It’s one thing to stick with your diet regimen when you’re at home, in control of the contents of your refrigerator and your portion sizes. But what about going out to dinner with friends? Worse, how do you stay on track when your dream vacation has you seated by the dessert cart at every meal? Eating right when you’re out of your comfort zone can actually be easier than when you are at home, so long as you think smart and plan ahead.
Getting in shape can be an arduous journey, and you should allow yourself to celebrate along the way! However, celebrating doesn’t mean two helpings of dessert. Instead, focus on these simple tips to help you enjoy your dinners out on the town without compromising your weight loss goals.
Incorporate meals out like any others. Don’t skip meals beforehand, setting yourself up to be starving, then overeat. Plan, don’t be afraid to call ahead and find out what the specials are going to be and figure out a couple of choices, so that you don’t stress out when you arrive and order foods that are not the best options for your diet.
If the restaurant or event is going to serve you buffet-style, again, call ahead to plan. If that’s not an option, here are a couple ideas. First, ask someone with whom you’re comfortable sharing your dietary concerns to help you. Tell him or her what foods you can eat (or what you cannot eat) and ask the person to fill a plate for you. Or second, walk up to the buffet table(s) beforehand with no plate. Just take a casual stroll around and see which foods are being served. Then decide if you would like to ask someone else to place your selections on a plate for you or if you would prefer to get them yourself.
First of all, use manners and eat slowly. Not only will this help with your digestion, it slows your eating down so that you don’t “gulp” and be a chow-hound, eating everything in sight. If out with others, remember you are also there for socializing, so talk between bites. Set your eating utensils down while you chew. Have a sip of water between bites. The goal is not to see how fast can you wolf down the food while someone else is talking.
Food has become our society’s way of bringing people together, bonding friends, and building relationships. Unfortunately, for those of us looking to cut back on what and how much we eat, this can make previously enjoyable dinner dates to be dreaded and avoided tasks.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Remember why you’ve been invited out in the first place: to enjoy the company of others. You do not need certain amounts of food or certain types of food to accomplish this. Still go out, but help choose a place with foods you can eat. For example, opt for a restaurant with salads and low-fat menu choices instead of a place with all deep-fried batter-dipped menu choices and heavy desserts. The worst thing you can do for your self-confidence is to shut yourself off from your circle of family and friends, or to stay shut in the house all the time. After all, when you do meet your weight loss goal, you still want friends around to enjoy it with!
If you’re nervous about your willpower, go through a couple of trial runs with other friends who are watching what they eat. In this case, peer pressure can be a positive thing, as you all encourage one another to make healthy meal decisions.
Avoid the urge to compete with one another to see who can drink the most water and eat only shredded lettuce leaves. Instead, choose an old favorite and split it with a partner. This way, you won’t feel deprived and your portion size will automatically be limited. Not only will your waistlines be smaller, but so will your bills!
Chances you, whatever restaurant you will be frequenting has heard every request in the book—twice. If you’re concerned you won’t be able to find something on the menu that meets your needs, call ahead and explain what you’re looking for. Even if it’s not on the menu, they may be able to whip something up especially for you if you’ve called in advance.
Phoning early can also provide nutrition information for certain meals, if you need this information. And be flexible and open to new ideas. The cook may have his or her own special recipes and ideas.
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Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. For great diet products go to www.zefarilhealth.com
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