Eat out and Still Lose Weight

By Rebecca Jones

According to a new study, dining out doesn’t have to derail your dieting efforts despite the large portions being served up at many of your favorite restaurants.

With more people consuming a large percentage of their meals away from home it is increasingly important to learn how to stick to a diet in a restaurant setting. Researchers were able to come up with 6 tips that allowed women to lose weight without spending less time in restaurants.

To conduct their study that was published Tuesday in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior researchers followed 35 middle aged women for a 6 week period to see if following a weight gain prevention program would cause more weight loss. 19 of the women between the ages of 40 and 59 years old were instructed on how to prevent weight gain and the other 16 were not.

The women in the instruction group were both incentivized with gift cards as well as expected to attend a weekly 2 hour session  where they set weekly goals, were given strategies to employ when eating out and were taught to appreciate the smell, texture and sight of food through mindful eating meditations.

After the 6 week period, researchers found that the prevention group consumed less fat and calories and lost more weight than those in the control group and they did it without reducing the number of meals they consumed at restaurants. While some claim that offering a financial incentive may have skewed the results the overall evidence does point to the idea that mindful eating and employing weight management strategies is effective for weight loss. Here are the 6 strategies employed by researchers for conducting their weight loss study.

Research the restaurant’s menu before going out to eat. Menus can be deceptive a healthy sounding salad may contain over 1,000 calories. Looking up nutritional content before leaving the house will make it easier to make an informed decision about what to order once you get to the restaurant.

Ask your server to box up half your meal before it is served to you. Restaurant portions have become exceptionally large making it difficult to know when to stop eating. If there is less food put in front of you, you are far less likely to overdo it.

Budget calories the way you would a financial allowance. If you want to spend big at dinner eat lighter meals for lunch and breakfast. Beware of cutting back to much however to avoid overeating later on. The key to making your calorie budget work is finding a healthy balance.

Order all your extras on the side. If you want a little gravy or salad dressing ask your server to bring it out on the side this way you can be aware of how much of these calorie laden foods you are consuming.

Savor the experience. Going out to eat shouldn’t be a race to the cleanest plate. Eat slowly, enjoying the taste and smell of your meal. The slower you eat the more time your body will have to let you know that it is full.

Only eat what you love. If there is food on your plate that you don’t particularly like why consume the extra calories? Don’t skip your vegetables but if the mashed potatoes get cold leave them behind.