- I just realized you had asked a question regarding eating out. I am SO sorry I missed that! I have become the queen of eating out as I am ALWAYS busy!!! I work part time in a non-profit in the mornings, play with my kid in the afternoons, take her to numerous classes in the evenings, and bake cakes on the weekend in a little bakery that a friend and I co-operate. I more often than not, find myself stuck in the rut of being forced to eat out or not eat at all.
There are a few tricks to be had:
1) If possible, visit the establishment's website and print out a listing of their menu items with the nutritional values. Most large chains offer this. It does take some time, but go through EVERYTHING and highlight the items that fit into the plan per calories, fat, carbs, and protein. Then, in a little handy dandy note book (or smartphone if you have one) notate what is diet appropriate at each place, that way, no matter where you go, you always know what is "safe".
2) Do NOT assume salads are the healthiest choice! Many times, the salads are loaded up with bacon, cheese, crutons, meats (some fried), and who knows what else, depending on the place. Some salads, such as Chik-fili-A's grilled chicken salad aren't so bad. But others, such as McDonald's Asian, salad are. Learn which ones are safe and which ones are not. It is important to note that sometimes the salads are made to look like the healthy option but are really one of the worst things on the menu. And ALWAYS order your salad dressing on the side. Dip your fork in it for each bite prior spearing your salad. You consume way less calories/fat/carbs that way. Or, order vinegar and oil. Or..make your own and bring it in a baggie (Joseph's Sugar Free Maple and plain yellow mustard make a really yummy honey mustard.) Or...order the Bariwise dressing for on the go (they are actually really good.) OR....this one is a BIG or....get yourself some Walden Farms 0/0/0 dressings. I am NOT a big WF fan, so I have no idea what might taste good. So far, I haven't found one I like. But there are crazy amounts of people who say it tastes good...so maybe I just haven't found it yet. I dunno.
3) Custom order. Almost every resturant offers custom orders, they just don't advertize it. Exceptions to this rule are BBQ joints and buffets. They pre-make everything and keep in in warmers, so no custom ordering to be had there generally. But you can ask the server to advise the cook no butter, plain chicken oppossed to bourbon chicken (marinades are HIGH in fat/calories/carbs), ask for brocolli or steamed veggies instead of fries (most offer this but don't tell you on the menu), ask for no sugar added to side dishes (yep, most do this), and so on. If they give you any lip, simply state "I have special dietary requirements." That can mean anything from diabeties, to lactose intolerance, to allergies, to you name it. I have a background in resturants...I will NEVER ask a server to do something that I myself haven't done in the past...and they usually get a bigger tip from me for just doing it. The truth is, most aren't bothered by it. A few are, but ultimately, they really don't care, especailly if their tip is on the line.
4)NEVER, EVER, EVER order fried anything. But let's say you want a hamburger (and let's say you can with your diet, as long as you don't eat the bun) and you want ketchup. Ever looked at the values on that? Stuff is insane! But good news! Heintz makes sugar free ketchup, a little pricey, but the taste is identical to that of regular. And the bottle is small. Slip it in your purse for those days you need that.
5) Keep a couple of packets on you at all times, especailly the soups. While not great, they are awesome in a pinch.
6) Fish is not always the healthier option...sometimes the steak is.
7) If you have a problem with ordering appetizers and desserts, vow to ONLY bring enough CASH money (no cards or other method of payment) with you to cover your entree, drink, and tip. You'll find after just a few visits like this, you aren't even tempted to buy those extras anymore.
8) When you place your order, insist that the server immediately bring you a to-go box. Once your food arrives, before taking even one bite, put half the food in the box. Out of site, out of mind. You'll eat 1/2 the calories that way. Order the lunch portion if possible.
9)Don't sweat the small things. If you slip, you slip. You are human. Tomorrow is another day and another chance to make it right.
It took me a good 4 months to figure it out, and a lot of OPPS moments. Now, it is second nature. I no longer am there for the food. I am there because I need to eat and want to socialize and save time...the food just happens to be there when I am (heck, sometimes I just drink my hot tea and don't order anything else when everyone else is eating!) Once my mind changed to think along those terms, I realized my food addiction has been overcome. It was a major accomplishment for me
I may, in the near future, create a "cheat sheet" of resturants and what is "safe" food and post it out here. I need to find the time for it, as I am sure the list is much larger than my handy dandy sheet, but I may just do that. There's a book out there "Eat This, Not That" that more or less does the same...but it is too wordy for a quick "what can I have today" moment.
Good luck...I have faith in you!