If you’re trying to lose weight, ordering at a restaurant can be a daunting task. Let’s be real, there are going to be instances where you MUST eat out. Or maybe you’re the type that eats out for every meal- and that’s okay too! You can lose weight while eating out as long as you keep a few of these tips for ordering in mind.
There are a few tips you’ve probably heard of before: look ahead at the menu if possible and look at nutrition information if it is available. These aren’t always options, though. If the restaurant you’re going to is a small local place, they aren’t required to make nutrition information available. They may also have a menu that changes frequently to use fresh local produce, for example. Whatever the case may be, it’s always great to check for these things from the start! If peaking at the menu or nutrition facts is not possible, don’t sweat it. Use these tips for ordering and you can feel a little bit more confident about your weight loss efforts.
Tip #1: Look for your protein first
I like to start by scanning the menu for lean protein options. Grilled fish, chicken, turkey, shrimp, sirloin, tofu, or a center-cut pork chop are some great options. Keep in mind the portion might be really large. If you’re wanting the sirloin and it’s 10 oz, it might be best to cut it in half and save the rest for later. A portion of protein is usually 4 oz, which is about the size of the palm of your hand.
Tip #2: Pick at least 1 non-starchy vegetable
Non-starchy vegetables are basically any vegetable that is not beans, corn, potatoes, peas, and yams. Almost any restaurant will have the typical side salad, steamed broccoli, green beans, maybe a grilled veggie skewer. Non-starchy vegetables are a low-calorie way to stay full because they are full of fiber and water and you can eat a large portion of them because they are so low-calorie. Not to mention the good-for-you vitamins and minerals they contain. Here’s the caveat, though: sometimes restaurants will load up veggies with fat such as oils, butter, and mayo. Beware of creamed spinach, mayonnaise-based coleslaw, broccoli salad, green bean casserole, squash casserole, etc. I live in the south where these dishes are common 🙂
Tip #3: Limit yourself to 1 starch
In case you were wondering, yes, it’s totally okay to have starchy carbs for weight loss! The biggest tip here is to make sure you’re not overdoing it on the portion and to try to limit to 1. It can be so easy to get carried away with carbs at a restaurant with sandwich buns, bread or chips on the table, plus a starchy side. Pick a sandwich OR a starchy side. Pick a piece of bread OR starch with your entree. Pick between a tortilla OR the beans. This really helps your food give you energy instead of making you feel sleepy!
Tip #4: Begin with the end in mind
Keep in mind your goals when you’re eating out. Keep in mind how you want to feel after this meal. Remember that if you’re still hungry you can always have more food, but if you overdo it you may feel tired, bloated, and uncomfortable. This is where intuitive eating comes in. It’s important to enjoy your food and have what you want, but balance helps your lifestyle line up with your goals!
You can lose weight while eating out. You can lose weight while eating your favorite foods! Losing weight and keeping it off is all about finding a good balance and lifestyle change over time that you can maintain!
Want more tips for losing weight and not giving up your lifestyle? Follow me on Instagram @busygalnutrition for meal ideas and videos of easy, fast recipes!