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How to Eat Out and Beat Your Sugar Addiction

Mindfulness and planning are very important to prevent the act of eating out from turning into a sugary, nutritional disaster. Restaurants serve up enticing appetizer and entree concoctions topped with sauces loaded with fat and sugar, and they deliver portions large enough for a whole family. Then they tease you with a delightful dessert menu that would drive any pastry lover mad with envy.

If you place your orders impulsively, based solely on what sounds good or looks good, you’ll derail your sugar-busting food plan before you know what happened. The key to long-term dietary success is making sure you’re always in control.

Beat sugar addiction with the right portion sizes

When eating out at a restaurant, it’s safe to assume that you’re getting two or three servings on your plate. Here are three tips to keep from overeating at restaurants:

  • Pay attention to how much you eat, how fast you eat, and whether you really need any more food in your stomach.

  • Eat vegetables first, then protein. After that, decide whether you really want (or need) any of the extra starch (rice, pasta, bread, and so on) on your plate.

  • When you place your order, ask the server to bring a takeout container with your meal. When it arrives, put half of what’s on the plate into your takeout container before you even start eating. You’ll never miss the other half, and you can enjoy it the next day.

Allocate alcohol and dessert to reduce sugar intake

If you don’t eat out very often, it’s okay to make the experience special. Don’t put yourself in food jail on your birthday or anniversary — go ahead and indulge in something that you ordinarily wouldn’t eat. Just don’t go so far overboard that you later wish you hadn’t done it.

When you eat out for a special occasion, have one drink and choose between an appetizer and half a dessert. And for the record, you’re not required to eat all of whatever you choose!

If you eat out several times per week, the restaurant experience is no longer special; it’s just a method of feeding yourself. Treat your day-to-day restaurant meals just like you would any other — minding your sugar content, portions, protein/carb ratios, and other standard nutrition variables that you’ve now learned to pay attention to. Don’t get dazzled by the location — what you eat is much more important than where you eat.

Stay mindful to beat your sugar addiction

When you’re eating out at a restaurant or at a party, chances are that everyone’s focus is on the conversation instead of the food, so be careful not to use external cues (like an empty plate) as the only signals for when you’ve had enough to eat. Frequently turn your attention inward and pay attention to what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Ask yourself questions like

  • Am I eating too fast or not chewing thoroughly?

  • Do I really need more food or could I stop eating right now?

  • How does my stomach feel?

  • How much have I had to drink?

  • When is the last time I really tasted what I’m eating?

When looking over the menu, be sure that all the basic nutrition bases are covered in your decisions: Double-check that you have vegetables and protein on your plate, that your choice is low-sugar, and that your portions are reasonable. Smart decisions when ordering make it easier to temper your behavior while eating.

Choose best bet basics to avoid sugar

If you’re worried about sugar content, calories, or other dietary considerations when eating out, you can’t go wrong with vegetables and lean protein. Endless varieties of delicious meals are available that are heavy on veggies and protein and low on sugar, starches, and sauces. When in doubt, your best bet basics are meals with a protein source and a pile of vegetables without too much stuff on them.

Often, a salad of organic mixed greens topped with salmon, shrimp, or meat tossed in the house’s specialty vinaigrette can be one of the most delightful dishes on the menu, not to mention a healthy alternative to some of the many calorie-and-sugar-laden entrees available.

If you’re not sure how something on the menu is prepared, don’t be afraid to ask. Most kitchens are happy to make you a version of a dish without the sauce or to come up with a sugar-free alternative. Sometimes it’s a nice change for the cook to be able to use some creativity and make something different from the usual.

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