Eating out while dieting

Are you trying to lose weight or start new healthy eating habits? Eating healthy and keeping your nutrition on track at home can be the easy part, but things can get tricky when you go out to eat. If you live a busy lifestyle, sometimes fitting time into your day to pack food can be difficult. Some people don’t want to travel with food, or just want to enjoy going out with friends to dinner, even though they’re on a diet. You definitely can enjoy eating out in moderation and still reach your goals. The key is knowing what and how to order your food to make clean choices while on the go. Here are 7 foodBUILT tips to help keep you on track while dining out: Control the environment of what you want. Ask for no bread basket. If you ask the server to hold the bread, you will automatically save yourself all the calories, processed carbohydrates and butter you could be tempted to throw in your mouth. Simply put, if it is not on the table, you will not be tempted to eat it. Make others aware of your goals. If you go out to eat with friends, make sure they are supportive of you and what you are trying to accomplish. Many times friends will try to throw double-decked nachos, calorie-loaded margaritas and other bad options in your face and that will get you off your plan. Don’t let the people around you affect your choices. You have a voice and are able to make your own choices. Speak up! Friends are there to support one another — remember that. You can make modifications in many restaurants. Don’t feel like you are bothering someone by asking them to modify the meal if they can. You are paying for it, so you should get what you want. Many restaurants’ fish and chicken options are fried and breaded, but you can simply ask them to have it grilled for you. A note on side dishes: Steamed is the key word. Sautéed, fried or dipped usually means it is loaded with oils and calories. Steamed vegetables will help you add fiber to keep you fuller longer. Ask for a double serving of vegetables instead of a double serving of starchy carbohydrate for your side dishes. Craving dessert? If you 100-percent want some dessert, don’t ignore those cravings to save you from overeating later. Choose a smaller dessert that can be split between everyone and have a spoonful or two. This way you have 100 calories instead of 700-plus calories. You also helped your cravings and won’t raid the kitchen when you get home. Watch your portions and don’t lick the plate clean. As a rule of thumb, about 4-5 ounces of protein is roughly the size of your hand without the thumb. A serving of carbohydrate is roughly the size of your fist. You can leave some food on the plate. Many restaurants load up on double or triple portions. Take your time to eat and drink water between your bites. This will allow your body to fill up on the food and make you less tempted to overeat. Alcohol adds major calories and stops your body from burning fat temporarily. In simple terms, alcohol is a poison you put in your body. Once in your system, your body has to get rid of it. When you drink and eat at the same time, your body puts on hold digesting the calories from your food. First, your body has to break down the alcohol sugars from the liquor and wait for them to be out of your system. As soon as alcohol is processed out of your body, then your body will start using the calories from the food you ate. Remember: Alcohol sugars are seven calories per gram — that is more than double protein and carbohydrates (four calories per gram) and almost as much as fat in calories (nine) per gram.

Char Biggs is a registered personal trainer at 12th Street Gym. To learn more about Char, visit his website or

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