Austin Personal Trainer Ross' Blog

A Precision Health & Fitness blog

Preventing Overeating: Weight Loss Strategies to use when Eating Out

Posted by Ross Harrison, CSCS, NSCA-CPT on September 1, 2010

     Overeating can make it almost impossible to lose weight, because any time you consume more calories than you burn, your body is forced to store fat. Therefore, if you want to lose weight and fat, it is important to minimize overeating. This article explains three tips you can use to prevent yourself from consuming too many calories when eating out.

     The first tip is simply to keep yourself from cleaning your plate. You may have been told many times as a child that you are not finished until your plate is clean, but this is a very bad idea when eating out. You have probably noticed that portion sizes at restaurants have greatly increased in size over the years. Many meals now contain enough calories for at least 2 or 3 meals and that’s just in the entrée.

     Before you begin your meal, decide how much of the food you will eat during that meal and stop when you get to that point. Then the leftovers can serve as another meal or two that you can have later. However, if the meal is unhealthy, the best thing to do is leave the unfinished portion behind.

     A related tip is to be careful about ordering appetizers or desserts. In some cases, an appetizers or dessert has enough calories to count as an entire meal by itself, even if you share it with multiple people. Eating an appetizer, entrée, and dessert when dining out will quickly pack on unwanted pounds, even if you are eating healthy foods.

     The best thing to do is pick one item and only have that, or part of it, as your entire meal. If you are out with a couple friends and want and appetizer, entrée, and dessert, you can have one person order an appetizer, one person order a dessert, one person order an entrée and then split everything. Of course, this only works if everyone wants the same thing and is willing to share.

     The last tip is something many people use very effectively, but other people do not even know is an option, which is to make special requests with your food orders. Most restaurants realize that more people are trying to eat healthy and they will do their best to accommodate any reasonable request.

     For example, if a meal comes with a fatty sauce, you can ask to replace it with a lighter sauce or even skip the sauce altogether. You can also ask for specific unhealthy ingredients, such as cheese, to be left out of the meal. For instance, there are even people who order pizza without cheese and it is usually not a problem.

     Other options are to ask for a half serving or, if the restaurant allows it, you can split an order with a friend. Just let your server know and he or she should bring your order with an extra plate for the second person. This strategy has the added benefit of requiring less willpower than making yourself stop eating when you still have food on your plate and it saves money as well.

     By using these three simple tips, you can significantly decrease the number of calories you consume while eating out and prevent yourself from gaining unwanted weight. If you are really good with your food choices, you may even lose weight, although this is very difficult if you frequently eat at restaurants that serve foods with a lot of fat and calories.

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