How to Beat the System When Dining Out

Don't be fooled by the title. I'm not here with any pointers on walking out of your local Applebee's without paying, or any criminal activity along those lines. If that's what you expected when clicking on this link, sorry pal but you've come to the wrong place.

Instead, I'd like to discuss some of the "traps" that surround us when eating out.

You put the effort in to exercise on a consistent basis, and have healthy eating habits throughout the week. Don't let eating out at restaurants hinder your progress and prevent you from shedding pounds off of your figure.

Overall, my goal here today is to keep you on track when you choose to eat away from home. This doesn't mean I'm going to tell you to eat a bowl of lettuce every time you go out, don't worry. Some of these suggestions might come as obvious, others may not. Consider all of them next time you're out, and I think it's safe to say your progress will not be stalled.

Order Water or Unsweetened Tea

Boom. Number one is pretty straightforward, but highly effective. We all know that soda is unhealthy for us, no need for me to reiterate on something that's common knowledge. A soda every now and then won't kill you, but when do we ever just stop at one? Before you know it, you're halfway through your entrée and on your third refill of Sprite. This is where we start to have a problem.

My go to whenever I go out is seltzer water. I know that some people don't like the carbonation of it and that's completely fine. If seltzer doesn't do it for you, I also suggest water with a lemon/lime or tea as long as it's not sweetened. You'd be surprised how many grams of sugar can be packed into some of these teas that are branded as healthy.

Ditch the Bread Basket

It's tradition at Italian restaurants for a heaping pile of bread to be sitting in the middle of the table once you're seated. It's very easy for you to reach for that basket constantly while conversing with those around you. Without realizing, you've already devoured enough bread to feed a flock of pigeons and you haven't even ordered appetizers yet. I can speak on this front because I've been guilty of it numerous times in the past.

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I suggest you kindly ask the server to remove it from the table altogether. Out of sight, out of mind. However, if those that accompany you choose to eat it, muster up the willpower to resist your temptations. I have faith in you.

Replace the High Calorie Dressings with Oil and Vinaigrettes

When ordering, it's not uncommon for your main course to be supplemented with a side salad. When asked what type of dressing you would like, please stray away from options like ranch, honey dijon, and creamy caesar. While they might taste delicious, they're loaded with additives and bring little to no nutrition value to the table whatsoever.

My go-to is a slight drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top of my salads. In some cases, I'll just eat it dry as well. Yes, I'm well aware that it's bland and boring. Keep in mind that because these alternatives contain high concentrations of fat (oil is fat), they will be calorie-dense and should be used in moderation.

If need be, continue to use your favorite dressing but slowly try to taper away. Cold turkey with food is definitely not the answer, but neither is dumping half a bottle of thousand island dressing on you greens and deeming it healthy because there's lettuce in the bowl.

Converse More Between Bites

Leptin, considered the "satiety hormone", is the sensor that tells us enough is enough. When we eat too quickly, leptin isn't signaled fast enough to tell us that we've consumed more than enough. While this is great for people looking to gain weight and consume as many calories as possible, this is a curse for the typical fat-loss client. Leptin doesn't signal to the brain quick enough that you've eaten more than enough, leading to excessive eating habits.

As you eat, I highly suggest you spark up more conversation in-between bites. This will slow your rate of consumption down, allowing leptin to do it's job properly. Don't talk with your mouth full though, especially if you're on a hot date. Have some manners, you animal.

In all seriousness, slow it down and enjoy your food. Whether you decide to chew more, talk more, or both, these strategies will suppress hunger when done slow enough. Plus, you might have leftovers to take home for lunch tomorrow. Win-win as long as it isn't half a rack of baby back ribs three nights per week!

Enjoy Yourself

Last but not least, you can choose to omit everything I just stated.

No, I'm not losing my mind. If you choose to treat yourself every once in awhile, by all means go all out. Ordering a burger? Throw that applewood bacon on top of it. Fries on the side? You better believe it. You've worked hard and maintained a disciplined diet, you earned it.

Notice the italics. Every once in awhile, this is okay.

However, if you're someone that dines out numerous times weekly, it's critical to your success that we keep your selections in check. If you eat a clean breakfast, a healthy lunch packed at home, but have all-you-can-eat wings for dinner, you're only shooting 66%. If you do this several times weekly, it's no wonder why you're struggling to lose weight.

Discipline is key to your desired physique. You could be doing everything right, but set yourself back simply by one or two of the actions stated above. If we can work to make these healthy substitutions stick, you've beaten the system. Congrats. Keep pushing forward towards achieving the goals you've set, whether physique- or health-related.