Weight Loss Support - Eating Out Challenges

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05-07-2012, 11:27 AM
So I knew that yesterday was going to be a very busy challenging day.
I had to work in the morning and then as soon as I was done work we had to drive to the big city for my son's choir concert. I started out good with breakfast, and then had a very quick healthy (but quite low calorie) lunch before we left.

We dropped my son off and then had a bit of time to shop before going for supper. My husband picked a restaurant that looked like it should have had good choices for all (daughter is vegetarian, husband diabetic and I'm counting calories).

So there was a spinach salad with roasted chicken breast with a low fat raspberry vinaigrette dressing that looked good so that's what I chose. Well it was the saddest salad you ever saw. There may have been a few pieces of spinach in it but mostly was iceberg lettuce. There was a little bit of grated carrot but that was it for veggies. Very small piece of chicken.

Well by the time the concert was over it was 10:00 p.m. and I probably had less than 800 calories for the day and I was starving and starting to get a little shaky. My son was hungry and he wanted burger and fries so we sent to A&W - nothing there I could have especially that late at night.

Then it was 11:00 p.m. when we got home. I had a protein shake before bed.

Anyway this is a long rambling way to ask what kinds of foods you eat when you go out? Thinking back I should have brought some food with me knowing that we would be eating out and not knowing what kinds of food would be available.

05-07-2012, 11:57 AM
Eating out is a big danger for me personally. I only allow myself to eat at Subway normally, as it's pretty ubiquitous. I do know that Applebee's (I think) has a low-calorie menu, which I've gotten before, and it's a nice dinner usually.

Most restaurants should have vegetables if nothing else. Couldn't you just order several helpings of veges instead of the seafood pasta in cheese sauce or whatever?

This happens to me every time I go to Disney World. The only places to eat at are fattening, usually. So I bring a backpack with sandwiches and such. Just find the most low-fat, low-cal items you can find on the menu. If it's only one or two meals, it's not going to sink you, especially if it's an occasional situation.

05-07-2012, 12:03 PM
When I go out to eat, I usually get the simplest salad - no dressing (or on the side, which I don't touch so it looks less sad), no cheese, maybe some chicken if its grilled. I just nibble a bit. I just kind of sit there with my cravings and when I get home, I race to make a full meal. I just remind myself that I am not actually ravenous - I had food that day and my body is just used to regular mealtimes and waiting a few more hours is fine.
Good thing is that this does not usually occur - I can usually make time to have a sit down dinner after work, so maybe I would have a different approach if I had to eat out regularly.
EDIT-I do try to go for a typical salad, at the local Chinese place my coworkers often order out in they steam the veg but add oil BLEH. I might as for them to add no oil, but honestly, the stares I already get for getting a veggie plate are awkward enough. I generally just do what I do anyways, but still.

05-07-2012, 12:12 PM
There are very few places I've been that don't offer some grilled chicken thing including fast food.

The places we go to that don't offer it (usually Italian or Mexican) I just order something reasonable that I like and get right back on plan next day. By reasonable I mean something like marinara vs alfredo sauce.


05-07-2012, 12:27 PM
If I know I'm going out, I'll plan the rest of my day around it, even if that means only having something miniscule for breakfast and lunch.

If I'm sprung with a choice, I'll just try to order something that sounds acceptably healthy and try not to eat all of it.

05-07-2012, 12:28 PM
I would have complained if the 'spinach salad' was mostly iceberg. Sad people, lol.

And I generally pick things that are mostly veggies and a lean protein. :D

05-07-2012, 12:39 PM
I would have complained if the 'spinach salad' was mostly iceberg. Sad people, lol.

And I generally pick things that are mostly veggies and a lean protein. :D

Me too - I would have sent it back.

I am lucky to live in an area where there are tons of restaurants and enough health conscious people that there are great choices everywhere.

I visited a friend in another state and ordered a veggie sandwich at a sandwich shack. I ended up with a "condiment sandwich" with a white pita, mayo, processed cheese square, shredded iceberg, and some sad slices of tomato. I threw it away!

ETA: I have no shame in ordering something that isn't on the menu. You can always request that food be made with different seasonings, grilled or broiled instead of fried, ask for your starch to be swapped with veggies, etc. It doesn't hurt to ask.

05-07-2012, 12:39 PM
There are very few places I've been that don't offer some grilled chicken thing including fast food.

The places we go to that don't offer it (usually Italian or Mexican) I just order something reasonable that I like and get right back on plan next day. By reasonable I mean something like marinara vs alfredo sauce.


I agree with you. I stick with grilled chicken when going out to eat most of the time, and no dressing on my salad either. But hey sometimes there's no "healthy" option so I go for the less fatty one of the bunch. lol

05-07-2012, 12:55 PM
I'm lucky to live in a state where restaurants are required to make caloric information available to customers - handy because I count calories.

