How to Maintain Your Weight Loss – 8 Easy Tips for Eating Out

by Dr. Donna Goldstein
Adapted from Johnny Bowen

1. Pre-plate your food at the buffet. Research by Brian Wansink, PhD, has found that when people load their plate at a buffet one time only, they eat about 14 percent less food than when they take smaller portions and go back for more. You don’t have to try everything! Take the food that works best for you on your program. Or better yet- avoid buffets all together!

2. Practice “hari hachi bu.” In Okinawa— one of the half-dozen places on the globe where extraordinary numbers of healthy centenarians live—there is a saying: “hari hachi bu.” It means push away from the table when you’re about 80 percent full. Practice hari hachi bu, and leave the table before you’re totally stuffed!

3. Say “No, thank you.”   The white bread or rolls in the bread basket are the worst and least nutritious thing on the table. They are also the worst thing to eat first (think sugar/insulin spike) and the thing we tend to fill up on before the good stuff comes. When the waiter comes with the bread basket, send it back, or put it out of reach.

4. Split dishes . One of the things I frequently do at restaurants is order one dish from each course—soup, appetizer and entrée—and then split it all family style with my dining partner. Alternatively, try ordering some offbeat combinations like two appetizers and a salad, or soup and appetizer. With today’s restaurant portions, a “small” meal like that is more than enough to fill you up.

5. Double up on vegetables. Whenever I order a main course in a restaurant and it automatically comes with a starch, such as potatoes or rice and  a veggie, I ask the waiter to hold the starch and double up on the vegetables- steamed is best, or sautéed in a little olive oil. Or they may be willing to change it for a side salad. Sometimes there is an “upcharge” –it’s worth it to get your veggies in and avoid the starchy carbs!

6. Salad or soup before going out. Research by Barbara Rolls, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania shows that eating a small green salad or a cup of soup before the meal caused people to spontaneously eat significantly less over the course of the meal. Low calorie, broth-based soups are the best for appetite control—think chunky vegetable or minestrone 

7. Bring it home before you start- whenever I do order an entree, the easiest thing to do  is ask for a “to-go” box right there- put half your  meal in it  and have the waiter take it off the table and put away till you go. That ensures you will not overeat or pick away because it is there, and you’ll  have a nice healthy meal the next day too, as most restaurant portions are at least twice the size you need for a “fueling”!

8. Eat out less! When you are cooking you know the quantities and quality of the food you are eating. Restaurants often add  fillers and sweeteners- extra butter and fat, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, salt and more. You save  money when you cook at home and often time, especially when you cook enough for  a few meals. A healthy stew/soup from  your own farmer’s market can be made to taste different each night, with the addition  of different protein sources and  spices.