There is little as fabulously indulgent as heading out to your favorite restaurant, ordering a cocktail and devouring a decadent meal. That is, until you survey the empty plates and your bloated belly and think, "I'm going to pay for this tomorrow." Luckily, wellness expert, David Kirsch has created a cheat sheet for dining out guilt free.
1. Do your homework
Research restaurants in your area that will accommodate modifications. Look for places that allow you to substitute whole eggs for egg whites for breakfast, offer lean meat and salad with dressing on the side for lunch and grilled chicken or fish with steamed vegetables for dinner.
2. Eat before you eat out
When you're hungry, any and all food looks appealing. Have your first course at home to take the edge off. Choose a small protein shake or a hard-boiled egg.
3. Say no to free food
Most restaurants bring out tempting foods like tortilla chips and bread before the meal. Send them back or let the host know beforehand not to bring them to the table.
4. Sip safely
Alcoholic drinks are often packed with calories, so make sure you weigh your options carefully. Your best bet is heart-healthy red wine which contains fewer calories and carbs than other types of alcohol. Your absolute worst option is a sugar-laden mixed drink, like a Pina Colada.
5. Say no to starters
While it's best to abstain altogether, if you can't resist, choose a mixed salad or broth-based soup. Order oil and vinegar on the side and ask for a wedge of lemon, both of which can suppress your appetite so you eat less when your main course arrives.
6. Keep it simple
Choose lean protein plus veggies for your main course. Look for grilled, broiled or poached fish, chicken, turkey or lean sirloin and avoid anything fried, basted, braised, au gratin, crispy, escalloped, pan-fried, sautéed, stewed or pan-roasted. If your dish comes with a sauce or gravy, order it on the side. If your dish comes with a starch, ask to substitute another vegetable instead.
7. Go with your gut
To prevent the sensation of feeling stuffed, tune in to your hunger signals and try to portion your meal ahead of time. A serving of meat should be no larger than the palm of your hand. As soon as your plate hits the table, slice off any extra and have packed up in a take-out container.
8. Skip the sweet stuff
Avoid temptation by declining to see the dessert menu following your meal. Don't be fooled by low-fat offerings such as sorbets and fruit cobblers, they're typically loaded with sugar and calories.
For more eating, wellness and fitness tips, see www.DavidKirschWellness.com.