Dining Out during Medical Weight Loss

Dining Out during Medical Weight Loss

Restaurant food tends to be served in big portions, with many meal choices that are too high in fat and carbs to be healthy. Though it’s possible to enjoy a healthy meal at nearly any restaurant, doing so requires careful choices especially if you are trying to lose weight.

Eating out too frequently can affect the health of the whole family. When a family eats out more often, they tend to weigh more. This has been demonstrated by research, but we consider the unhealthy nature of eating in a restaurant, the reasons become clear:

We eat more overall at restaurants.

A typical restaurant serving is actually as large as two or three servings of food. Many popular restaurant chains serve menu items that contain more calories on a single plate than an adult should eat in an entire day.

What Can You Do?

Eat out no more than once per week. We lead busy lives, and this often means we rely on eating out more often than we should. However, preparing your own food at home gives you complete control, and is therefore the best way to ensure that every meal is as healthy as possible. Regardless of who in your family is trying to lose weight, sticking to the once-a-week rule will help everyone stay healthy.

Take half of your meal home. Because portions are oversized and the food is calorically dense, it is best not to eat a full meal at any restaurant. Instead, ask for a to-go box as soon as your food arrives so that you can pack up half of your meal for later.

We eat more fat and carbs in restaurants.

Restaurants tend to make servings look larger by loading up plates with fats and simple carbs like bread, rice, pasta and French fries. This means we end up eating more of these foods and less protein, which tends to be more expensive than carbs.

What Can You Do?

Choose healthier ingredients. Selecting a meal that includes more lean protein and nutritious vegetables than carbohydrates will help you ensure that your meal is as healthy as possible. Do your best to avoid simple, processed carbohydrates, including desserts and sugary beverages.

Food is prepared to taste good, not to be healthy.

Restaurant food tends to be saltier, richer, starchier and more calorically dense. It may have fatty toppings or use cooking practices that add fat. Much like a holiday dinner, the food’s primary purpose is to delight your taste buds, not to promote weight loss.

What Can You Do?

Stay aware of cooking methods. Some ways of cooking are healthier than others. Many cooking methods use oil and butter, while toppings like cheese and cream sauce may also add fat to a meal. It’s best to avoid ordering a meal that includes a term like:

  • Alfredo
  • Au gratin
  • Batter
  • Breaded
  • Cheesy
  • Crispy
  • Creamy
  • Cream sauce
  • Fried
  • Gravy
  • Smothered

Healthier cooking methods include baking, boiling, broiling, grilling, poaching, roasting and steaming.

When you do eat out, remember all the rules you’ve learned about healthy eating. Despite the problems of restaurant food, it is almost always possible to find something healthy to eat if you take the time to read the menu carefully, ask your server for healthy substitutions and keep portion sizes small.