One of the biggest challenges I am facing on my weight loss journey is eating out when I am away from home. My family travels out of town at least once a week. That makes it very difficult to stay on my weight loss program like I should. However, I decided that I wasn’t going to let being away from home sabotage my program.
One way to make decision making easier is to eat at places that offer nutrition information on the Internet. Most restaurant chains offer the nutrition information online. Some dietitians recommend looking at the nutrition information and writing down the single best choice so you can order it when you get to the restaurant. I have realized that doing it that way doesn’t work for me. Instead, I write out three or four possibilities based on the nutrition information. By doing that, I can choose which I want to eat while I am at the restaurant instead of trying to predict what I will want while I am at home.
If none of the offerings at the restaurant we are going to are in line with my diet, I bring a snack to eat before we get to the restaurant so that I can order something really small like a side salad at the restaurant. A low-fat peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread and string cheese is a typical snack for me before eating at such a restaurant.
Alter the Meal
Some dishes contain heavy sauces, such as cheese sauce on an enchilada at a Mexican restaurant. If I want the enchilada, I ask for them to place the sauce in a bowl on the side so that I can add it to the enchilada. You can do this for sour cream, salad dressings, condiments on burgers and sandwiches and any other items that have a sauce. If you are worried that the restaurant won’t have suitable condiments for your diet, bring your own condiments. Because I love Cajun seasoning (I was born and raised in Louisiana), I bring Tony Chachere seasoning with me.
The same principle works for side dishes. Most restaurants will let me choose my own side dishes, and some will let me exchange side dishes that come with the meal. A salad is usually a good choice as long as I tell them to put the dressing, cheese, croutons and any other high fat or high calorie ingredients on the side. Vegetables are usually a good choice as long as they aren’t cooked in butter (I just ask my server if I’m not sure). A fruit plate is another good option.
Downsize the Dishes
If there is an appetizer that I can eat for a main course, I order it, or I find out if I can order from the kid’s menu. If neither of these is possible, I ask for a to-go box when I order my food. As soon as the food is placed on the table, I place at least half in the box to eat later.
Beware of Hidden Calories
When I choose your beverage, I always choose unsweetened ice tea, hot tea, water or black coffee. These beverages are calorie free and won’t sabotage my diet. I also skip the bread basket and any chips or other complimentary offerings prior to my meal.
Even if going out to eat is a spur-of-the-moment decision, it is still possible to stay on plan and keep a weight loss goal in sight.