Is it Possible to Eat Out and Still Eat Healthy?

It doesn’t take a nutritionist to figure out that many restaurant menu items come in large portions and focus more on taste rather than nutrition. That’s why Dr. Gayle M. Timmerman of the University of Texas at Austin led a research study on whether or not it’s necessary to stop eating out in order to lose or even maintain weight. Plastic surgery patients who undergo body contouring procedures like tummy tuck, liposuction, and post bariatric surgery are often concerned about maintaining their results, but making wise decisions while dining out is important for anyone who is trying to maintain or even lose weight.

Timmerman’s study divided a group of 35 women (ages 40-59) who ate out frequently into two sections: an intervention and a comparison group.  The women in the intervention group completed a 6-week Mindful Restaurant Eating program to learn how to make better menu choices. The comparison group did not complete the program and were instructed to continue eating how they would regularly. Although the study focused more on weight maintenance than weight loss, evidence showed that the members of the intervention group lost more weight. Researchers concluded that it’s not about how often you eat at restaurants, but about how you manage your eating habits when eating out.

Southern Plastic Surgery can help you make good food choices like those taught in the study’s Mindful Eating program. Since Dr. Whiteman often shares healthy recipes on his blog, we thought this would be a great opportunity to provide tips for eating out healthfully. See the tips below to learn more about making better menu choices:

  • Choose carefully– No matter where you choose to eat, some menu choices are always better than others. For instance, choose a grilled or roasted meat over fried.  Likewise, if you’re eating pasta, choose red-based sauce over white-based sauce for fewer calories.
  • Drink water– Soft drinks, juices, and even alcoholic beverages typically contain excess sugar and calories that can easily be avoided by drinking water.
  • Don’t forget the extras– When we say “extras” we mean those extra sauces and condiments. It’s important not to forget that these extras add extra fat and calories to your meal.
  • Make it special– Don’t be afraid to ask to substitute something on your order to make it healthier. The worst they can say is no, but most restaurants will be happy to accommodate you.
  • Eat mindfully and slowly– Although most people go out to eat to socialize and enjoy time with friends and family, you can’t forget to pay attention while you eat. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the conversation and eat all of the food on your plate. Take small bites, and pay attention to how you feel. Stop eating when you are full.
  • Don’t be ashamed of the to-go box– Many restaurants provide enough food in one entrée to eat over two or three sittings. Determine that you aren’t going to finish before you even start. Some people find it beneficial to ask for a box before they begin eating so that they will not go overboard.

Dr. Whiteman knows the important role health and wellness play in everyday life as well as plastic surgery.  He also knows that part of maximizing your health and wellness means getting out and enjoying life—that includes eating out! Stay tuned to his blog for more healthy tips, recipes, and plastic surgery news and updates.  Be sure to connect with him on Facebook and Twitter if you haven’t already.

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