So, you're dieting. Or, as I like to say, "Eating According to Your Goals."
But, lemme guess - your friends and family may not be 100% on board with you whipping out the food scale, asking for just a salad and dipping your fork into the dressing (that you had served on the side) before taking three bites and calling it quits.
Am I right???
Look - most of us are social creatures. You don't have to be a buzz kill going out to eat with your friends. Granted, you don't have to attend every single social outing on the planet, but you can rest assured that going out from time to time is perfectly acceptable - even when you are on a diet...err, I mean eating according to your goals.
Here are some useful tips to get you through those restaurant outings. Incorporate these simple tips and you will definitely set yourself up to succeed!
Tip #1: You choose the restaurant
Why not be the person that arranges the big night out or the seemingly "impromptu" lunch date? Most major chain restaurants have their nutrition online these days, so go ahead and research it before you suggest an outing. It's hard to be a buzz kill when you're the one suggesting the get together.
While I was recently on my 12 week cut, Mother's Day was right smack dab in the middle of it. Rather than wondering what my mom would want to do or what my brother and sister-in-law might plan, I texted everyone and suggested we meet at Rio Bravo Sunday, 12:30, Northpoint Mall area. Was-lah! I went online, planned my day around that meal, and everyone "oohed and awed" how I could eat all that and still lose weight.
Tip #2: Be first one to order
Regardless of the restaurant, do your best to be the first person to place your order. This way, you don't have to focus on what everyone else is doing and watch as your willpower scurries off and hides in the corner. Order first (with confidence, I might add), and be proud of your smart decision making. It may even set the tone for how others order as well.
Tip #3: Enter what you plan to eat in your mobile app BEFORE you arrive
If you are tracking your food, and you certainly should be if you have goals, this is absolutely critical! Seeing those seemingly good choices glaring back at you in your app is akin to wearing a WWJD bracelet in the midst of stealing a candy bar from the line in Targe (did you enjoy that dated reference?). Nothing like a good ol' guilt ridden entry on My Fitness Pal to get your decisions going in the right direction. That 1200 calorie appetizer has a funny way of suddenly losing its appeal when you see it BEFORE you eat it.
Tip #4: Whatever you order, remember KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Order your meats baked, broiled, or grilled. Order your veggies steamed. Watch out for sauces, stay away from the condiments, breads, chips, etc. and other free crap that makes its way to your table. If you didn't order it, probably best to stay away from it. Remember, waiters don't bring out items to try and fill you up before you order. What would be the point in that?? They bring out all the simple carbs! Foods that you can eat gobs and gobs of and still have plenty of room for the main course. In fact, the free foods they bring entice you into ordering more. Think about that.
Lemme guess - grilled chicken with a side of steamed veggies sounds boring, right? I mean, look at what so-and-so gets to eat! But, remember this - you can't have your cake and eat it too (just wanted to use a pun there). Seriously, though, remember that the whole POINT of getting together with friends is to....dare I say...get together with friends. Don't make it about the food - make it about the atmosphere, the music, the laughs, the company, the fact that the kids are home with the sitter, the fact you aren't doing the cooking...or the cleanup - these are the things you should focus on! This is about mindset. Don't focus on what you don't get to eat - focus on who you get to eat with.
Tip #5: Don't be afraid to ask questions
Again, if you are tracking, this is critical. There's nothing embarrassing about wanting to know how many ounces of chicken is served in the grilled chicken salad. This is a restaurant and they are keeping track of how much food is going out the door. They know how much chicken goes on a salad - so just ask. They also know how their foods are prepared. With all the food allergies these days, that's a no-brianer. So, just ask them. And, be ready to ask for substitutions if needed.
If you are trying to stay low carb, for example, and your steak comes with a potato, ask to substitute broccoli instead. If they have it, they will do it. Ask for real butter, none of that imitation crap. Or, ask that they use very little olive oil, or whatever. The point here is to just ask.
If you don't feel comfortable asking all of this in front of people, then call ahead.
Tip #6: Drink your water
Water makes you feel full so drink a glass before you walk out the door and another glass at the table. If you're like me and don't find water all that exciting, take along some Mio drops and use a quick squirt when your water arrives. Tons of flavor and makes drinking your "medicine" easy-peasy. Bonus: there are so many flavors of this stuff, you might even feel like a kid choosing a Kool-Aid flavor again.
Tip #7: Save your fruit for dessert or share your dessert with the table
Fruit is carbs (so log it), but fruit is healthy and packed with all sorts of awesome nutrients (so enjoy it). And, typically, restaurants don't willingly hand out huge portions of it. Save it for a guilt free dessert !
IF you must order a dessert, get input from your compadres, and order something you will share with everyone at the table. A few bites is typically rich and satisfying. You get to savor it - you're sharing the love - it's what I like to call a win-win.
There's absolutely no reason why you can't be successful at cutting calories, tracking your food, AND enjoying a meal out with friends. Live your life and do the best you can. It's really all about consistency, not perfection. You will continue to see results if you are staying aware, making smart decisions, and hitting your numbers more days than not.
If you are new to your diet, and these tips sound awful, and you don't trust yourself to refrain from eating and drinking all the things, then Just Say No. Sit a few outings...out. Don't go. It won't be forever. If you know you aren't strong enough, and the temptation is too great, then know it, realize it, and simply don't go until you get a handle on your diet. You will get stronger in your determination every day, and soon enough, you will find your place at the table.