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On a diet plan? You can still dine out, here's how

Last updated on: January 17, 2011 12:10 IST

Eating out while on a diet plan



There's no reason why your diet needs to go up in smoke each time you visit a restaurant -- all it takes is a little smarts to stick to your regime!

Most people think that dieting is like a prison sentence. You can't eat what you want and dining out is not an option because of all the temptation. Well, they're wrong. You definitely can still dine out while you're on a diet. And without cheating too! Lunch, dinner, whichever meal of the day it is, it's all about making smart choices. That's the secret!

Don't even start thinking that you can binge on not-so-good-for-you foods just because you're dining out. If you truly, seriously and genuinely want to lose weight and keep it off, make sure to stick to your healthy eating habits and make smart choices when you're out at restaurants.

You don't have to avoid going out for food at all. Instead, enjoy restaurants while you're working towards dropping the excess pounds. In the following pages, we outline some rules that will help you to stick to your weight loss programme while dining out.

Image: You definitely can still dine out while you're on a diet
Photographs: Courtesy

Lunch invitations

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Lunch invitations are great -- early afternoon is the best time to eat without damaging the diet or affecting your metabolism:
  • Rule 1: Choose foods from the menu which you truly enjoy and avoid filling your plate with unnecessary side helpings.
  • Rule 2: Eat slowly and enjoy the food flavour, texture and taste.
  • Rule 3: Avoid food that looks unhealthy like maida (white flour) products (like naan and white bread), deep fried foods and very oily vegetables.

Image: Avoid filling your plate with unnecessary side helpings
Photographs: Alisdair McDiarmid/Wikimedia Commons
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Dinner at restaurants

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Dinner plans? Here's what will keep you in the safe zone:

  • Rule 1: Begin with a clear soup, with vegetables or a combination of chicken and vegetables. Ask the chef to saute some vegetables like some exotic Chinese greens, flavoured with herbs and spices, in olive oil and accompany this with a salad. You can also have a combination of chicken with marinated vegetables. Vegetarians can ask for cottage cheese in small quantities, with marinated greens and a tangy dressing.
  • Rule 2: Avoid cereals/pulses late night.
  • Rule 3: Eat slowly, enjoying the flavour, as this prevents overeating.
  • Rule 4: Do not wistfully eye other foods on the table, as that will invoke sympathy towards you and even family will feel compelled to offer you heavy foods.
  • Rule 5: Enjoy the ambience, conversation and the moments with the family/friends instead of feeling sorry for yourself!

Image: Begin dinner with a clear soup containing vegetables
Photographs: Paulnasca/Wikimedia Commons
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Late night social occasions

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An impromptu gathering at a coffee-shop or late dining at a party can sometimes throw your diet plan off-course. But don't allow that:

  • Rule 1: Only tell your close friends/well-wishers that you are on a diet while dining out, or it becomes an ego tussle -- the host will insist on serving you every conceivable item on the menu till you finally give up!
  • Rule 2: Eat a snack at 6 pm before you leave, because no dinner is served till 11 pm at parties and by that time most people are starving to death. As a result, they end up eating large quantities.
  • Rule 3: Choose vegetables. Combine them with some raita (not sweet) and salad. Non-vegetarians, choose grilled chicken with some sauteed Chinese vegetables and salad.
  • Rule 4: Do not drink soups made for huge gatherings like weddings, as they contain corn-flour which is no good for weightloss.

Image: Sauteed Chinese vegetables are usually a good choice
Photographs: Indradi Soemardjan, Commons
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Some healthy foods you can try

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These foods will keep you on track with your diet when eating out:

  • Natural atta roti/tava roti (chapati)
  • Vegetables sauteed in olive oil
  • Clear soups
  • Salads with an olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • Whole wheat pasta on a tomato base, with light cheese
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Grilled chicken, grilled or fried fish
  • Natural brown rice
  • Cottage cheese
  • Bean salads
  • All dals (pulses), with the exception of Dal Makhani

The list is endless and open to creative additions.

Many restaurants have menu items that are 'heart healthy'. Ask for calorie and fat information on menu items. If you ask, chefs will often to make you a custom dish.

Eating out can be one of life's great pleasures. Make the right choices, ask for what you need and balance your meals out with healthy eating at home. You can enjoy yourself and take good care of your health at the same time. You just need to remember and implement these tips when you go out. Keep yourself happy and social while you lose weight and you'll be a happier and healthier person!

Image: Whole wheat pasta will keep you on track with your diet when eating out
Photographs: Ragesoss/Wikimedia Commons
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LifeMojo is a wellness company, helping people to live a healthier life. LifeMojo provides online and on phone nutrition consultation services to help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.