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Secret #8: How to Eat Out and Still Lose Weight

The next secret to weight loss involves knowledge of food and portion control to successfully order off a menu at a restaurant.

We often have only a foggy idea what it is we’re going to eat when we order out. The descriptions of food are enticing enough, often mentioning certain ingredients in colorful language. Still, they’re only references to the actual dish. The writers of these descriptions usually focus upon those elements that are most tempting to our imagination, and only hint at the actual process that goes on in the kitchen.

A closer look at the terms used in these descriptions may reveal how the preparation of certain foods may be less than appropriate for our weight loss goals. The secret to knowing how to order food involves being more knowledgeable about cooking and it’s terminology.

Just a Bunch of Hot Oil

The dishes you should most avoid are those that have been prepared in saturated and trans fats, especially if they used for frying. Any oil that is heated and used to fry foods is not ideal. Heating starchy foods in high-temperature oils increases the formation of a substance called acrylamide, shown to increase the risk of both heart disease and cancer, not to mention the unwanted pounds. And it doesn’t always have to say “fried” to be fried. Chances are if it’s crispy or breaded, it’s been bathing in some sort of hot fat.

Saturated and trans fats can also be mixed in with foods. Take a classic side of mashed potatoes. Potatoes labelled “creamy” get that way due to the huge amount of butter and/or heavy cream added to the mix.

Words seen on a menu that should raise a red flag include:
  • “Batter-fried”
  • “Pan Fried”
  • “Buttered”
  • “Crispy”
  • “Breaded”
  • “Crusted”
  • “Creamy” or “Creamed”

Healthier preparation tends to use little or no fat. Look for these terms when deciding what to order:
  • “Baked”
  • “Braised”
  • “Broiled”
  • “Poached”
  • “Roasted”
  • “Steamed”
  • “Grilled”

Eating Out Strategies for Weight Loss Recommendations

1. Do your homework.
Before making a decision to eat at a restaurant, do a little research. Go online and review the restaurant’s menu before you make the drive. Quickly make a list of items that seem both appealing to you and that are offered in appropriate portion sizes. Have at least your top three choices in mind before going out. A little bit of forethought will make the world of difference.

2. Beware of the buffet.
If you tend to eat too much, try and avoid the self-serve, all-you-can-eat style restaurants. If that’s your only option, order from the regular menu and stick to the salad bar for your starchy carbs (where you can eat unlimited vegetables. Avoid all heavy high-fat dressings and buttery croutons which may have hidden calories.

3. Opt for slow or low carb earlier earlier that day.
When you eat out, you’ll most likely be eating a higher amount of carbs and calories than is part of your planned diet regimen. To compensate for this, decrease your carb intake for lunch the day you eat out, and for breakfast the next day. (And don’t let your dining get in the way of your exercise routine.

4. Make a special request for substitutions.
Once at the restaurant, keep your plate portion percentage in mind and build your meal with this ratio. (There’s no shame in asking. Remember, it’s your dollar, and for that matter, your body).

5. Sharing is caring.
Split your meal with your dining partner and order an additional side of veggies. The simple act of eating with another person may even make you more conscious of what you are eating and support your own decisions to choose a healthier option for each of you.

6. Pass on another round of drinks.
Many beverages (especially alcoholic ones) have hidden sugars and an excessive amount of calories. Mixed cocktails are especially high in sugar and calories – when you consider flavored mixes and sodas, syrups, fruit juices, sugary garnishes and the base spirit itself, you may be inadvertently adding anywhere between 100 to 300 calories to your meal. Add a round or two more and you can see how calories quickly add up.

7. Split the sweets.
If you want dessert, get one and share it with others at the table. Remember stick to your plan – pick healthy options for sweets that won’t have a negative emotional and/or physical impact later.

8. Bring it home.
Here’s another opportunity to take a moment in the middle of the meal and gauge how you’re feeling. Are you full? If so, ask for a take-home container and bring the rest if your meal home to eat later or the next day.

More Secrets for Successful Weight Loss

Secret #1: Knowing your food (Carbohydrates, proteins and fats)

Secret #2: Understanding the emotional triggers that lead us to eat the way we do

Secret #3: Recognizing your eating behaviors and habits

Secret #4: The impact of sleep and weight loss

Secret #5: The effect of energy levels and stress on weight loss

Secret #6: Appreciating how digestion impacts weight loss

Secret #7: Making healthy portion size decisions

Secret #8: How to eat out and still lose weight

Secret #9: Learn how to work out anytime and anywhere