It’s not big news that portions at most restaurants are totally out of control. But for those of us who love to eat, portion control can be one of the biggest challenges of staying slim and healthy. I know it is for me. As a woman with a long history of over-eating, I remember how shocked I was to discover proper portion sizes when I first joined Weight Watchers more than two decades ago.
The truth is that just a little extra fat and calories every day can add up to extra pounds over time.
It’s important to control portions all the time, especially in restaurants, where portions are much more apt to be too large. Just take a look at the size of this cheeseburger – which is at least twice as big as a healthy suggested serving size!
It may take some strategic thinking and planning, but it is possible to eat out in a healthful way.
Here are 8 tips for helping you manage your portions sizes when eating out:
- Seek out more healthful restaurants. It’s much easier to eat healthy in some restaurants than in others. Keep a list of restaurants that offer healthy dishes and are willing to tweak your order to make it less fattening. (Grilling your fish instead of frying it, for example.)
- Get familiar with servings sizes, which is the way the USDA My Plate system defines the amount you should be eating. For example
- , a serving of rice is 1/2 cup, much less than the portion that will show up on most any restaurant plate. A baked potato should be the size of a computer mouse. Meat should be the size of a deck of cards.
- Split your order in half. Ask for a box as soon as your plate arrives and pack away half of your meal to be enjoyed for lunch on another day.
- Share an entree. Share an entree with a friend or your partner. This will save you both calories and dollars. Some restaurants charge a fee to split an entree, but it’s worth it when you are trying to slim down and stay healthy. If you don’t want to share, consider having an appetizer for dinner instead of an entree.
- Skip the appetizers. Your main dish is going to have plenty of calories, unless you’re eating in a very high end restaurant. Don’t make matters worse by loading up on cheese sticks or nachos before your meal arrives. The one exception to this would be beginning your meal with a healthy soup or salad that can help to tame your appetite in a good way.
- Select healthy side dishes. Substitute vegetables or salad for fries. More healthful sides such as vegetables, fruit, cottage cheese or rice are usually available if you ask.
- Eat slowly. People who eat slower are usually satisfied with less. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that it’s full! So remember to chew more to weigh less.
*PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT Weight Watchers Zero Points fruits and vegetables using the WW Recipe Builder.