Have you ever been at home after dinner with friends and wonder why you feel stuffed even though you barely remember enjoying the food that you obviously ate? I have been there time and time again. I would tell myself – only nibble a little of the appetizer, eat some of the main meal and take the rest home. I was good at it sometimes but most times I was not. I just knew that I needed to learn how to eat less when dining out in order to avoid that gross overly full feeling (and to keep extra pounds from creeping on as well).
Where did I begin? First I had to figure out what the problem was so that I could work on it. I eventually realized that the main problem I faced was that I was so busy socializing that I didn’t really realize all the food that I was consuming. The cycle of chatting and subsequently listening to my friends (while almost unconsciously eating large amounts of spinach artichoke dip) just had to end. It seemed easy from the outside, but once I was actually in a dining situation it wasn’t always as easy – but I have learned how to eat less when dining out – most of the time and I thought I would share some of the tips that have worked for me.
How to Eat Less When Dining Out
Eat before you get there
I cannot stress this enough. If you have gone to the grocery store with an empty stomach you know that you are more likely to buy a bunch of random food and snack items. The same goes for going to a restaurant starving. If you eat a small healthy snack before hand you will be less likely to overindulge. I usually carry dry snacks – nuts, trail mix or low carb protein bars in my purse so that I have something to snack on. If you have time at home before dining out – go ahead and eat a healthy snack before you head out so you don’t arrived ready to devour everything in sight.
Treat yo’ self… to water
If you are going to buy soda, alcohol or any other type of beverage I suggest that you drink a glass of water before you even order it. Continue drinking a glass of water between every beverage that you order/refill as well. Ask for a lemon if that is your thing – either way – stay hydrated and get in as much water as you can. If you really want to challenge yourself drink a couple of sips of water after each bite that you take. I like to take a bite, swallow it and sips some water.
Order to share
If you frequent a particular spot with the same people you usually get a feel of the menu, serving sizes and what each of you like. If a couple of you enjoy a particular dish (or dishes) but usually don’t finish them see if you can split a couple dishes between each other. This can mean less food + calories (to consume) and sometimes a lower bill as well. WIN-WIN.
A group of us love California Pizza Kitchen and pretty much enjoy the same food from there so we usually order a pizza, salad and sometimes a pasta dish and share it. One thing I noticed is that when sharing dishes people tend to eat less in general because they have to ask someone else to pass them something. Another option is to see if they sell smaller portions of your favorites – tell the wait staff what you like and see if they can come up with something that works better for you.
Pack up half of your meal
I have done this successfully on several occasions and I’m so glad that I did. I end up with a yummy leftover for later and don’t end up feeling stuffed at the end of the evening. You can ask for a container right away or some restaurants will actually box up half of it for you if you request. Either way – if it is packed up and put away you are probably less likely to nibble at it – even when you’re not physically hungry but distracted by conversation.
Say yes to the bread basket (wait… keep reading)
I know most people will say to completely refuse to have the bread basket on your table. I love bread and I know most people do as well. So if you really want to have some bread – have it. Just make sure they don’t keep bringing a new basket and if you choose to have a piece – drink a glass of water with it (see previous tip).
This is probably my favorite tip, however, it isn’t really that easy to do. If you are trying to eat less when dining out though it may be a good idea to try it out. The way that I do it may differ from how you do it but my main thing to do is to stop what I’m doing – eating, talking, drinking and so on and just get present in the moment as often as I can. Next I will focus on my food and have appreciation for the people I am with and the delicious food I am eating. And finally I will take a bite, chew and really enjoy and take in the flavor – savor every moment. You can do it!
I hope that you enjoyed my tips on how to eat less when dining out. Which tip was your favorite? If you have any tips you would like to add please let us know in the comments. Happy dining.