How to eat out at restaurants:

I know I have a lot of problems when it comes to eating out at restaurants. First comes the bread, which is SO HARD for me to say no to (especially if it’s at Bonefish Grill or Red Lobster… mmm cheesy biscuits…) so I am going to compile a list of dos and don’ts for y’all

While you can have bread on weight watchers, I try to refrain. One cheesy biscuit at Red Lobster is about 5 points, and to me that’s just a waste of points when I could get something more filling in my actual meal. So if it’s just my husband and me, I usually ask them to just not bring out the bread. I know this is hard to do, because the bread is so good, but it’s a choice that you won’t regret. If I’m with friends that want bread, I usually ask them to keep the bread on their side of the table so that I wont be within easy reach of it. This sounds silly, but you’d be surprised how much it works. If you move it out of your reach it’s less likely that you’ll just casually pick up a piece and start munching away. My friends are great supporters in my diet, and they usually help me keep myself from making bad choices when we go out to eat. Unless their name is Kathleen. Then she tries to get me to cheat… 😛 Anywho, if you can pass the bread test, you can pass any other test at a restaurant!

Beware of alcoholic beverages! I love getting fun fruity drinks when I go out, but they can rack up the points faster than anything. Alcohol isn’t as easy for the body to metabolize, so it usually just makes you pack on the pounds much faster. If you absolutely have to have a drink with the girls (or boys!) try to find something like this to help you out:

Not all places will be so considerate, but if you find a drink like this try to choose it over a pina colada.

Next up are salads… all I have to say is BEWARE. Salads in restaurants are DECEIVING. They can be some of the highest point items on the menu. I am NOT joking. Chili’s has one salad, a citrus balsamic vinaigrette salad, that is upwards of 19 points. Now don’t get me wrong, I love salads. But you really have to pick and choose the ingredients you put in them:

Just look at those ingredients; points ninjas waiting in the shadows to strike!

I tend to get the basic house salad and ask to have the croutons and cheese taken off. If the salad has nuts or dried fruit, I take those suckers off too. Nuts are high in points and although fresh fruit is zero points, dried fruit isn’t. I also usually get balsamic or vinegar and oil. Any cream based salad dressing will be high in points, so be careful. If they have “lite” salad dressings, those are usually okay (again, lite cream based salad dressings will be worse). **It is also a good idea to ask for the salad dressing on the side, because then you wont eat as much of it.** Fill up on salads and vegetables! You will be less likely to pig out when your actual meal arrives.

Grilled Chicken alla Caprese from Red Robin: sans bread, croutons, and pepperoni slices. Extra onions 🙂

**Just a tip, the salad at Olive Garden is amazing, but the salad dressing is upwards of ten points. Solution? They have a low fat version of their salad dressing that you can ask for that tastes exactly the same. I am not joking. It’s awesome.

If you’re looking for a cup of soup before your meal, try to get something that isn’t cream based and has lots of veggies in it. Chicken noodle is a good choice. I usually average a cup of non-creamy soup at around 6 points. If the soup is cheesy, it’s probably not a good idea.

**Olive garden’s soups range anywhere from 3-6. The Minestrone is 3 per bowl and the Zuppa Toscana [sp] is about 4-5 (I always round up just in case. I’d rather spend too little points than too many.) Soup and salad is always a good choice at this restaurant, because you can fill up on the yummy salad and have one or two bowls of soup.

For your main course, try to figure out what dishes the restaurant serves before hand. I usually google the nutritional value menus for the restaurant that we’re going to for the night. For example, Outback Steakhouse has a complete nutrition menu available online. I can look up what I want to eat and just calculate how many points I will be spending from the comfort of my home. Then, when we get there, I don’t even open the menu. I set it aside and stick to what I picked out at home. (By the way, their mahi mahi is great!). Fish is always a good choice, but be careful with what they smother it in. Restaurants like to cover them in cream based sauces.

Desserts: I don’t even have to say beware, I’m sure most of you know this already. If you HAVE to have a desert, split it with someone. If it’s ala mode (with ice cream) ask for it without the ice cream. Again, Olive Garden has a great dessert option. Their berries and cream (which is unfortunately seasonal to summer) is only about 6 points and is fabulous. Can you tell I like Olive Garden?

Remember, you’re usually not as hungry as you think you are! Order something light and once you’re done with the salad/soup and your dinner, you will be full. I’m not talking about fit to bursting full; that’s never a good idea. I’m talking about satisfied but not weighed down full. I’m talking about healthy full 🙂 Choose your meals wisely!

Also remember that weight watchers lets you have 49 indulgence points each week, so if you really do want those two cheesy biscuits or that mango margarita, it is possible to splurge!

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