Low lighting, soft music, indulgent wait staff — restaurants are in the business of making you feel like a VIP, because the longer you stay and the less you care about much you eat and spend, the more money the restaurant makes. The best way not to overindulge is to step through the door prepared.
Sneak an advance peek
- The best way not to let the atmosphere dissolve your determination to eat well is to do a little reconnaissance work before you even leave the house.
- Look online for the menus of the restaurant you’re going to; some chains even post nutritional information.
- Look for options that fit into your eating plan — and identify those that you promise yourself you’ll stay away from.
Look for “healthy choices”
- Many people these days are trying to make healthy choices when they dine out, and restaurants are taking notice. Most eateries have a list of no-frills healthy dishes on their menus; most meats are baked or braised, and vegetables are usually steamed.
- If you’re really counting calories and fat grams, head straight for this section of the menu.
Never “save up” calories
- If you’re tempted to skimp on breakfast or lunch so you can indulge in a bigger dinner, resist.
- For anyone with diabetes, it’s important to eat the same amounts of food at about the same time of day every day to help ensure steady blood sugar.
- And skipping lunch before a big dinner out could very well backfire — you’ll find it nearly impossible to resist the bread on the table, and defences against fatty, high-calorie dishes will be down.
Have a healthy snack at home
- Time the snack for one hour before leaving, assuming that you’re eating an hour later than you normally do, as people tend to do when they eat out. (If you’re eating at the normal time and you didn’t have an afternoon snack planned, skip this pre-dinner snack.)
- Munch on a small piece of fruit and 25 grams (one ounce) of low-fat string cheese.
- Not only will a snack curb your appetite, but the feeling of having just eaten will keep you from picking at the complimentary bread or tortilla chips.
Prepare dessert in advance
- Prepare a light berry crumble, a sugar-free gelatin with fresh fruit, or a baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar substitute.
- Later, when you’re at the restaurant and you’re handed the dessert menu, you’ll remember that you have a treat waiting for you at home.
Wear a silk blouse, or tight pants
- Whether you dine at a four-star eatery or a diner, what you wear can affect what your order. With tight pants tugging at your tummy, you literally won’t have room to gorge on a big dinner.
- And chances are, if you are wearing your favourite blouse, you’ll be afraid of ruining it, and you’ll shy away from heavily sauced or oily entrées.
- The worst thing to wear? Stretchy or elastic-waist pants with room for expansion.
Chew gum on your way in
- Just as brushing your teeth early in the evening keeps you from late-night snacking, popping a fresh piece of mint chewing gum just before you go into the restaurant will help you pass up sugary sodas and other pre-dinner temptations.
- Only after the waiter takes your order should you discreetly toss out the gum; that still gives you at least 15 minutes or so for your mouth to return to normal and your dinner entrée to taste as enjoyable as you’d hoped.