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Lose Weight While (Still) Eating Out at Restaurants

Leather Menu CoverDining out can be really overwhelming, what with all those luscious, appetizing meals on the menu with a luxurious-looking menu cover. It’s just so hard to resist the choices of food, and you can’t seem to control how much calories you take in one meal. Whatever progress you have had on the scale, you are losing it in restaurant dining rooms. Here’s good news: careful planning spells a difference.

Recent studies show that an average American consumes 570 extra calories a day, on top of the 2,000 daily recommended calorie intake for women and 2,500 for men. One reason for this is the large meal sizes that restaurants serve to diners. “Enormous portions make Americans enormous, and with these enormous people we get enormous cases of obesity and diabetes,” said Mary Ann Turlington, a dietitian at the Onslow County (North Carolina) Health Department. She, too, used to struggle with weight-loss over 30 years ago. But after she lost 100 pounds in a span of one year, she was able to maintain her weight for more than three decades now. Exercise, choosing healthier food and controlling the restaurant’s portioning are her secrets to continuous weight loss, despite constant dine-outs at restaurants and bars.

For one, realize that one serving at a restaurant can feed not just one person, but two or three. In worse cases, it can even serve up to four people. If one doesn’t have enough control and eats all of those in one sitting, he’ll surely gain a whole lot of weight. So, when you go to a steak house and you are about to devour that scrumptious baked potato, stop and remember. Cut it in thirds and eat only one-third of the serving.

Next, keep in mind that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to realize that our stomach is already full. Turlington suggests that we start each meal by drinking 16 ounces of water to prevent ourselves from overeating. Sugary sodas, juices and teas can also work, although not heavily recommended, as these are also heavy on calories. Or if you’re not so comfortable with water, you can eat a salad, or get some soup or broth.

Keep an eye on the oils, sugars and fattening dressings that accompany those seemingly healthy salads, vegetables and healthy beans. You can have it placed in a separate sauce dish, and just dip your food in the dressing – it still gives flavor to your every bite and it somehow controls your calorie intake. Salsa is healthier with baked potato than sour cream.

Try to keep away from battered, dipped, mayonnaise-based and creamed food, which are all packed with extra calories. You can also skip the pre-meal bread basket, if only to prevent yourself from munching it out of boredom while waiting for your meal.

Buffets are considered disastrous for someone in a diet, as we tend to load up on food, hoping to get our money’s worth. Turlington suggests taking a simple approach – walking around the buffet stations first and quickly scanning the dishes that are offered even before you pick up your plate.

And lastly, get a clearer idea on the calorie count of your favorite dishes, so you can balance it out throughout the day or the week. A slice of pizza gives you roughly 290 calories, while a regular hamburger has 245 calories. A cup of spaghetti meatballs contain 330 calories, tacos has 195, while a three-ounce slice of sirloin steak has 240 calories. A 4.9 ounce of fried chicken contains 365 calories and a cup of rich vanilla ice cream has 350 calories.

This shouldn’t be a problem, though, as pretty soon, all restaurants are bound to display the calorie count of all food items displayed in their menus that has elegant menu covers. With that happening, you can make better informed choices on the meals that you are taking. You still get to enjoy dining out, and successfully maintain or lose weight in the process.