Eating out often can be a recipe for weight gain if you’re not careful. Dr. Arthur Agatston feels that the more meals you eat outside your own home, the more likely you are to become overweight and suffer from obesity-related ailments. When people dine out, they tend to eat on average 500 more calories per meal than they would if they ate a similar meal at home. When you’re not in control of how your meals are prepared, you’re not only likely to consume more calories but also more bad fats, bad carbs, and sodium. Of course, there will be many occasions when you’ll want to spend a night out with your family and friends just for fun or to celebrate something special. Here are some easy ways to enjoy a restaurant meal:
the restaurant carefully.
You’ll make the best food choices when you choose a restaurant that relies
primarily on healthy ingredients. That often means avoiding fast-food chains
and family/casual restaurants that mostly fill their menus with fried, overly
salted, and sugary offerings. Instead, pick a restaurant where you can discuss
how the food is prepared with your server and influence what ends up on your
menu as a resource.
Carefully read the descriptions of the dishes on the menu and then ask the
server questions about how the food is prepared. For example: Is the fish
fried, sautéed, baked, or broiled? Does the sauce contain butter or cream? How
are the vegetable side dishes prepared? And don’t be afraid to ask for a dish
to be cooked “your way.” The healthy way.
bread basket the boot.
If the bread is not in front of you, you’re less likely to grab a piece or three
out of habit. Furthermore, eating refined carbs, such as white bread or white
rolls, can cause your blood sugar to spike, making you hungrier. If the bread
basket is filled with a variety of rolls and breads, however — and
you’re not on Phase 1 — then choose a piece that’s whole wheat or
whole grain and ask for extra-virgin olive oil to dip it in instead of
slathering on butter.
on veggies. Skip the side of white potatoes or
white rice most restaurants offer and ask for an extra helping of steamed or
grilled vegetables to complement your dinner instead. Filling up on high-fiber
vegetables curbs your hunger by delaying the absorption of glucose into your
with lean protein.
Not only does eating lean protein allow you to maintain muscle mass during
weight loss, it also helps curb cravings and keeps you feeling fuller longer.
The best lean-beef choices are ground sirloin, beef tenderloin, top loin, top
round, and flank steak. Other lean-protein choices include skinless turkey and
chicken breast, pork loin, fish, and shellfish. You can also go meatless and
ask for a dish made with tofu, beans, and/or vegetables. Request that your
entrée be baked, grilled, broiled, or sautéed (with extra-virgin olive oil).
And ask for sauces on the side.
your beverages. For a
nonalcoholic beverage, enjoy water, club soda or seltzer with lemon or lime,
diet soda, or unsweetened iced tea. If you don’t drink alcohol, we’re not
encouraging you to start, but if you do and are on Phase 2 or Phase 3, you may
enjoy a drink or two occasionally. It’s best to hold off until your meal is
served; however, waiting to have a drink until the food arrives will help
stabilize swings in blood sugar and prevent cravings. You can have a glass of
red or white wine or extra-brut champagne, cava, or prosecco, or a light beer
with your meal. If you want a cocktail, opt for one made with a sugar-free
mixer like diet soda, club soda, or seltzer. It’s recommended that women limit
their intake to one alcoholic beverage a day, and men to one or two a
- Enjoy dessert, in moderation. You can enjoy dessert during all Phases of the South Beach Diet. If you’re on Phase 1, wait to get home to enjoy a ricotta crème or another Phase 1-friendly dessert. However, if you’re on Phase 2 or 3, you can enjoy fruit and a little cheese or a more decadent restaurant dessert now and then. If you do splurge, simply employ the South Beach Diet "Three-Bite Rule:" Order the dessert that is tantalizing you — along with enough forks for your tablemates. Then, savor a few bites and pass the plate to your fellow diners.