Restaurant tips and tricks have been subjects that I have wanted to blog about for a while now.
When I started this blogging journey I wanted to have more than one subject to “talk” about. I adore my family and I love to cook but my life is bigger than just those things. We like getting out of the house and going out to eat is one of those “things” we do.
I have recently lost 55 lbs by learning how to eat right. I knew in theory what was good vs bad foods, but had no clue how to do things like read a food label or a restaurant menu and what to “watch for”. The Ultimate Portion Fix/21 Day Fix has taught me portion control but more importantly, it has taught me what good, clean, healthy food looks like.
Mastering “how much, of what ” to eat led to several successful rounds of weight loss and while shopping for clean food and eating at home was getting easier. But I knew I was going to have to try to go out to eat at a restaurant eventually.
So I went about picking where to go…
One of the 1st things I learned was that I was going to have to do, was my HOMEWORK ahead of time! If the place specializes in fried foods and ribs it might not be the best place in the world to try to keep from blowing a diet. Steak houses, seafood places, healthy food chain restaurants usually have the best choices for me.
So if at all possible I try to find an online menu of a place I want to try. Then to try to narrow down my choices before I ever get there.
I look at the ingredients next and try to find the freshest ones I can …and yes at some places that usually means that a salad is your ONLY option. But more and more places are starting to understand that “we” are ready to take more charge of our health as a society and they have tried to step up their menu game. Most restaurants post their calorie counts on the menu now.
What numbers are you going to be looking at?
The trouble with making things look better calorie-wise is that the sodium content can change and it can be astronomical sometimes! That information can be found on most menus in the Nutritional Information sections. Go there and make your decision based on calories/fat/sugar/sodium…..THOSE are what makes restaurant food taste better than ours does at home!!
Do you know that a steakhouse will slather your “healthy” steak with pure butter while it is hot, so before you ever get it they turned it unhealthy, and then if you dump steak sauce all over it you may as well be eating at the fast-food place down the street!!
You can change some of those calorie and fat numbers by asking for an alternate method of cooking. Like asking for something to be grilled instead of fried. Or ask for your salad dressing “on the side” and then not using all of it. But remember sodium is in everything coming to that table …..even cheese has sodium in it naturally and that number is the one that can be as high as a day worth in 1 meal!
But that is only going to change so much…
The #1 thing to remember– Portions. By the time you have reached the point of going out to eat, you should know how many green containers of a salad or steamed veggies should look like. So you have to eyeball the amounts on your plate and try to figure out how “much” you are going to eat.
Let’s talk calories because we live in a calorie “bracket” on the Ultimate Portion Fix/21 Day Fix and that is the number that you know the best. You need to look at your calorie bracket number and determine just how far out of that you want to travel in one meal. You sure don’t need to order something that has as many calories as your bracket has in it. There some HUGE numbers out there!
While you are thinking about the calories in that one meal, be thinking about how you plan on eating the rest of the day…..if you are going out to supper then make sure breakfast and lunch are ON POINT!
What is the biggest problem with restaurant food?
Now on to the biggest problem of all…..the SODIUM!! The Ultimate Portion Fix/21 Day Fix is a “lower” sodium-based diet. The FDA says the “normal” sodium diet should have no more than 2400mg of sodium per day and a “low” sodium diet should have no more than 1400mg per day. I aim for somewhere in the middle of 1800 -2000. That normally translates to about 10 servings of food at 180-200mg per servings per day. NOW, look at the number of sodium mg on an average restaurant menu and be SHOCKED!! I would have never believed you could get over 3,000mg of sodium in 1 meal until I saw it with my own eyes ( That would make you swell up like Harry Potter’s aunt!!) Here is a post I did about sodium numbers.
What are some other restaurant tips and tricks to help you make great decisions?
Don’t go out to eat if you haven’t eaten all day because if you are starving when you get to the restaurant you will order one of everything on the menu…LOL.
Eat an apple or another piece of fruit about an hour before you leave. If that is impossible then order a side salad with oil and vinegar dressing or clear soup to stave off the hunger.
If at all possible order before anyone else in your party. This takes the pressure off of you trying to change your mind about your healthy choice.
What restaurant tips and tricks can you use when you get there?
DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES! That is a simple statement. Save those calories for real food! If I do have a cocktail I order it AFTER my meal instead of dessert. That way I have something to signal the end of my eating for the evening.
Split your entree when it arrives at your table. Just ask your waiter to go ahead and bring you a to-go container right then.
Also, watch the menu for 1/2 size entrees or even an appetizer as your entree just because of the small size of it. If you do order an appetizer as an entree, make sure to tell your waiter that you want it served as an entree. Or you will get yours first and your Hubby will get his 10-15 minutes later. Don’t ask me how I know!
Slow down your eating. Enjoy the company you are with along with the food. If it is an actual treat meal for you then slow down and enjoy it.
Restaurant tips and tricks for that Yellow container
I often save ALL of my yellow/treat swap containers for a restaurant meal.
Look for whole-grain pasta or brown rice side dishes.
Watch for foods with healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados.
And add in some nuts and seeds your salads for good measure.
Remember to eat all of your container colors you saved for this meal. Go heavy on those green container veggies and purple container fruits!
Avoid the breadbasket. Even better ask for it not to be put on the table until your meal arrives.
The same thing goes for the chips in a Mexican restaurant, just let them come when your meal comes. You will have less of a chance to overeat them.
I just avoid dessert unless it is MY birthday. But just an average night out for dinner doesn’t require that many more calories added to it.
I try to remember that I almost always gain a couple of pounds after eating out. If I followed all the tips I know it can’t be “fat” I have gained. It is more than likely water weight. I will drink plenty of water. And I will be tight with my diet for the next couple of days.
I hope some of these restaurant tips and tricks help you make the 21 Day Fix a real lifestyle. It takes planning just like any of your meals take planning but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be fun!
Here are some fast-food options too!