How Important it is to Practice Portion Control at Restaurants

News flash: Life happens. And you can’t always be at home to make amazing, healthy, delicious meals in your own kitchen. Sometimes you go out to dinner with friends. Sometimes you need to have lunch with a client. Or sometimes you’re just out running errands and can’t make it home.

That doesn’t mean that your portion-control plan has to go out the window!

If you know what kind of meal you’ll be presented with when you’re away from home, you can use these tips to help make it a healthier experience:

Skip the cheese and bun, wrap in lettuce, substitute mustard in place of any sauces and load it up with veggies.

Skip the tortilla and make it a bowl or salad, go for lots of veggies, opt for brown rice and black beans, forgo the dairy (i.e., sour cream and cheese), portion out a sensible serving for yourself now and save the rest for later.

Start with a small slice of veggie pizza, order a small salad and add lean protein (like shrimp) if you want.

Indian Food
Skip the appetizer, look for dishes with turmeric, choose tandoori items, stick with lentils and chickpeas, pass on the paneer and ghee, forgo the rice and naan.

Mexican Restaurant
Skip the chips and salsa, fill up on veggies rather than meat, choose pico de gallo and guacamole over sour cream and cheese.

Japanese Restaurant
Limit the rice, start with edamame and green tea, use chopsticks to help you eat mindfully, skip mayo-based sauces

And if you don’t know what kind of food offerings you’ll be faced with, keep these tips in mind:

Start with a broth-based soup or salad with balsamic vinegar and oil. This can help you not feel like you’re starving and must eat everything in sight when the main meal comes.

Skip whatever sort of free starter they bring out first, whether that’s chips and salsa, a bread basket, naan, etc. Usually it’s just empty carbs and calories.

Don’t drink your calories. Instead of soda or booze, opt for water or unsweetened tea instead.

If you can, offer to split an entree with your partner, friend, colleague, etc. That way you’ll automatically have half of a portion.
Load up on veggies. Choose a meal that’s primarily comprised of vegetables so you’ll feel fuller and get more nutrients.

Ask for things like dressings and sauces on the side.
If you’re not sure how something is prepared or what’s in a certain dish, ask the waiter.

Steer clear of fried and sauteed dishes. Opt for grilled, steamed or broiled dishes instead.
Take your time. Eat slowly to give your stomach enough time to tell your brain you’re full.

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