2011-03-31 / Features

How To Avoid Gaining Weight When Eating Out

No matter if you are grabbing a snack from the convenience store, attending a family party or dining out, we all eat away from home. But your favorite restaurant meals or fast foods can be hazardous to your waistline if you’re not careful.

“We are the most overfed and under-nourished population in the world. So obviously, we have to make smarter choices if we want to lose weight and be healthy,” says Jane Percy, author of the new book, “Lighten Up! Win at Losing.”

Not eating out isn’t possible these days, especially if you don’t want to stop seeing friends or sharing meals with family. But by making smart choices and sticking to healthy habits, it’s possible to enjoy the company of loved ones without gaining weight. Percy offers several tips to help you eat out and stay on the health track:

Plan it out

Before attending a party or big dinner, eat wisely in the days preceding it. That day, plan breakfast and lunch so that you don’t consume too many calories.

Don’t start a party hungry, as you’re likely to overeat. Have a small snack beforehand, such as fruit, nuts and raw vegetables. And drink a glass of water upon arriving, to keep you feeling fuller.

Most of all, don’t feel like you have to finish everything on your plate. Taking home leftovers will flatter the cook and save you from overeating.

Make smart choices

When eating out, don’t be afraid to exercise your right to choose. A few smart substitutions can help create a healthy meal at almost any restaurant. Or ask your waiter if the restaurant serves half portions.

“Most restaurant owners and waiters really do want customers to have the meal they need and desire, so it’s your absolute right to ask for menu adaptations,” says Percy.

Try to choose restaurants that prepare fresh fish really well. If you add a salad and vegetables and forego starchy potatoes, you can create a healthy meal while enjoying the company of friends and family.

Step it up

If you’ve got a big meal or vacation planned, don’t forget to exercise! In fact, add a little extra activity if you can, such as walking, to burn off extra calories.

Other metabolism-increasing activities are also great for overall weight loss, like eating breakfast every morning. Green tea has also been shown to heat up your metabolism and, given its caffeine content, is a good substitute for coffee.

Lastly, things like proper breathing or self-hypnosis can help. Stress hormones like cortisol have been shown to increase belly fat, but slow deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. And relaxation through self-hypnosis can help reduce stress levels, as well.

More tips on healthy living are available in “Lighten Up!” and online at www.RiverLightCenter.com.

“Remember, food is fuel,” says Percy. “The right choices will give you energy to follow your dreams and live life to the fullest.”

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