Dinner should be a great experience

Being invited out to dinner should be a great experience where you enjoy good food and good company. But how many of us, when trying to lose weight, view a restaurant invite as a fate worse than death?

You know the feeling; you start to play different scenarios through in your mind. The first is whether to go at all and risk ruining your healthy eating plan and the second is whether, if you do go out, to have a night ‘off’ your diet and eat what you like or the third is to feel isolated by skipping courses and worrying about food and not your friends. Well, fear not.

Whilst I don’t advocate eating out all the time if you’re serious about weight loss (the cooking methods, menu items and portions are out of your control) I do feel you should be able to enjoy a meal out from time to time without apprehension and without any guilt or worry about weight gain.

Few simple rules

You just need to apply a few simple rules and you can eat out and still lose weight.

1. Research Your Restaurant
To avoid having to make a food choice under pressure or being influenced by your other diners on the night, I advise you look up your restaurant online prior to arrival. Check out the menu and select the meal for you or consider an alternative restaurant if nothing is suitable.

2. Dressing on The Side
Whatever the salad dressing or meat sauce accompaniment may be, if you have it on the side you can reduce the amount added. Just have enough to moisten and add flavour. If the dressing provided is creamy and high in calories then don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for a simple alternative such as balsamic dressing, vinaigrette or salsa.

3. Go For a Grilldinner1
Select grilled meat dishes or grilled, poached or steamed fish dishes. Read the menu carefully to see how the dish is cooked. This is usually specified and can inform your decision. If all cooking methods seem inappropriate kindly request an alternative.

4. Add Bulk with Vegetables
A good tip is to ask for any pasta, rice or potato accompaniment to be replaced with extra vegetables. These will be sure to fill you up due to their high fibre content. Choose vegetables that are boiled or steamed with no added butter or oil.

5. Soup or Salad To Start
If having a starter, fill up with a broth based soup or a leafy salad. These are low in calories and will stop you over eating your main course and being tempted by dessert.

6. Avoid the Bread Basket
You wouldn’t stuff yourself with bread before a meal at home, so don’t be tempted when in a restaurant. If you are hungry whilst waiting for you main dish then order some olives to nibble on.

7. Skip on the Dessert
Avoid reading the dessert menu as your taste buds will kick into overdrive and cravings for your favourite indulgences will creep in. Instead opt for herbal tea. Lemon and ginger tea, with a spoonful of honey, is a very satisfying post meal satisfier. Alternatively, choose a skinny cappuccino or latte to finish on so you’re not playing with your dessert spoon as everyone else tucks into their chocolate brownie. If you skipped on a starter then look out for a fruit salad for dessert.

8. One Glass or Two
It’s considered sociable and relaxing for some people to enjoy a glass of wine or pint of beer when out to dinner, but remember all those extra calories in alcohol will slow your weight loss efforts if you overindulge. If you have a treat meal allocated then do sit back and enjoy a tipple, but for damage limitation, drink only one glass of wine or 2 half glasses mixed with soda, to spread your drinking over the evening, or choose a half pint of light beer or lager. Alternatively, volunteer to be the driver for the night to avoid temptation and to justify your abstinence to others if necessary! Personally I’d rather consume my calorie allowance with food anyway!

9. Drink Lots of Water
Water fills the stomach and prevents you overeating. It will also ensure you’re hydrated and flushing toxins from your body. Have a full glass before your meal and sip regularly throughout.