Eating out on a diet

Dieting isn't easy and it can be even tougher to watch the weight when you're eating out. But there's no need to shut yourself away with a celery stick - just follow these simple tips for dining out on a diet and you can stick to your weight loss plan without fear of ruining all your hard work.

eating out on a diet

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Banish the buffet
Buffets might seem like a good idea - after all, it enables you to tuck into a healthy salad, right? Wrong - the temptation to go back for seconds and pile your plate high may be more than you can manage so avoid an all-you-can-eat disaster and stay away!

Take care with carbs
Even if you're not following the Atkins diet, it's all too easy to tuck into the fresh bread (with butter, of course!) while you're waiting for your healthy lunch. If you must eat bread, eat it without butter. A slice of bread can contain 70-100 calories. Add a thin spreading of butter and you will add 50 calories, a thick spreading will add an extra 100, while lashings of butter can add 150-200 calories.

Dress down
Salad isn't always the healthy option - dressings and sauces can quickly bump up the calorie count. If the thought of lettuce leaves and celery sticks without the tasty add-ons leave you cold, forget the salad and opt for a healthy cooked meal instead.

A problem shared
There is no harm in spoiling yourself once in a while - there's a good reason they say 'everything in moderation'. But if you the restaurant's dessert portions look made for two, then why not share with your date or friend. A cheesecake shared is a calorie count halved!

Special requests
Remember - you're the customer. And that means you can have your meal cooked as you would like it. If you'd prefer your vegetables steams than smothered in butter, say so. Similarly ask for dressings and sauces to be served on the side so that you can choose how much or how little to add. Most eateries will also be happy to wrap up your leftovers so don't feel you have to eat a monster portion. The restaurant is there to serve you, so don't be afraid to ask!

Portion control
If you are worried about the size of restaurant portions, you have two options - either skip the appetiser and enjoy the full main meal or, if you're feeling strong-willed, order your main meal from the starter menu... they are often healthier-sized meals anyway!

Mind the drinks
Alcoholic beverages and sugary juices contain hidden calories - opt for water and you'll immediately cut your calorie count, allowing you to fully enjoy your meal.

Look for calorie info
Some restaurants, such as Pizza Express (and now even McDonalds) print how many calories are in each of their dishes, allowing you to choose a healthier option. Pizza Express also offer a range of lighter pizzas called Leggera, which contains around 500 calories and less than 5g saturated fat each, as well as lighter options for starters, desserts and even wine.

Take your time
Even when your belly is full, it takes a little time for your brain to get the message so take your time. After all, the chances are you're out with loved ones or friends so why not make it a long lunch?