Dining Out And Losing Weight

In the fifth week of its "Weight Off With The Early Show" series, The Early Show tackled the issue of dining out. But it's not just restaurant dining. The program also drew attention to everything from formal dining to fast-food establishments, to fully stacked buffets.

The biggest problem with the eateries above is that have they have the uncanny ability to lull a person into a food-induced haze. Most often, it's the food itself that is the enticement.

Other times, it's the amount of food that comes with each serving.

Still others find the ease of accessibility to be a part of the problem.

Whatever the reason, for the person attempting to lose weight by adopting an overall lifestyle change, dining out can be more than just a bit of a challenge.

Dr. Lou Aronne suggested ways to manage eating out and still lose weight. He also spoke to 51-year-old Chicago participant Suzanne Stantley. Suzanne's business routine revolves around numerous professional lunches and dinners.

Here are Dr. Aronne's suggestions:

  • PLAN AHEAD FOR YOUR MEAL
    Have an idea of what you want to eat before arriving at the restaurant and order the healthiest/leanest entrees: chicken, turkey or shellfish. When possible, avoid looking at the menu so as not to be tempted by other food choices. Arrive at the restaurant ready to eat, but not starving. Eat a light snack 1 -2 hours before the meal, this helps one curb hunger and exercise control. Cut back 100 calories the day before and the day after dinner out. Increase exercise if possible.
  • AVOID BREAD
    Negotiate around the bread-basket, or have one or two slices of unbuttered bread and have the waiter take away the bread basket. By not having bread and butter, one saves anywhere from 300 to 500 calories. Skip the bread if the plan is to have a starch with the entree.
  • ORDER FIRST
    Don't be the last to order, listening of everyone else's meal choice can entice one to order a higher calorie special. Order a la carte to avoid complete dinners that include more high calorie foods. Don't feel obligated to consume everything because there's a price tag attached.
  • WATCH PORTION SIZES
    If served large portions, leave some on the plate, or take home a "doggie bag."
  • CARRY SMART SNACKS
    Carry around emergency healthy snacks like fruit coupled with a little protein (fruit w/nuts; apple with peanut butter; cottage cheese with fruit). Low calorie protein bars are great options (Pure Protein bars are a great choice - eat half if it's a large bar; Balance Bars and Lunar Bars are also recommended). Look for those that have at least 3 grams of fiber. Or if low in fiber select those that are also low in sugar and low in carbohydrate.
  • REFOCUS
    Change food as the main focus of dining out. Enjoy all the reasons why (other than the food) restaurant dining make for a special evening. The goal with trying to eat differently is to change how one thinks. Concentrate on the company, the decor the little things that have nothing to do with the food.
  • WRITE A DIET AFFIRMATION
    Remain positive always. When struggling with the plan, write a positive affirmation to remind oneself of something good. Hopefully, this will help the negative eating behavior from recurring.
  • LIMIT ALCOHOL
    Alcohol derails healthy eating by making one hungrier, and adding unnecessary calories.
  • SHARE DESSERT
    If one must have dessert, share it with a friend. If you do that, you will eat fewer calories.
  • FEW CUISINES ARE TABOO
    Smart food choices can be found at just about every restaurant or fast food establishment.
  • FRIED FOODS
    Peel the skin off and just eat the meat. Just about every fried chicken restaurant has a broiler; order the broiled chicken instead. Have chicken tenders with the fried batter peeled off, have coleslaw as the vegetable instead of mashed potatoes.
  • ORDER A KIDDIE MEAL
    Get the same food in smaller quantity which meals fewer calories. Have an open face burger without the French fries.
  • BUSINESS DINNERS
    Start with a light non-cream based soup; order a salad with dressing on the side; order a leaner cut of meat when possible and eat a smaller portion.
Try asking for a nutrition fact sheet from your favorite restaurant. This way, one can make a more educated decision about what to eat, because the nutritional facts are all laid out.

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