How to Make Smart Food Choices When You Eat Out

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For anyone wanting to eat healthy, a roadblock is often what they do when they eat out.

You sit down with friends or your spouse, you are thinking in your head, I’ll make a good choice. And then something happens.

You open the menu and see all the choices and see all the pictures and boom. You make a poor choice.

Same goes for dessert.

You know that a dessert at a restaurant could feed a small family in terms of calorie count, but when you see the dessert menu or tray, you are done for.

What do you do? Stop going out to eat? Stop traveling for business or vacation?

In my journey of losing 130 pounds and keeping it off, I’ve learned a couple of things about how to eat out while on business, a date night, lunch meeting or vacation and stay healthy.

  1. Eat some protein a couple hours before eating out. Not eating enough protein is one of the reasons you get hungry in the middle of the morning or afternoon. When you eat out, this leads you to ordering an appetizer and then a meal that has way too many calories in it. Before eating out, grab a banana, a protein bar, greek yogurt, a smoothie. Something with protein in it so that you aren’t as hungry when you arrive at a restaurant.
  2. Know where you will eat. This is important if you are traveling or are on vacation or having a meeting. When I travel somewhere, I know the options near me that have healthier options. Don’t show up blind to a new city and just guess. That’s a way to make poor choices. I was recently in Orlando with another pastor and I had 3 options for breakfast and told him, “you can pick but it has to be one of these three.” Without this, you pull into the first place you see.
  3. Know what you will eat before you arrive. When you open a menu, if you don’t know what you want to eat, you will often order something very bad for you. Restaurants don’t put pictures of the healthiest meals in the menu. Also, things like salads are not always the best thing to order on a menu as they may have low amounts of protein (which will make you hungrier in a couple of hours) and high in sugar (so it tastes better). If you know what you want before you arrive at a restaurant, you are more likely to make a good choice.
  4. Order first. This came up in Tom Rath’s book Eat Move SleepHe said that the person who orders first at a table sets the standard for what others will order. This is often true. If someone orders a healthy option first, others follow suit.
  5. Box up half your meal when it arrives. A friend told me this one, but when your meal arrives, ask for a box. Put half your meal in the box and close it. Now eat.

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