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woman eating salad at restaurantPerhaps you’re looking to consume fewer calories, manage portions or follow a doctor’s dietary plan. Yet for convenience, socializing or trying a new place, you like to eat out. Rather than derail your efforts, understand how to eat mindfully when dining out.

Read the Menu Ahead of Time

Get an idea of what’s in line with your diet, so you know what to expect before going out. This way, you can plan your caloric intake and are less likely to be overwhelmed or distracted by the number of offerings.

Avoid Liquid Calories

A variety of drinks immediately drive up your caloric intake, from soda and fancy coffees to alcohol and milkshakes. Stick with unsweetened iced tea or water with lemon if you want flavor, without the 200-plus calories per serving.

Plan Your Meal

“Extras” add up fast and what you eat ahead of time can curb your appetite. Take the following approach:

  • Limit eating from the bread basket or chips and salsa, if presented at your table.
  • Start with a soup or salad to start filling up before your entrée, without carbohydrates and fats.
  • Rather than order a full entrée, consider an appetizer or split a meal with your dining guest.
  • Portion out your entrée, taking half home for the next day.
  • Before and during the meal, drink water to remain hydrated and consume fewer calories.
  • For dessert, have a cup of coffee or tea instead of a sweet treat.

Understand How Your Food Will Be Prepared

Certain cooking methods add extra fats and oils. In general:

  • Foods listed as grilled, steamed or poached use less oil and therefore fewer calories.
  • Anything sauteed, fried or breaded has more oils and carbohydrates, driving up the calories.
  • Beyond the cooking method, think about sauce and seasonings. Anything cream-based tends to have more calories from fat and carbohydrates. Look for a broth or tomato-based sauce. 
  • Ask for salad dressing on the side.
  • Cut of meat also makes a difference. Sirloin and tenderloin are leaner compared to other types.
  • Avoid processed or blackened meats and skip soy or teriyaki sauce, which can cause bloating and discomfort.

Be Mindful of Salads and Sides

Understand that not all salads are “healthy”. To cut down caloric intake, avoid or limit salads with cheese and nuts on top or a fried cut of meat. Make sure your salad consists primarily of vegetables and use a lighter dressing, such as oil and vinegar for flavor.

If your meal comes with a side, choose a house salad or steamed, leafy green vegetable like broccoli or spinach over fries or a baked potato with butter and sour cream.

Eat Slowly

Don’t rush your meal. It takes about 20 minutes to feel full and eating too much too quickly can increase your caloric intake. Also, avoid eating with distractions like your phone or watching TV, as you’re less likely to notice when you feel full.
Start planning your next meal out at Colony Diner! Review our menu before stopping in.