Eating out, part 1

24 Jan

So if you have been following my blog, reading my posts and observing my habits, you may think that healthy eating comes easily for me. And that’s true – most of the time. When I am in control, cooking and eating in my own kitchen, I generally find healthy eating not to be to great a challenge (not ALWAYS, after all, I am human). However, things change when I dine out. I’m not really one of those people who finds it easy to order something and only eat half of it – I like to clean my plate (even if I’m already full 😦 ). I’m working at this.

When I dine out, I don’t want to feel like I’m depriving myself. I try my best to order the healthier options on the menu, which is usually what I do. But sometimes, dining out is splurge time for me, and I’ll think to myself; “I’m at a restaurant, I want to indulge, and order something decadent, ” then I stuff myself and end up feeling guilty. I know there is a happy medium somewhere in between these two, and that is what I’m trying to find. I ate out a few times over the weekend, and overall, I felt fairly successful – satisfied, not deprived, but not over-stuffed (trust me, it doesn’t always end like this). So I thought I’d share with you what worked for me. Part 2 will come on the weekend, so you can try out some of these tricks for yourself if you happen to be out on the town.

My Mom, a friend and I went out for dinner at Boston Pizza on Friday. I wanted to have what is a typical Friday night meal for me, pizza and salad. Now, I’m sure by now many of you have heard the horrors of restaurant salads – fatty dressings, loads of heavy toppings like cheese, croutons and bacon. But, if you order right, a restaurant salad can still be a healthy option. I kept it simple with the garden greens salad (translation: just lettuce and veggies, no crazy add-ons). And you’ve also heard the old “order the dressing on the side” trick – which I always do. And vinaigrette dressings are always a better option than creamy ones. But what’s even better than vinaigrette dressing? Salsa! On WW, it has 0 points and it’s totally fat free! The black cup in the top right of the photo was full of salsa, and I used it all guilt-free, plus a little salt and pepper. This was a great way to start off my meal with a salad that would fill me up, but not weigh me down.

One benefit of dining at a chain restaurant is that most of them have calorie counts online. That means that if you know where you’re going, you can do some research online before you go. I’ve done this before for BP, so I already know that their BBQ Chicken pizza is one of the lowest calorie options on the pizza menu (thankfully it happens to be a flavour combo I enjoy). This is a small pizza, which my mom and I split (it has 8 slices, and is about the size of a small dinner plate). I got BBQ chicken for my half. I ate about 2 and a half pieces. I could have eaten more, but tried to pace myself and enjoy the conversation. I consider it a victory whenever I leave food on my plate at a restaurant. If you’re trying to lose weight/eat less, start small. Each time you go out to eat, try to leave at least one bite on your plate, then slowly increase the portion you leave behind each time.

Now if you’re going out for pizza and don’t have access to a calorie count, don’t freak out, just use your head. Any pizza that’s topped with loads of meat or rich sauce is bound to be higher in calories. Go for a thinner crust if you can, load up on veggies and leaner meats like chicken or ham. You can still enjoy pizza night without wrecking a healthy eating plan!

As I said above, eating out is still a struggle for me. But it’s a part of life that is not going to go away (unless I become a social hermit), so learning to enjoy a restaurant meal without overdoing it or depriving myself is something I need to work at. What about you? Is dining out a challenge if you’re trying to eat healthy? How have you made it work for you?

Stay tuned for part 2 coming on Saturday!


2 Responses to “Eating out, part 1”

  1. Catherine M.A. January 25, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    don’t become a social hermit, hilary! these are great tips…especially the salsa one! what a good idea!!


  1. Snowy Saturday Splurge « hungryhealthyhilary - January 30, 2011

    […] I’ve said before, dining out is difficult for me. I am really trying to get better at savouring every bite, and not […]

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