How to Eat Out without the Guilt

I had a major food baby Tuesday night.

I met one of my best friend’s, Kelly, for dinner at a local restaurant and this place has amazing food. Kelly and I were roomies in college, which means: 1. We can talk for hours, and 2. I’m not embarrassed to put away food in front of her. If food is in front of me for a few hours at a time…it doesn’t stand a chance. I end up snacking until that last pita chip, pretzel roll, or shrimp cocktail is gone from the table. I left feeling full of love for my friend, but also full of guilt from my food choices.

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I don’t go out to dinner very often (aside from Chipotle of course) for a number of reasons, but on the rare occasion that I do go out to dinner, I run into this same problem over and over again. I get a little too excited about the rarity of the occasion and go overboard and overeat.

I have a tendency to justify unhealthy dishes by saying, “I could make a salad at home but I can’t make this awesome pasta dish.” I also tend to let myself cheat since I cook dinner or pack my lunch everyday, I feel like I can go all out once in a while. While I don’t discourage cheat meals every once in a while, I don’t think bingeing and justification is the right way to go about it. After I felt sick with guilt after one too many pita slices smothered in gouda cheese, (yes, it is as good as it sounds) I vowed to not let that happen again. I made a list to help myself dine out without the guilt.

1. Three’s Company: Stick with two indulgences with your meal. For example, if you are getting wine and an appetizer with your meal, you can’t get a dessert. Or, if you stick with water as a beverage, go for that appetizer and maybe even a dessert. Always choose two, not all three. This will help to cut calories and save money.

2.H20: Whenever I go out to eat and I am starving, I end up eating the whole bread basket before my meal gets to me. Instead of slamming rolls, or even taking a sip of your wine, try to drink a whole glass of water. Then, see if you still want the rolls.

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Texas Roadhouse Rolls….my ultimate weakness.

3. Doggie Bag: People tend to eat more when the food is right in front of them and restaurant servings are way bigger than a normal serving size. Ask the server to box up half of your meal before it even comes out to avoid overeating. Now, you’ll have leftovers for lunch!

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That’s a whole cow on one plate!

4. Alcohol After: Having that glass of wine before your meal helps you relax, but it could also cause you to overeat and get a case of the “buzz munchies.” Relaxation turns to sluggishness after an indulgent meal out, so save your alcohol for after dinner. It can replace dessert as a treat. Or, ask for wine with club soda, you’ll still get the taste, with half the calories and sugar.

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Sugary margaritas can have as many calories as an entree! Watch out!

5. Pre-Restaurant Snack: Don’t ever go out to eat on an empty stomach. Trust me, it’s not pretty. When you’re hungry/hangry, you’re going to want a big, juicy burger, not a wilted salad. Try to eat a banana or yogurt before you go out to eat so that you can navigate the healthy side of the menu.

6. Enjoy the experience: Half the fun of dining is the social side of it. This is your chance to talk with friends and family away from home, in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a fun experience to be waited on, cooked for, and cleaned up after. If you’re indulging in a nice restaurant, get what you really want. Go for the T-bone steak with mashed potatoes and enjoy every bite of it. Just remember to enjoy the experience.

Those are just a few tips that I have learned and I try to adhere to. Sometimes I forget, and that’s okay, my queasy stomach usually reminds me and I vow to do better next time.

Now its your turn. Do you follow any “rules” when you go out to eat to avoid overeating or overspending? Let me know in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “How to Eat Out without the Guilt

  1. Yum! Rolls are my favorite part of most restaurants and I tend to eat too much! I try to tell myself I won’t be able to enjoy my dinner if I eat another, so that usually works or I just keep sipping my D coke to fill me up a little until my entree comes! 🙂

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