One of my patients called her regular Saturday night outing “Faturday” because it was the day of the week when she let her guard down and didn’t pay much attention to what or how much she ate.
She shared how surprised she was to realize how this one day of the week could undo all the good progress she had previously made.
We talked about how weekends are a time to unwind and have fun – but not a time to derail all your progress
By following some easy tips, dinners out and socializing with friends can easily fit into your healthy lifestyle program – if you have a plan.
Here are 5 tips to guide you:
1 – Don’t begin your night out hungry
In anticipation of a big night out, some individuals think they should skip meals or snacks to save calories. But when you go long periods without eating, intense feelings of hunger arise, making it harder to make those good food choices.
Instead, I recommend planning a 100-200 calorie late afternoon snack so you don’t begin your night out starving.
2 – Know what you want to order before walking in the restaurant
If available, look at the menu online and decide what you want to order before you even get to the restaurant.
This is one of the most helpful tips because you’re able to look at the menu more objectively when you’re thinking more clearly and not being tempted by all the foods being served around you.
“Know before you go” is my motto.
3 – Pay attention to portion traps
When you eat your meals at home, you don’t usually have someone filling up your bread basket, offering bottles of wine, serving you oversized portions enough to feed a twosome or more or offering endless dessert options.
But this is the norm when eating out. Be ready for it. Treating ourselves on the weekend doesn’t have to mean overeating.
Good strategies that have worked for my patients and can work for you too are to skip the bread basket altogether, enjoy and savor a glass of wine (instead of a bottle), split an entrée (or take half home) and get your own salad, and share a few bites of a dessert you love.
Eat slowly, savor your food and enjoy!
4 – Order your way
Ordering foods your way is one of the best ways to eat out healthfully:
“I’ll have the grilled fish instead of fried.”
“Sauce on the side, please.”
“Vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressing.”
“Side of fruit salad instead of hash brown potatoes.”
“Broth-based instead of cream soup.”
As I tell patients who are apprehensive about being more assertive when ordering food, you just need to start doing it.
With time, you will become more comfortable taking control and not letting the restaurant dictate your health!
5 – Build activity into your night
Food doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of your nights out. What about planning an active night out, such as bowling, shuffleboard, miniature golf or dancing?
Engaging in new activities with friends can be invigorating for both the mind and body.
Or when weather permits, take some time for an after-dinner walk. Walking and talking can be a nice way to end your evening – and can also give you an energy boost as a bonus.
Enjoy your health!
Robert Kushner, MD
Are you struggling with eating out healthfully on the weekends? Feel free to ask me a question or share your experiences on my Contact page.