When you are dieting, it can be very difficult to avoid temptation and not give in to those tempting treats!
If you are eating at home, it's a bit easier. That's because buying your own food helps you to know what you're eating. However, when you go out to eat, it's a completely different story. Most people would be shocked to know how much sodium restaurant food has, and would never add that much salt when cooking for themselves.
Here are some tips on how to stay on track when you go out to eat and still enjoy your meal.
1. Look to substitute
While substituting for a middle school teacher is hard, substituting healthy alternatives isn't.
If you really want to order a burger but don't want to break your diet, look for a substitution. WebMD suggests a turkey burger or a veggie burger as a healthier option (rather than a greasy hamburger complete with fried egg and bacon).
Still missing the taste of beef? Companies like Impossible and Beyond have spent millions of dollars using plant-based ingredients to replicate the taste of a real beef burger, and they've succeeded!
Then, skip the starchy potatoes on the side, and substitute something healthier like quinoa, grilled veggies or a side salad.
2. Eat mindfully
Most of us rush through our food because our mind is somewhere in the future. Stop thinking about your afternoon meeting, and for God's sake, put down your phone! The problem with not focusing on your food is that your brain doesn't realize how much your eating.
Plus, being mindful calms your nerves, and food tastes a lot better when you're paying attention!
3. Don't overeat (duh!)
Just because you are out to eat at a restaurant doesn't mean you need to finish all of your food. Restaurant portion sizes are too big, so if you do finish your meal, you're probably eating too much! For this reason, consider splitting an entree and a salad with a friend to avoid overeating.
Or, just ask for a box and bring it home — you can eat it for lunch tomorrow.
If you ever find yourself groaning and tired after a meal, you're eating too much!
4. Don't ever eat fast food (like, ever!)
Unless you live in an Orwellian world where war is peace and a diet encourages eating bacon, Fast food is just plain unhealthy. (Wait, there's a popular diet that does encourage eating bacon?!)
Pick a restaurant that has an assortment of healthy options to choose from so you won't be tempted to stray. Look at the menu before you get to the restaurant and make sure there are things on it that you can eat without feeling too guilty about it.
One tip is to have a small, healthy snack before you leave to make sure you are not ravenous when you arrive. You are more likely to make unhealthy choices if you are starving hungry!
Missy from Pretty Sweet says, "Ordering that Diet Coke with your cheeseburger doesn't mean that the meal is now magically healthy! Look at fast-food meals as a guilty pleasure or reward that you can work towards about once a month. Need more convincing? Try getting on a treadmill and see how long it takes to burn the 900 calories in that cheeseburger!
5. Spice it up!
Not every single thing on your plate needs to be completely healthy. If you are trying to eat vegetables but just don't like them, add a little something to them to spice them up. Try adding some spicy seasoning, hot sauce, or red pepper, and you'll be amazed at how different plain vegetables taste with just a little dash of spice added into the mix.
Spicy food can also help speed up your metabolism!
6. Eat less gluten (bread, pasta, etc)
Going gluten-free is one of the newest trends when trying to lose weight and get healthy. Most restaurants offer substitutions for bread, such as gluten-free rolls or gluten-free pasta. Take the opportunity to turn your meal into a gluten-free meal. It will help you maintain your healthy lifestyle and you won't feel bad about enjoying a night out with your family or friends.
Even if you aren't aiming to go totally gluten-free, consider skipping bread whenever possible. You might notice that as your gluten consumption decreases, your energy levels increase.
7. Exhibit self-control
This is the hardest thing to do when you are on a diet. It can be so hard to have self-control when you see delicious cakes in the display case at the front of the restaurant or see the person next to you eating a delicious-looking, but fattening, meal.
When you go out to eat, you need to be able to control your urges and stick to your plan. If you can do this, you can maintain a successful diet and bring yourself to the weight you would love to be at.
Also, know that drinking alcohol before or during meals can make you eat more!
A diet isn't just about counting calories or eating less. In fact, a major component of sustainable weight loss is true behavior change. If your "diet" doesn't address the root causes of your weight gain and ask you to create healthier habits, it will probably fail.
For that reason, skip the free apps and DIY diets and make sure that it's a holistic approach with social support. Good luck!