Try these helpful tips for dining out.

Many people look forward to dining out because it’s an opportunity to enjoy their favorite foods, whether it’s a basket of french fries, a creamy pasta dish or cheesecake for dessert. You should enjoy them occasionally. If you dine out frequently, it’s important to learn how to make healthier choices a regular part of your restaurant experience.

Here are some tips to help you eat out more healthfully and limit calories while enjoying your favorite foods:

  • Eat only half of your favorite food and save the other half for the next day. That way, you consume only half the calories and get to enjoy the food more than just once. Plus, you get more for your money by turning one meal into two.
  • Share a dish with your dining companion (you’ll save money that way too!
  • Limit foods that add extra calories, such as appetizers, bread, side dishes or high-calorie beverages. These can be sources of unwanted fat, salt and sugar.
  • Look for ways to make your favorite foods healthier. For example, if your favorite dish comes with a rich sauce, you might ask for the sauce on the side. That way, you can control how much of it you eat.
  • If you know that you’ll be eating out and consuming extra calories, increase your exercise for that day.

Challenge yourself to find new healthy favorites. A perfectly cooked fish and vegetables prepared by a skilled chef can be a real treat. Try to focus on enjoying the full experience, not just the food, the atmosphere, the social scene and the pleasure of being waited on. Over time, you may find that your favorite foods aren’t the real draw of dining out, and you can enjoy yourself while sticking to your healthy eating plan.

What creates a successful weight loss plan?

  1. Keep food records — write down everything you eat.
    Record keeping lets you know exactly what and how much you’re eating. It also allows you to identify problem patterns in your eating behavior. People who keep food records are more successful at weight loss.
  2. Keep activity records — type of activity, duration and intensity.
    Track the variety of activities and exercises that make up your day. Keeping a daily activity record for at least two weeks helps you to be accountable and should help you establish a regular exercise routine. Seeing your progress can build confidence and inspire you to set higher goals.
  3. Move more — walk or exercise for 60 minutes or more every day.
    Increase your walking or exercise to 60 minutes or more every day. This doesn’t have to be 60 minutes in addition to the 30 minutes or more recommended as part of Add 5 Habits. It’s 60 minutes or more total. Of course, the more the better, within reason.
  4. Eat “real food” — mostly fresh, and healthy foods.
    Food is processed to make it safe, available and convenient to use, but the processing may add unwanted fat, sugar, calories and salt. “Real food” is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. Fast food is often filled with empty calories. Not everything that’s processed is bad — but it’s up to you to make the healthiest choices. “Real food” is often grown more locally and doesn’t have as much packaging.
  5. Write down your daily goals — what motivates you each and every day.
    Your overall weight goal can often be met through a series of smaller performance goals that build on one another. Goal setting keeps you motivated and helps you stick with your program.