Eight Steps to Dine Out and Lose Weight

Young woman in fine restaurant, she eats a burgerI constantly survey business travelers on the topic of their health and wellness challenges when on the road.  The biggest concern is always, “I can’t control my weight when I have to eat out so much.”  (It’s followed very closely by lack of sleep, in case you’re wondering…).  “Just tell me what to eat,” is the plea uttered by the vast majority of new clients.

Well, I’ve listened and I’m hard at work on the launch of Dine Out/Lose Weight™ but it won’t be finished until October.  That doesn’t help you now, does it?  And we all want instant gratification… So, here are a few tips to get you started.  They are the tip of the iceberg but should keep you going until I can reveal all my secrets in October!

In a previous post, I talked about zoning out with menus.  That’s when your eyes glaze over and reason evaporates. You are suddenly incapable of making decent menu choices, even though you walked into the restaurant planning on having consommé and broiled chicken with a green salad.  Well, click your heels three times and come back to reality.  Here’s how we’re going to address the menu…

Step One

Start by mentally eliminating all unsuitable items from the menu.  I say mentally because it might not be appropriate to whip out your biro and start putting lines through dishes on someone’s elaborately designed menu.  These dishes will have key words like cream, fried, cheese or all three.

Step Two

Look at the remaining dishes and see how you might be able to manipulate them into something healthy.  Look for vegetables, other than white potatoes.  They are going to be the star of your plate, but they might be hiding as a side dish.  Sautéed spinach, broccoli, asparagus or green beans seem to be the most common options.

Step Three

Find some protein to accompany said vegetables otherwise you won’t feel full.  This will include fish, seafood, lean meats and poultry, tofu and beans.  They should be prepared without elaborate sauces.

Step Four

See if you can get extra vegetables and have them instead of potatoes, white rice or other starches.  If you’re a carb lover, then pick the good guys such as brown rice, quinoa and barley, just limit your portion to half a cup.

Step Five

Make sure the dish comes with a green salad, otherwise order one.  Make sure it’s dressed with an olive oil based dressing.  Anything creamy is on the out so adios to ranch and blue cheese.  Sorry, but you’re here to lose weight.  If dressing is on the side, you can pour about half of it on your salad.  This will vary by restaurant.  Some establishments bring you half a bucket of dressing while others will give you a thimble-full.

Step Six

Drink water until you order and ignore the bread basket.  Don’t feel deprived, you’re going to eat as much of the healthy stuff as you like, until you feel full.  Instead of reaching satiety by overindulging on evil, sugary carbs, you’ll get there with the help of the protein and good fats you’re consuming, such as olive oil in your salad dressing.

Step Seven

Once you’ve ordered, now you can include a glass of wine, which you will enjoy with your food.  Drinking on an empty stomach leads to less rationale around food choices and the alcohol enters your bloodstream way too fast.  You may find yourself dancing on the table for your clients, or tearfully telling them about the demise of the pet spider you had as a child. (Okay, guilty.  His name was Incy Wincy.  Not very original but I loved him).

Step Eight

Pick your poison.  If you REALLY want dessert, you can have three small tastes to savor.  Or, you can have a glass of red wine or champagne instead.  But not both.

Try on these steps and see how they work for you.  There’s much more to this but you have been officially pointed in the right direction.  Let me know how you do and please feel free to post questions.

5 thoughts on “Eight Steps to Dine Out and Lose Weight

  1. I really appreciate your blog. As a new business traveler, striking the balance can seem impossible sometimes. I look forward to following you!

    1. Thank you! Yes, balance is important. Deprivation is out! You might want to check out an event I’m hosting next month that I haven’t posted yet, Healthy Travel Summit: International Expert Interview Series. I’m hoping to do a bonus interview about wine and liquor. The main topics cover all aspects of business travel health. You can check it out at http://www.jaynemcallister.com/healthytravelsummit.
      Happy travels!

  2. Thanks for this post. I’ll be on the road for conferences for over a month. I’m hoping that some of my hotel rooms will have refrigerators (to save leftovers), kitchenettes, or gyms. I’ll be bringing workout clothes for any downtime, and walking to events whenever possible. I’ve even found that many hotel front desks will refrigerate your food if you ask.

    I appreciate these tips for staying healthy while eating out! Unfortunately, I’ve found that in many European restaurants, salads just aren’t as protein-packed or filling as America, while the main dishes can be very fattening (and sometimes bringing home leftovers isn’t a culturally acceptable option).

    1. I appreciate your dilemma. I’m talking a lot about cultural issues in my upcoming book about business travel and health, but I’ve made a note to address the topic in a blog soon. It sounds like you’re taking some great steps towards staying healthy on the road. I have a couple of comments about traveling in Europe. You’re right that there isn’t as much protein on salads in European restaurants, typically. However, here in the US we tend to eat more than twice the amount of required protein per day. That can lead to kidney trouble and excess protein is still stored as fat. I’m also with you on cultural issues regarding getting anything to go and I could tell you some hilarious stories about that. Don’t you find that European portions are generally more realistic? I usually take the time to look at how slim locals are eating and follow their lead. I hope you’ll join me for the healthy travel summit in September. We addressing a slew of topics around staying healthy on the road. http://www.jaynemcallister.com/healthytravelsummit.

      1. I agree that the portions are FAR more realistic, and I sincerely hope it stays that way! Also, restaurants generally don’t offer free refills of anything other than water. It’s a shock paying far more for snack foods in supermarkets as well, because the American government subsidizes corn products in the US, making corn/corn syrup based products far too cheap and convenient.

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