One of the toughest parts about eating healthy is avoiding restaurants that serve unhealthy food.
If you travel a lot or have an active social life, it may be very difficult to avoid eating out. And while eating at a restaurant can sometimes require careful planning, there are ways to do it without falling prey to the problems of restaurant eating.
The most obvious restaurant trap is portion sizes. If you compared today's portion sizes to those from fifty years ago, you'd see that today restaurants serve almost twice as much on the plate. So if you're someone who usually cleans your plate, this is a set up for diet failure.
In order to avoid this trap, you'll need to be aware that you probably only need to eat about half of what you're served. Many people find success by asking for to-go containers as soon as their meal is served. They package up half of their meal and then eat the rest later.
You might also be with a friend who'd like to split a dish with you. In general, eating half of what you're served will help you to stay within the recommended calories for a single meal. Beyond portion size, though, there are other problems.
For example, restaurant dishes are known for containing much higher calories from fat than something you'd make at home. But you can look for ways to manage the calories by making good choices from the menu.
Some restaurants have a special menu for people looking to eat healthier and lose weight. If the restaurant you're in doesn't have a special menu, you can look for grilled proteins and steamed vegetables as an option.
Salads can also be a good choice but beware of high-calorie dressings that can make the salad higher in calories than something else.
The ambiance in a restaurant can also make it a challenge to stick to your diet. A quiet restaurant where you can have a conversation can help you slow down and help you stay on track.
But restaurants that are loud with servers who are pushing drinks and desserts on your table can make it more difficult. And the dessert menu is another big trap for people who are trying to diet. In general, you should skip dessert.
And while not every restaurant has this, the complimentary bread basket or bowl of chips that many restaurants offer can make it really difficult to limit your carbs. You may want to ask your server to take it away so that the temptation can be avoided.
Restaurant traps can make it hard to stick to your healthy food plan, but by making good choices you can enjoy eating out without suffering from weight gain.
You may also want to consider hosting dinner parties at home to allow you to enjoy the social part of eating with friends without getting into trouble at a restaurant.
Known for her successful approach towards chronic wellness issues, Jennifer Baer, Nurse Practitioner and her team at Horizons of Health combine an integrative, functional medicine approach.
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