants are notorious for giving us tons of food when we eat out, at least in America they are. I don't know about you, but I really love side dishes and having a variety of food to pick from when I go out to eat. We tend to consume a lot more food when we eat out, mostly because it is there and it's fun to nibble. Below are some sides and normal things a typical restaurant serves and some tips on what to do and some healthy ways to approach the norms of a restaurant.
1. The Bread Bowl - Gah, the infamous bread bowl. It's there, calling your name with a little plate of spreadable butter, just within reach. You can nibble and enjoy your conversation... WRONG! Hah, fooled you, bread and butter kills people when they eat out. Not literally, but most people eat the bowl of bread which has enough calories as their meal that they ordered. Nix the bread bowl or ask your server to not bring it so you aren't tempted. I know I'd eat the whole thing if it was there.
2. French Fries - Yummy fried potatoes. No nutritional value at all and is loaded with fat from the oil it was fried in. Who can resist french fries though!? A great way to have your fries, and eat them too, is to share them with your friends at the table. Nothing like sharing the calories with the people you enjoy spending time with. If you share your fries, you force yourself to eat less of them so you aren't so effected by the calories and fat. 5 french fries wont kill you, but a whole plate of them can!... again, not literal.
3. Soup & Salad - Everyone loves a nice hot soup with crisp salad. Buyer beware, they can be loaded with hidden calories and fat. Avoid cream based soups and stick to something with broth. Try to not put those saltine crackers into your soup, extra sodium and carbs make for bigger tummies. Salads, believe it or not, can be more caloric and fatty then your meal if you aren't mindful. Try to get salads with dark greens like spinach or arugula, iceberg lettuce is light green and doesn't carry nearly the same amount of nutrients that dark greens carry. Avoid the bacon and all the heavy toppings that are offered with a salad. The hardest thing, is the dressing! Order it on the side so you can regulate how much you are using. Fork your dressing into your salad instead of dumping the whole cup on top. You'll be surprised how much dressing you DON'T need to actually have it taste good. Less is more in this case. Again, try to avoid the creamy dressings like ranch, blue cheese, thousand island. Mind you, you CAN have these foods, I'm giving you healthy alternatives. You can have blue cheese, it's actually my favorite dressing. Just need to make sure you don't put too much or you'll be consuming more calories and fat then you want to.
4. Beverages - Biggest. Crock. Of. Shittle... beverages are empty calories. Soda and juice can really kill your meal if you eat out. I dropped soda completely from my life. There are alternatives though for those who can't give up the bubbly taste! I like sprite, so I make my own... how?... well that's easy. Order a club soda or seltzer and ask for a lot of lemon and lime. Squeeze your lemon and lime into your seltzer and then add a packet of real sugar. Yes, I said REAL SUGAR. The artificial stuff is processed, fake chemicals that is unnatural to your body and in fact, your body doesn't really know how to process splenda, sweet n low, or equal, so, you might as well have the real thing. And I know soda has sugar, so you might as well have soda right?... WRONG... Soda has aspartame and all these processed chemicals that are harmful to you. Stick to the natural seltzer, lemon/lime and sugar that I mentioned. You will thank me later, I assure you.
5. Salt Me! - You ever eat your meal and say, "Wow, I'm full, but this is too good to not eat the whole thing"? Something I do, and it may seem stupid but it works, when I get to that point in my meal that I know I am satiated and feel no need to keep eating except I want to because it tastes good. I open the salt at the table and dump a majority of it on my food. This forces me to not eat anymore. Waste of salt you say? I think not. When you get to that point in your meal when you know you are done, resist that impulse to keep shoveling and grab the salt and ruin your food. I use to trick myself into actually eating the rest of what was on my plate. Thoughts like "well, it's almost gone so might at well finish it." or "it's only one day"... phrases like this are terrible. They are simply rationalizations and manipulations of your own mind tricking you to getting that full, stomach-to-the-back-wall feeling. Feeling like your belly button is going to invert itself it NOT a healthy feeling. Your stomach is begging you to eat less, and it tells you that. So force yourself to salt your food when you KNOW you're finished.
6. The Doggie Bag - Order your doggie bag when you order your food. Once your meal comes, put half of it into the doggie bag to take home. You eat less at the restaurant, and don't have to feel guilty about what you're eating. Bottom line!
7. Children's Menu - This is debatable in most restaurants. Some restaurants have age restrictions on children's menu items, but that doesn't stop me. Almost every restaurant serves 4-5 servings of food per plate. One plate of food is enough for 5 people most of the time! This is because restaurants want you to feel like you're getting a lot for your money, but it's hurting your health. Restaurants serve food on plates that are massive and therefore you eat more. If you order off the children's menu, you will be ordering a normal serving of food for an adult. I have argued with waiters and management when I order out about the age discrepancy on children's menu items. I simply tell them I am on a special diet and have to order off the kids menu; I have never been denied this... EVER. Think about it, the restaurant is there to serve YOU. They would much rather have you spend 6 bucks on a kids meal then have you walk out the door, so order from the kids menu when you can to help your portion sizes.
I have many more tricks and tips to eating out and will be divulging them to you soon! Eat well, and be happy, until next time.