Learning Center

Module 6 - Eating Out

More Choices

Nutrition CounselorJust as you need to make healthier choices when eating at home, so too do you need to be selective about where and what you eat when eating out in order to follow your meal plan towards a healthier, slimmer you.  When you first start your weight loss program, it’s best to use your individualized meal plan and eat at home.  As you get more accustomed to eating the proper balance of food groups and the proper portions, you will be better able to make those healthier choices when you eat out.  Because you are making a fundamental change to your eating habits, you will need to spend some time planning your first few meals out.  With time, your eating out strategies will become almost automatic, but for now, time spent in preparation will be well worth it.  Here are a few strategies to use.

Where & What To Eat

You want to avoid places that limit your healthy choices.  By and large, a smaller percentage of the menu items in fast food restaurants fall into the healthy category than the items in most sit-down restaurants.  Another thing, do some research and use your meal plans as examples of healthier kinds of foods rather than relying on the ads that these places use.  One of the fast food chains may advertize that they now have a healthier cheeseburger.  All that means is that it is better in some way compared to another of its products.  The new “healthier” cheeseburger may have 750 calories and the old cheeseburger may have 850 calories.  The new "healthier" cheeseburger is still an unwise choice.  Many of the fast food restaurants offer more healthier choices, such as salads, now than they did several years ago, so you do have options there.  Just make sure you have the will power to choose them!

Thanks to the Internet, you can review the menus of many restaurants without leaving home.  Some even list nutritional information including fats, carbs and calories for certain entrées.  Others designate the healthier choices with a symbol.  If you don’t have access to a computer, the next time you visit your favorite restaurant, ask for a take out menu and any nutritional information they have available.  With this kind of information you can often decide what you will order before you leave home.

To further refine your decision, you should set allotments for yourself for each of the food groups before you go & stick to them.  You can also use a tool such as the Nutritional Content Calculator on the This Insights For Health website to estimate the caloric impact of a meal you are planning to select.

Another general suggestion – AVOID ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFETS!  Buffets seem to bring out the worst in us as far as healthy eating.  Often the foods are fatty and fried, and we feel compelled to load up our plates – usually several times – to get the most for our money.  Consequently, we eat too much of the wrong things!  Unless you have exceptional will power – which few of us who are overweight seem to have – AVOID ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFETS!

Making Wise Choices AT The Restaurant

The previous suggestions assume that you have a choice in where you will be dining or at least know beforehand so you can do some planning.  What do you do if that’s not the case?  Here are some tips:

When choosing from a new menu, follow these suggestions:

  1. In most restaurants, the size of the servings far exceeds the recommended portion size.  To avoid the temptation, when you order ask the waiter to box half of your entrée before he serves you your meal so you can enjoy it at another meal.

  2. Look for a section of the menu that lists healthier choices.

  3. Avoid foods with high fat content.

  4. Similarly avoid heavy, creamy sauces.

  5. It is common to eat bread & butter while waiting for the meal.  You need to make sure you don’t exceed your allotment for that meal.

  6. Water is preferable to a carbonated beverage, even a diet beverage. Drink a full glass of it during the course of your meal.

  7. Choose low fat dairy products or those made from skim milk.

  8. Avoid breaded or fried foods, choose broiled or baked instead.

  9. Choose vegetables, but avoid the sauces that are often served with them such as Hollandaise.

  10. Choose fat-free or low fat salad dressings, on the side. 

  11. Go easy on adding cheese to your salad or entree.

  12. Choose fruit for dessert.  If i is not on the menu, enjoy your coffee, focus on the conversation and plan to enjoy a piece of fruit when you get home.

What do you do if the restaurant has few if any healthy options?  When there are few options, say, you’re holding your 10 year old’s birthday party at one of those pizza party restaurants and the temptation may be too great.  Well, if you are serious about losing weight, you should have a healthy snack or meal before the party so you can better resist the temptation during the party


What To Do After You Dine Out

As you know, a fundamental component of most weight loss programs is keeping an accurate Food Diary.  Scientific studies show that those who keep such a diary lose twice as much weight as those who do not!  When you return home you should enter your meal into your Food Diary and review how well you were able to keep on track with that meal.  If you stayed on track – Congratulations!  If you had eaten more than you should have, you may choose to adjust your intake for the rest of the day or do some additional exercise within the next day or two.  Don’t be discouraged!  Changing to a healthier lifestyle is not easy.  It’s a gradual process.  As long as you learn from your less healthy choices and apply those learnings going forward, you are making progress and will succeed in reaching your goals!  Remember you’re not alone. 

This concludes the final Learning Module in our series.  Access the Practice Tests through the link on the left. 







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