Posted by:
Heather Hutchins

Heather Hutchins

June 24, 2015

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Eat Smart While You’re Out

It’s been a long day, and it’s not over yet—you’ve got a client dinner at one of the best Italian restaurants in town. Good news for your taste buds, but not so great for your growing waistline. These days business meals are a must for a successful career, but you don’t have to sabotage your healthy eating habits to get ahead. On the other hand, you also don’t want to look like a food freak, peppering your waiter with questions about ingredients and carb content or making too many changes to their existing menu (like asking for the chicken parm without the breading or cheese). These tips will help you watch your weight—without killing your diet or your business deal.

Know what you’re getting into. Before the meal, call the restaurant or look at the menu online. (Stress can make you eat more or give in to your food temptations, and if you’re nervous about the meeting, you’ll be more likely to order the fatty special.) Choose your meal before even setting foot into the restaurant, so you can focus on the task at hand—your potential client.

Keep it simple. Heavy sauces provide great flavor but often also add loads of calories and unhealthy fat. Avoid cream sauces and potatoes that arrive au gratin or mashed. Go for lighter sauces like lemon, white wine, or marinara sauce and choose steamed veggies, sweet potato, or brown rice as a side.

Only eat half of what’s on your plate. Portion control may be the hardest thing to abide when eating out, so remember this tip: A serving size of meat, chicken, or fish should be the size of a deck of cards (3 to 4 ounces). Most restaurants serve at least 6 ounces of protein, so to be safe, only eat half of what they serve you. If you’re tempted to keep shoveling it in, have a few sips of water instead. You can take the remainder home and eat it for lunch the next day. (If you’re dining with a superior, follow their lead on this one. Sometimes asking for a doggie bag makes you look desperate.)

Beware of hidden calories. When you’re watching your weight, it’s easy to think that a salad is your best option. Wrong! Salads containing nuts, cheese, or homemade croutons—not to mention soaked in dressing—are loaded with calories. Unless the salad is full of veggies and topped with balsamic vinegar, stay away.

Bring on the breakfast food. Early-morning meetings are easiest on your diet. Not only is the temptation to down a sugary cocktail (or three) taken out of the equation, but there are loads of protein-rich choices. Fresh fruit and cottage cheese is a great combo because the protein will keep you satiated and the fruit provides antioxidants (think bright fruit colors like berries and grapes), which will keep your energy up all morning. Or opt for a veggie egg-white omelet and one slice of rye or whole wheat toast. Though the Belgian waffles and bacon may be tempting, steer clear: You’ll feel sluggish before you even make it to the office.