by: Sarah Buron

There is nothing better than enjoying a delicious meal at one of your favorite restaurants. At the same time, cooking at home makes it much easier to control exactly what is going on your plate. At restaurants, it can be tough but it is not impossible. The biggest thing to remember when looking at food? It is meant to be fuel for your body to run optimally. And yes, it is also meant to be enjoyed! Here are some tips for eating out while watching your waistline:

Check out the menu online beforehand. Once you get to the restaurant, it becomes easier to be influenced by others’ choices. It’s your body; how do you want to choose to nourish it? The power is in your hands.

Water, water, water. So often, we think we are hungry but are actually just thirsty. Water is your friend so hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Start with a salad. If you are lucky enough to be someone who actually enjoys salad, start your meal with one! Order the dressing on the side so you can control how much you choose to use. A broth-based soup is also a good starter.

Sharing is caring. Eyeing up a decadent or indulgent choice on the menu? Share with others! That way,
you can get a bite or two but not crash and burn by consuming all of it.

Veggies for the win. More and more places are starting to incorporate vegetable options into their menus. Roasted veggies are a great side to compliment a protein and carb while helping fill you up with better nutrition as well.

Skip the burger bun. If you really want to enjoy a burger and fries, skip the bun while still enjoying the fries. For an extra bit of protein, ask for an egg on top of your burger. Eating your burger with a fork will also help you to eat slower.

Mindset is everything. Change your mindset from “I have to order XYZ” to “I want to order XYZ.” Rather than focusing on how you feel in the moment, focus instead on how you want to feel after the meal and make sure your choice reflects that. 

No salt shaker. Most restaurants have one, but most restaurants also have meals that are extremely high in sodium. Skip that extra salt!

Ask for a to-go box first thing. The first couple of times doing this, it might feel a little weird asking for a to-go box as soon as your plate arrives on the table. But if the food is in front of us, we are more likely to eat it all. Focus on spending quality time with the people around you. Box up half of your meal if the portions are plentiful and it will be out of sight, out of mind. You will be so happy you avoided a stomachache from overeating and that you got more bang for your buck. Plus, you now get to enjoy the delicious meal twice instead of just once!

Slow down. Your stomach doesn’t have teeth, which is why it is so important to chew, chew, chew your food while it is in your mouth. Put your fork down between mouthfuls and savor every bite, which will help aid in digestion. By slowing down, your body will also have a chance to catch up and alert you when you are full.

Enjoy yourself and have fun. After all, isn’t that the point? Life is meant to be enjoyed and these tips will help you to do so to the fullest while being mindful at the same time.