Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekly Meeting Topic Week 18 (getting caught up): Can You Dine Out and Still Lose Weight?

This is the meeting topic from two weeks ago, when I started going back to my meetings.  I didn't post this sooner due to being sick, then spending all week getting caught up from being sick!

The quick answer to the above question is ... YES.  I lost all of my 63ish lbs going out for dinner once a week on average.  I go out for dinner almost every Friday evening with my bestie Christin.  Over the years we have evolved from going out for groceries together (Christin doesn't have a car so we shop together and I drive her around) and a fast food hamburger, to going to the gym followed by grocery shopping and dinner out.  So every Friday we have managed to turn a mundane chore into a social event and a chance to get caught up.

In this day and age many of us don't eat all 21 meals in a week at home, I don't do you?  When you're first starting a weight loss plan I think one of the most terrifying things besides starting to exercise is that first trip to a restaurant.  You could turn the invite down, you can stay home, safe, eating your safe foods.  But honestly, is that real life?  No!  If you don't learn how to cope with social situations and food right away you never will be able to.  I am the first to admit that some events I'm successful in my plan of attack, and at other times I'm a complete failure.  In a social situation its easy to fall prey to unhealthy choices or fall into the habit of eating the same/similar foods as the people you're with.

So how can you be successful at weight loss while having meals out?
  • Come up with a plan to stay on track
  • Go armed with your dining out booklet from Weight Watchers
  • If you don't have one or WW isn't your weight loss method, become a restaurant detective!  Once you know where you're going for your meal out hop on the Internet try to find the restaurant's website, check out their online menu (if they have one) and in this day and age, more restaurants have their nutritional information available online.
  • With the above information go to the restaurant armed with the knowledge of what choices off of the menu are best choices for your weight loss goals... and something you'll enjoy and order that.  To not be tempted by any other choices, turn down a menu and be sure to order first, then you are not tempted to change your mind.
  • Look for key words when decoding the menu like grilled, steamed, roasted, baked... etc these are all healthy words.
  • Become a food snob, ask to have your dish prepared a particular way, ask for sauces on the side, replace high fat/calorie sides with extra vegetables, salad, baked potato, etc.
  • Be a restaurant snob too, be the one to suggest the restaurant or if someone makes a suggestion that you know would tempt you too much, or you know you can't eat there healthily, ask if you can go to a different restaurant
  • Ask for a take-out box when your meal comes and package 1/2 of it away for leftovers the next day
  • Have an appetizer as a meal
  • Avoid alcohol, it will weaken your resolve or at least make sure you've ordered your meal BEFORE you have that drink.
  • Water is your friend, ask for a glass of water to go with your drink at dinner
  • Have a light low calorie/zero point snack before leaving the house, never go to the restaurant hungry!
  • Ask the server not to bring the bread basket/chips/etc.
  • Put your fork down while you're chewing and take some time to talk to your friends/family during the meal
  • Order a kids/seniors meal
  • Share dessert
  • Have a coffee/tea to sip on after dinner then you don't feel left out over decadent desserts
Yes, eating out can be scary but there are so many tactics above that if you stick to your plan you can enjoy your dinner out!


Lisa said...

I agree, I lost all my weight by eating out or having a takeaway or less healthy meal one evening most weeks. I knew this would be the only way I could sustain my weight loss efforts and it worked. Didn't feel such deprivation during the week knowing I had it to look forward to.

Karen said...

Great tips Dani! Eating out is something I struggle with so much that I rarely eat out anymore.