…I eat food and break out in fat! This was a quip by our leader Pat at last week’s meeting. But it’s true for those of us at Weight Watchers. (I’m not trying to make fun of anyone who has a true food allergy – they are very serious and should be very carefully watched.) Last week’s topic was eating out. How appropriate since one member mentioned that her husband was taking her out to eat – again! He felt she had worked hard enough over the years she deserved to not have to cook. He felt he was being kind to her but she was worried that she couldn’t keep on her WW journey eating out all the time.
She had good reason to be a bit worried. Studies have shown that everything from portions to how food is made in restaurants is always MORE and not in the good way. Portions are usually 2-3 times the amount they should be and lots of fattening things like butter and oil are used instead of healthier options.
So what can you do? Only eat a salad at your favorite place? Don’t go out at all? No, there are lots of tips and tricks you can do to keep on your journey, enjoy the food and still eat out. Here are some of the suggestions our group came up with:
- Think about what you are going to eat ahead of time
- Check to see if they have a web site and review the menu
- Have a salad first (dressing on the side)
- Use your mouth! Tell them you are on Weight Watchers. I’ve done this and often found that the waitress (or in one case the chef who actually came out and suggested the point value of items for me) has been there done that and can make suggestions.
- Ask how things are cooked. Steamed veggies sound very healthy but one place mentioned that they put butter on it afterwards which changes things.
- Split a meal with someone else.
- Use the kid’s menu – smaller portions of meals and they are cheaper!
- Many places will let you substitute healthier options for some of those less healthy sides.
- If you have something like syrup for waffles or pancakes – do it like you would salad dressing. Ask for it on the side and then dip your fork into the syrup and then into your waffles/pancakes.
- If eating out with several people suggest that you all share (ala family style). I’ve done this often at Chinese restaurants so everyone gets a taste or small portion of several great tasting dishes.
- Get your “doggie bag” early and immediately put half of the portion in there and pack it up. If you only have half the portion on your plate you are less tempted to eat the whole thing.
- Decline breads – lovely as they maybe the carbs do add up.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water and not soda. Unsweetened iced tea is also an option.
- Look for the right words in the menu – broiled, baked, steamed, etc. are much healthier than fried, au gratin, battered, etc.
- Pour salt or ketchup (just like one of the Real Housewives of Orange County) over the remaining food so you aren’t tempted to eat more than you should.
Follow these suggestions and you can still eat out but you’ll eat smart.
Many of us and not just those on Weight Watchers love salads. The latest salmonella scare has hit bagged salads. So double-check that bag before you make your lunch or dinner!
While on the topic of salads I thought I’d mention a few tips about making them so you don’t blow all your points. If you are using eTools you maybe familiar with the “cheat sheet” sections. I find them very enlightening because they teach me how to make better choices in regards to certain foods (such as the grill, cocktails, Mexican, etc.). They also have one for salad savvy.
Don’t fall into the trap that all salads are healthy or low points because they have lots of veggies. Things like chicken, cheese, avocados, and croutons can suddenly make a 0 point meal bloom into 20 something points! I learned the hard way early on in my weight loss journey. I was at lunch with a friend and in too much of a hurry to consult my eTools or use my smartphone to surf for nutritional information for the restaurant. We were at La Madeleine and I saw the Spinach Salad with Chicken and thought not only yummy but should be low point. That was until I looked at their nutritional information later….10 points just for the salad. Okay, I can handle that. Maybe a bit more than I normally allow myself for lunch but still a healthier choice than some menu items. That was until I looked up the dressing! I got the balsamic vinaigrette thinking it was a better choice. I took my smartphone with the Weight Watchers app and was appalled at the number. Not every restaurant does salads the same way. SO a spinach salad at one place maybe high in points and not at another – make sure you check and don’t assume.
A trick I learned long ago that sticks with me now is a big help in keeping those salad points down. Make sure you get the dressing on the side. Many places are offering that as the default way salads come but make sure you ASK (see my post on asking). Another great tip is to either take a fork full of salad and dip just one small part into the salad dressing or even better yet just dip the fork into the dressing first then stab your salad. You will certainly consume less fat and calories from the dressing this way and the salad will still taste great!