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Are you on a diet? Do you constantly dread the thought of going out to dinner because it means yet another “skip day?” Fear no more! This year,2016, is going to be the year that you learn how to enjoy eating out and sticking to your diet. Say goodbye to asking the kitchen if they can take a brilliant chicken dish and pair it down to one simple slice of chicken, sans seasoning. Say hello to enjoying a meal without steering too far away from your diet. It’s time to take control and regain your social life during a diet.

10 Tips To Eating Out, Sticking To Your Diet, And Enjoying Your Meal
All too often people will say that eating out while on a diet can only be enjoyed if you “order salad and dressing on the side.” While salad is a healthy choice, no one enjoys a salad when the rest of the table is enjoying a juicy steak with a side of fries, a beer, and room for dessert! Instead, the following tips will help you to order a balanced meal, all while still sticking to your weight loss goals and diet restrictions.

Treat eating out as you would eating in. –If you’re on a diet, then you will have carefully planned out every meal and snack for the week. When the unexpected call comes for a night on the town with your friends, don’t panic. Simply think about what you were going to have for dinner that night, had you chosen to stay in. For example, if your meal plan called for salmon, then plan on ordering a fish for dinner. If you needed to catch up on some veggies, then be sure to change the side of French fries for fresh veggies. Don’t feel as if you need to finish everything on your plate. Instead, eat only as much as you would if you were dining in the comfort of your home.

Choose the grilled option over fried food. — When in doubt choose to have an entree that is off the grill. Grilled food tends to be healthier than fried food. It also eliminates the need for high-calorie sauces. If your grilled entree does include a sauce, ask if the chef can place the sauce on the side. When you have the sauce on the side you are more likely to only eat part of it, rather than dousing your once healthy grilled meal with “wasted calories.”

Don’t be afraid to order an appetizer as a main course. — Just because you are on a diet, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a good meal. Appetizers tend to be smaller portions, which means that they are a great substitute for a full-sized entree. When choosing an appetizer try to find one that has more than one food group. For example, a quiche, meat and cheese platter, or soup are all good, healthy choices that can allow you to enjoy your meal without straying too far from your diet.

Embrace salads, just don’t pick a “boring” option. — Salads can and should be ordered at certain restaurants. Steer clear from your generic Caesar salad, and instead choose something that is healthier and more interesting. Try a quinoa based salad or add a protein, such as fish, steak, chicken, or shrimp, to your chosen salad. Remember that nuts, and even fruit can be added to a salad to give it more pizzazz.

Avoid the bread basket. — Unless the bread basket is filled with whole-wheat baguettes or whole-grain breads, try to avoid eating too much (or any) bread. When you are in the middle of a conversation it is all too easy to snack on bread. Before you know it you will have consumed two or three pieces of bread. Instead, break a piece of bread in half and take small bites to keep your fingers busy and your brain occupied.

Try splitting a meal. — If you see an entree that you are just dying to try, then don’t feel like your diet will force you to miss out. Instead split the meal with a friend or ask your waiter for an appetizer sized portion. These two simple tricks allow you to enjoy your dinner without feeling like you are completely missing out on all that the restaurant has to offer.

Ask the waiter if they have any recommendations. — Generally speaking, waiters should know the menu inside and out; chances are you are not the first person to enter the restaurant while in the middle of a diet. Ask the waiter if there are any special dishes that are low calorie, while still being delicious. If the waiter doesn’t have an appealing suggestion, then ask if he or she can speak with the chef. Remember that you are there to enjoy a meal out, and the restaurant is there to provide you with a good dining experience. Don’t be afraid to stick to your diet and ask the right questions.

Encourage your friends to go to tapas restaurants. — One of the best parts of a tapas restaurant is that the portions are small. When you are on a diet, a tapas restaurant allows you to limit your food intake, while still making it easy for you to try different foods and enjoy the entire dining experience.

Enjoy water not soda. — Staying hydrated throughout the day is one of the keys to dieting success. While it might be tempting to order a glass of wine, beer, soda, or a cocktail, for the sake of your diet it is probably best if you simply stick to water. If you are tired of drinking still water, than switch to sparkling for the evening. And if you are really feeling “adventurous” add a slice of lime or lemon for good measure.

Order dessert, in moderation. — The lava cake or giant sundae might seem like the perfect dessert; however, the latter two options are obviously not great when you are on a diet. Look for desserts that are still considered healthy. For example, a fresh fruit with a small side of whipped cream, or sorbet instead of ice cream are two fantastic dessert options.

Well, there you have it, 10 easy-to-implement tips that will have you enjoying your time dining out, while still sticking to your diet. Whether you find yourself eating out once a week or every other day, you can, and should be able to stick to your diet while enjoying the company of your friends and the entire dining out experience.