Meal prepping is one of the best things you can do to help you achieve your weight loss goals. But what about when you’re not at home? Unfortunately, it is far too easy to go way over your limits with even just one dish at some dining establishments. Today I want to look at a few ways we can prep before going out to eat, so we don’t end the night feeling like one meal has completely derailed all our progress.
The key here, as is often repeated, is to plan ahead. Either plan to eat foods that fit into your allowance for the day, or if you can plan way ahead, you can eat less during the day/week leading up to it, so you can eat what you want without worry. So if you know your birthday dinner is this coming weekend, and you absolutely must have the tiramisu at your favorite Italian joint, keep the rest of your meals for the week on the lighter side to “make room” for that decadent dessert. If a dinner out is more of a spur of the moment decision, then plan to pick something off the menu that fits into your diet plan for the day. So, how can we make sure we’re sticking to our plan?
Pre-peruse the menu
These days, every chain restaurant has the nutrition information of their menus posted on their website. Before heading out, take a look at the online menu and decide ahead of time what you are going to order. Now, while this is an easy tip, it’s really hard to stick to. It’s easy to look at the menu and say “oh, I’ll order the grilled salmon!” but then once you get there and smell all those wonderful smells, it becomes very difficult to not order the smokehouse burger and cheese fries instead. This is where it helps to go back up to planning ahead. If you’re not going out for a few days, you have time to build in some wiggle room so you can order what you really want to eat, rather than having to settle for something yummy, but that doesn’t quite “hit the spot”. If you are going to a more “mom and pop” local joint, you can still look up a similar chain online to get a decent estimate of menu items.
Promise to go halfsies
Another option when going out to eat is to promise yourself ahead of time you’ll only eat half of your meal. Many restaurants these days give you huge portions that are more befitting of two meals than just one. You can ask for a box up front to box up half of the food right away so that it’s not even on your plate anymore. This lets you basically cut the calorie/macro count of the dish in half right off the bat. Just be sure to also plan ahead for what you will do with the leftovers. Alternatively, you can offer to split the dish with a dining partner so there aren’t any leftovers.
These are just a few tricks you can use next time you dine out so that you can eat what you really want, but still continue making progress toward your goals!
For more ideas on how to handle eating out with coworkers, check out my Ultimate Guide to Meal Prep.