Q: I eat out with a group that enjoys an entire evening of eating. We start with appetizers that we all share, followed by salads, the main course, and dessertsâ€”all while sipping wine and other fun drinks. Any suggestions on how to survive these meals on plan and still be part of the group?
A: It might be easier than you think to eat out with friends and still lose weight. You just need to plan.
- When possible, suggest a restaurant with lots of health-conscious options so you'll have more to choose from.
- Set yourself up rightâ€”eating light earlier in the day will allow for cake, frothy beverages or whatever tempts you most.
- Don't eat so light, however, that you're starved and put away three rolls as soon as you sit down to the table.
- Have a high-fiber snack just before you go, to curb your hunger. Try something low-cal like an apple, carrots or black-bean dip or vegetable soup.
- Decide in advance what's worth splurging on and what you can do without. Having a game plan is helpful when faced with lots of tempting items.
- Since you're all sharing appetizers, make sure to place an order for one that'll work for you too: Shrimp cocktail, edamame, steamed vegetable dumplings and mussels marinara are all super options.
- Order your salad dressing on the sideâ€”or just use plain oil and vinegar and go light on the oil, heavy on the vinegar.
- For your main course, think broiled, boiled, steamed or saut©ed rather than crispy, au gratin or fried.
- Consider ordering an appetizer and a side dish for an entr©e instead of a main meal. You can't ask for easier portion control!
- Or, split an entr©e with a friend. There's bound to be someone else at the table who's looking to cut back a little, too.
- Opt for fresh berries or fruit salad for dessert. Accompany them with a cup of flavored tea or a skim milk cappuccinoâ€”something to sip that'll keep your hands busy and out of others' treats.
- As for drinking, alternate alcoholic drinks with non-caloric beverages such as seltzer with lemon, sparkling water with lime or diet soda.
- Stick to wine or beer rather than sugar-loaded, high-calorie drinks like margaritas and pina coladas. Better yet, try a wine spritzer or a light beer.
- Put off ordering a drink until you have some food in your belly. Drink on an empty stomach and you're more like to get tipsy and forget about your intentions to eat well.
- Lastly, keep in mind that healthful eating is not about being "perfect." If you get carried away in the excitement of an evening and eat or drink more than you had planned for, don't sweat it. One night of over-indulgence won't rack up the poundsâ€“just get back on track the next day.