My advice is to look at the menu in advance if you can (try looking online) and make your choice early in the day. That way you can plan your other eating for the day in accordance, and it is usually easier to pick a healthy choice when you are in a good mindset and away from the aromas of the restaurant environment. Then just make yourself stick to it.

If you can't figure it out in advance, then go in with some restriction in your head, like "I won't get anything with pasta in it" or "I will get some kind of reasonably-healthy-looking salad" or "I will eat at most half of the ridiculous portion I will probably be given". Even a little planning can help keep your head in the right place when it comes time to order, and when it comes time to stop eating.

Madame Souza
05-07-2012, 03:38 PM
I always keep some fruit in the car in case I need it. Sometimes, you can only find a sad salad for a meal and an apple or orange could be a snack when that wears off.

05-07-2012, 04:00 PM
I have go-to meals at different restaurants, usually grilled meat and veggies is always safe. Otherwise if I'm hankering for something like burgers and fries I'll just eat half the burger and half the fries.

Calorie info is required where I live, but even the info displayed in the menu can be deceptive, so I look it up online (for example, the sides may not be included in the count on the menu!)

I just went to a buffet yesterday and stuck to seafood (steamed only), meat (grilled), soup and fruit.

05-07-2012, 04:10 PM
The biggest help to me when I'm eating on the go is to order something reasonable - not usually a salad, but a turkey/fish/grilled chicken dish with sauces on the side and vegetables steamed if possible w/o oil and salt, then I take that gargantuan portion I get from the normal order, and I cut it in half. I take the rest home if I'll be heading there soon after.

05-07-2012, 04:18 PM
My favorite places to go are those with "build your own" menus.

Subway - I can make a salad instead of a sub and add tons of veggies.

Flat Top Grill - I skip the noodles and rice and load up on veggies and beans and a few scoops of sauces and tofu

Most other restaurants have salad bars. I skip anything with mayo (pasta salad, broccoli salad) and instead load up on the raw veggies. If they have fresh fruit, I add that for my "dressing". And seconds (or thirds) are free.

If there is no salad bar, I look at the available sides and usually pick 3-4 and make a meal of that. (Steamed veggies, etc).

When I go out, I avoid anything heavily laden with sauces, mayo, cheese, and breading. If I can't control what is in it, I don't eat it.

05-07-2012, 05:51 PM
If it's just DH and I, we usually head straight to Subway if there's one around. If I'm at a business lunch, usually a salad, cheese/dressing on the side, and a special order of a chopped grilled chicken breast on top. Or, if I'm in a pinch and absolutely NOTHING on the menu looks good, I'll order the "best" thing I can, and ask them to put half in a to-go box before they even bring my entree to the table.

I also try to carry a package of pistachios and one or two healthy snack bars (Larabars or one of the prepackaged WW-type snacks) around in my purse all the time in case I get that hungry... when i pass a certain point of hunger I start getting breathless and light-headed so it helps me a lot to have calorie-controlled snacks on hand :)

05-07-2012, 08:51 PM
If I'm going for fast food unexpectedly, I usually go for Subway, if possible... or go for a grilled chicken-type sandwich or snack wrap (at a McD's or Burger King) with no cheese or mayo... If possible, I get ketchup in the sachet's on the side, so it's not so dry.

If I'm going out to an unexpected dinner at a proper sit-down restaurant, I go for a grilled meat or fish with steamed vegetables or a plain salad with dressing on the side.

If I know in advance I'm going to be eating out whether fast food or a proper sit-down restaurant, I save my calories for that day (under 400 calories for other meals) so I can splash out a little more. I can also usually look for the restaurant's menu and kind of plan ahead.

05-07-2012, 09:16 PM
Thanks everyone! I did look up the online nutritional information for the restaurant we were at and there seems to be a lot more stuff listed there than was on the menu. The menu had no veggie sides listed at all. The website even has a veggie soup listed - the restaurant we were at only had cream soups. The calorie count for the spinach chicken salad is listed at 170 but I bet it wasn't even that with the amount of iceberg lettuce in it.

Anyway I'll try and be more prepared next time we go out (doesn't happen very often). Education is so important.

05-07-2012, 11:19 PM
If something comes with a side of starch like pasta or mashed potatoes, I ask the server to substitute the starch for a double serving of veggies. I have never been told no or been charged extra for doing so,

05-07-2012, 11:42 PM
It's super important to never hold off when you're hungry, you want to keep your metabolism revving, and staying hungry slows it down. I always pack an apple and a bag of almonds, small, simple snacks that should hold you off.