Knowing what to choose when traveling or eating out can sometimes put a healthy eating plan to the test. Especially when you don't have access to your usual FDN meals and kitchen essentials. In this weeks FDN I'll give you at least 10 easy ways to enjoy the pleasures of dining out whist still eating for success.

                     

1. Size matters!
Eating out is not just about what's on the plate food but more so how much we eat. Size really does matter and when dining out; a number of studies have found that we tend to eat more when served larger portions. In these studies, many people didn't realise they were eating more and did not feel any more satisfied after the larger meal. Often when eating out, we tend to feel the need to eat all that's presented for fear of not getting 'value' for our money.

However, serving sizes in some restaurants can be way out of line with a metabolically precise-looking plate. In fact, in some places and countries the servings can be  ridiculous. To help stay in touch with what I think is an effective serving size is, I use this as a general guide:
  • Protein - (fish, meats or poultry) should be about the size of your palm,
  • High energy carbs - (rice, potato, pastas, breads etc) serving should be about the size of a tennis ball
  • Plant food - all unprocessed plant foods can make up at least half of the plate.
2. Be in control
If serving sizes are larger than anticipated, try one of these strategies to keep from overeating:
Order an appetizer-sized/entree portion or a side dish instead of a main.
Share a main dish with a friend (Paul's favourite!)
Resign from the "clean your plate club" - when you've eaten enough, leave the rest.
Most restaurants are happy to let you take the leftovers home.

3. Watch the alcohol.
We can easy forget how many extra calories alcohol can potential add to our daily intake.  One standard drink usually provides 10 grams of alcohol which is basically 70-100 calories per standard drink. However, ladies don't forget, a restaurant-serve glass of wine can provide up to 2 standard drinks. One bottle of wine will provide at least 8 standard drinks. Guys, one 355ml beer is equal to 2 and a half standard drinks. Just 2 or 3 beers can easily add up. However, its not just the drink it self that can contribute.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool in the UK have recently reported that even just 2 or 3 drinks can have a big impact on appetite and subsequent food consumption. If you're not really careful, you could end up eating 30% more food, just from having a few pre-dinner drinks.

4. Choose zero calorie beverages
Many restaurants serve exquisite tasting sparkling waters and sodas. Ask for a slice of lemon or lime to be added - delish! Even plain old soda water tastes good served ice-cold with a twist of lime. If these are not your thing try unsweetened ice or herbal teas.

5. Experiment with salads
Go for something different, a combination you may not have tried - don't be afraid it's only a salad! Don't forget, some salads have a real caloric punch. For example, if ordering a chef’s special salad, I'll ask the waiter to tell me what’s in the salad. If there’s lots of cheese, or other calorie-laden bombs such as bacon, fried croutons, creamy dressing I just request to leave them out.

6. Dressing and sauces on the side!
Don’t hold back, if something/ or a particular food you don’t like is listed, ask the waiter/ress if it can be left out of the dish. Same with sauces and dressing, stipulate you would like it placed on the side! By doing this you get to taste the chef's wonderful creation whilst remaining in complete control. Most restaurants will serve a tasty vinaigrette, chili sauce and mustards.

7. Watch your sides
When choosing your side dishes, instead of the mash potato or french fries, go sides of vegetables and salads. Good restaurants will cook their veggies superbly and again, don't be afraid to ask how they're cooked. If the chef usually drowns them in oil or butter, tell the staff, no oil, no butter please!

8. Double serving of veggies please!
A high intake of vegetables every day is the secret to dramatic changes in body composition. Vegetables are naturally high in fiber yet low in calorie content. In essence, a high intake of vegetables provide bulk to the diet that tricks the metabolism into staying elevated because of the large volume of food the body has to process. Ask for an extra serve when placing your order.

9. Steam, grilled or broiled
These healthier cooking methods reduces the amount of fat in the meals, minimizes the amount of nutrients destroyed in the food during the cooking process and retains the texture, colour and flavour of vegetables. Flame grilled steak, chicken or fish with steamed veggies always goes down well me!

10. Beware the buffet
Order an item from the menu instead of heading for the "all-you-can-eat" buffet. Buffets are a disaster waiting to happen. When you are presented with so many choices – you know you are vulnerable. One mega pig out in less than 30mins - can destroy all your hard work that
week.
 
                     

But wait - what about your source of omega fats? To overcome this and ensure you can still comply to the MP rules of meal construction when eating out, I never leave home without taking some flax seed oil capsules either wrapped in some aluminum foil or in a small container. I have these in my bag all the time.

Nothing beats home cooked prepared meals I agree, but life is too short – don’t stress if having to eat out or thinking about what to eat when you travel. Simply apply these strategies and you can enjoy eating healthily and tailor meals to still comply with the rules of metabolically precise eating. FYI to complete me evening out I finish with a strong espresso. It tops the nights dining out experience off nicely.

Despite being out of the competition arena for more that 10 years, 2-time INBA Ms Olympia & World Figure Champ  Shar Sault stays in incredible shape. Shar is the author of the MP Cookbible - Over 150 FDN recipes!

For more great nutrition articles & tips by Shar type FDN into the search engine.


Read more about Shar here.