Eating out often can be a recipe for weight gain if you’re not careful. Creator of the South Beach Diet, Dr. Arthur Agatston, feels that the more meals you eat outside your own home, the more likely you are to put on pounds and possibly 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 likely to consume more calories and 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 or friends just for fun or to celebrate something special, and so you should. Here are some easy ways to stay healthy when dining out on the South Beach Diet:
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 often 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
server 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? Once you’ve found out, 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 then quickly fall,
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 into instead of slathering on butter, which is high in saturated fat.
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. On Phase 2, see if they
have sweet potatoes or brown rice. Filling up on high-fiber vegetables curbs
your hunger by delaying the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream.
with lean protein.
Not only does eating lean protein help 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, chicken,
and duck breast, pork loin and tenderloin, 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 or iced coffee. 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
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