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Some people advocate an all or nothing approach to diet and nutrition.  That’s not right for me.  You see, I believe that the stricter you are with your nutrition regimen, the more likely you are to set yourself up for big fat failure.

Since healthful eating is a lifestyle choice, failure is not an option for me.  I choose to do all things in moderation.  I hope you will too!  Go out.  Enjoy life. Enjoy friends and family.  Eat someone else’s cooking every now and again.

Try these ideas the next time you decide to dine out.

  1. Snack before you go.  Don’t starve yourself the whole day so that you can enjoy a great meal out at dinner.  Starvation is a trap.  It sets you up to order the wrong thing because you’re famished.  Eat a normal breakfast and lunch.  Then eat a light snack before you go out to dinner. Something like a small piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, a few baby carrots, sliced cucumber, grape tomatoes, or a glass of milk.
  2. Check it out.  Most restaurants these days offer their menu options on-line.  Go ahead, pull up their website and review the menu before you go.  Information is power and you walk in pre-armed with knowledge on your best choices.  Life is more than a salad!  So, don’t limit yourself to a salad every time you eat out.  Where is the joy and fun in that?
  3. Resist temptation.  I am not a bread eater.  But if you were to go with me to a Mexican restaurant, I will eat every single bit of chips with salsa or queso the waiter puts in front of me.  Know your triggers.  If the bread always grabs you, say no and ask the waiter not to bring it.  However, bread dipped into olive oil is healthy but if you know it will make you overindulge, ask the waiter to bring a half serving of bread or only a few pieces…just enough to allow you to satisfy your taste.
  4. Substitute it.  Ordering a protein such as chicken, fish, beef, or pork is always a healthy option.  Try to stick with the roasted or grilled options. Forego the mashed potatoes or the baked potato with sour cream and butter.  Instead, substitute it with choices such as a cup of soup, a side salad, an extra serving of fresh vegetables, or a sweet potato.
  5. Set it aside.  If the portion served is going to be too much, set it aside at the beginning of your meal.  Just because the restaurant serves it all at once doesn’t mean you need to eat it all at once.  Box it up and take it home to enjoy for lunch or dinner the next day.
  6. Eat slowly.  Savor your meal.  Enjoy your conversation.  Slowing your pace of eating allows your brain to register that it is full and allows satiety to kick-in.
  7. Keep it light.  Desserts can be a tempting sweet treat after a nice meal out.  Fresh fruit (e.g., fresh berries) is always a great option.  Now, if you’re dining at the Cheesecake Factory, that’s a slightly different story (adjust your meal appropriately so you can have that slice).  Wherever you are dining, if you can’t resist that piece of dessert, take a few bites at the restaurant and then box up the rest to take home to enjoy another day!

If you slip up every now and again, it’s ok.  Choose wisely.  It’s all about moderation.

I would love to hear any of your tips for healthful dining when eating out.