How to Enjoy Dinners Out Healthy-Style

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

Anyone trying to lose weight and live healthy knows: Dinners out can be a recipe for total diet destruction. But they don’t have to be! Follow these simple tips to make sure you’re next evening out doesn’t wreak havoc on your waistline:

1. Plan Ahead

If you have a say in the restaurant selection, do your research. Hop online and peruse some websites. Choose the restaurant that serves up healthy options like green salads and lean proteins. Review the menu before heading out, and settle on the meal you’ll order before you even leave the house. Look for veggie-based dishes or lean meats that are grilled or baked. Avoid fried foods or selections covered in creamy sauces. Check out the Dining Out Guide for help honing in on healthy options at 30 of the most popular eateries nationwide. Healthy hint: Avoid buffets, which make overeating way too easy.

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2. Know Your Terminology

When navigating a menu, avoid foods with these words in the description: Au gratin, battered, breaded, crispy, fried, pan-fried, creamy, buttery, scalloped and supersized. Opt for foods described as baked, broiled, grilled, fresh, roasted, seasoned with herbs and spices, rotisserie, sautéed, steamed, low-fat or fat-free. Check out the Dining Out Guide for more help deciphering culinary jargon.

3. Don’t Drink Your Calories

Did you know that just one 12-ounce can of regular soda clocks in at about 150 calories and a whopping 38 grams of sugar? Dangerous territory—especially when you factor in free refills. Just as calorie-dense? Wine and beer. And forget mixed drinks—some contain half a day’s calories in just one small glass! Even worse, alcoholic beverages can lead to dehydration, which can make you feel even hungrier. Plus, they may weaken your willpower, which can result in overeating. Opt for water with lemon or seltzer with lime. If you absolutely must order an alcoholic beverage, opt for a small glass of dry wine, a light beer or one shot of liquor mixed with zero calorie blenders. Healthy hint: Drink one full glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink. This will help you cut back on alcohol and calories while also keeping you hydrated.

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4. Focus on the Company

A year from today, what are you more likely to remember—the food you ordered or the memories you made with family and friends? More than the food, going out to eat is about spending quality time with loved ones—away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Don’t lose sight of that fact. Savor the sights, the sounds and the company first… and the food second. Healthy hint: Keep the conversation going. The more you talk, the slower you eat and the more time you have to realize you’re full.

5. Take Your Time

Speaking of feeling full… Did you know it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it’s satiated? Take your time eating and really savor every bite. Put your fork down between bites and make sure to chew your food thoroughly. Sip on water throughout your meal, and try to be the last to finish your food.

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6. Stick with One Serving

Restaurant servings tend to be much bigger than a standard serving. Consider ordering a side salad and splitting an entree with your fellow diner, or check out the kids’ menu. Another option? Ask for a to-go container when you place your order, and put half of the entrée immediately in the doggie bag. If you feel full and there is still food on your plate, ask your waiter to remove the plate before you give way to mindless munching. Learn more about proper portion sizes here.

7. Customize

Don’t be afraid to make your waiter work! Ask for a side salad or grilled veggies instead of fries or chips. Sub in low-fat, vinegar-based dressings for creamier options. Skip the butter, mayonnaise and high calorie add-ons, and ask if your dish can be prepared without added fats. Request that meats and fishes be grilled or baked, and order extra veggies and low-fat cheese on sandwiches, salads, pizzas and wraps.

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8. Stick with Your Normal Schedule

Don’t skip meals in anticipation of a dinner out. You’ll likely end up being so hungry by the time you make it to dinner that you’ll eat anything that’s put in front of you—healthy or not. Enjoy your Nutrisystem meals and snacks throughout the day, and you’ll be less likely to go overboard at ordering time. Healthy hint: Work in a workout for some added calorie burn on a day you might indulge in a meal out.

9. Help Yourself to Dessert…At Home!

You know you have a delicious Nutrisystem treat waiting for you in your cabinet that’s totally guilt-free. So opt out of sweet treats at the restaurant that will cost you more calories and dollars, and enjoy one of your favorite guilt-free go-tos after your meal—in the comfort of your own home. Healthy hint: If the rest of your party wants to have their cake and eat it, too, order a coffee and a side of fresh fruit.

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10. Call for Back-Up

Need some help mastering a menu? Don’t forget: Our trained Weight Loss Coaches are standing by to help. So whether you need help settling on a restaurant or choosing a healthy meal, feel free to call a coach at 1-800-585-5483 for some healthy help!