Q: My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, but I love to eat out. What tips would you recommend to make diet-friendly choices?
You are not alone in making weight loss resolutions for the New Year! In fact, it’s estimated that almost 40% of all resolutions are related to losing weight, and it’s no secret that restaurants can have a big impact on achieving those goals. It can be so exciting and motivating to record on paper your resolutions and envision a more energized, leaner you come swimsuit season, right? The trick is translating that big and exciting resolution into a long-term lifestyle change that doesn’t leave you feeling deprived.
If your New Year’s resolutions include weight loss and nutrition-related goals, you don’t have to give up eating out at restaurants to achieve them. With a few expert tips like these and smart choices along the way, you can enjoy dining out and still accomplish your New Year’s resolutions:
- Do your research. More and more restaurants offer nutrition information in kiosks, on tablets and on websites to help you make the best choices for you. Even options that appear to be healthy can be loaded with calories, saturated fat, sugar or sodium.
- Be aware of portion sizes. Even the healthiest meal can contribute to weight gain if portion sizes are too big. Opt for one of the more common smaller sized entrées, share larger entrées with friends, box up half your meal for later or get creative by mixing and matching smaller appetizers and sides.
- Aim to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, which are generally lower in calories and higher in fiber and nutrients. Choose vegetables as side dishes when given the choice. Request them steamed without the addition of butter, oil or cream sauce to help manage added calories and fat.
- Be sure to pair those fruits and veggies with lean protein and whole grains to round out your meal and satisfy hunger.
- Watch for hidden calories in beverages. One of the easiest ways to ditch extra calories when dining out is to stick with water or unsweetened tea.
- Treat yourself well. It’s common to fall into the “treating ourselves” mentality when eating out at restaurants and opt for the decadent choices. Instead, change your focus to treating yourself well with quality foods that are full of flavor and can help boost your energy and support your health goals… with room in your diet for the occasional decadence.