Last week, I went out to dinner.
The diet was actually going great. That is until the menu came out.
Many of us will bust our butts at the gym and watch what we week all week long. But it's easy to blow it all with just one date.
Fear not. There are ways you can dine out without having to loosen the belt.
The experts will tell you to skip them. I'll tell you to skip their advice.
I'm no expert, but I love food. And if I want an appetizer, I'm going to get one, @#$% it.
So we can do this one of two ways. The first would be the obvious - split it with a loved one (or not so loved one, taking into consideration it might mean you eat more than half).
The second way is a little less obvious. Shoot for the app with the most protein. Boneless wings, sans blue cheese dressing. The reason is that the protein will help fill you up and might prevent you from pigging out on dessert.
And skip the bread - especially if it's not whole wheat or multigrain (is it ever?). That's because it will spike your blood sugar and will probably leave you wanting more. It will also save you hundreds of calories from the butter or olive oil you would have put on it.
"Try the fried (insert food here)," suggests the waitress. Don't. Yes, it's tasty. But we're on a mission here, people.
Watch it. I get it, I do. There's a wine or a beer for everything. And I'm not even going into how many hundreds and hundreds of calories are in each of those margaritas.
Here's why I caution you to be careful. Besides the fact that booze has calories, it also has a funny effect on your body. First of all, it will dehydrate you - and people often mistake dehydration for hunger.
Second, there's very little nutritional benefit. Yes, we've done countless stories on the benefits of wine. But we're talking about your waistline right now, not the need for antioxidants.
Third, your body has to use alcohol for energy before anything else. That means if you eat too many calories, they're stored as fat. The more booze, the more fat.
How we roll - water. Lots of water. Two glasses before dinner should help fill you up and super hydrate you. Be "that customer" who needs a pitcher of water. It's refreshing, it's calorie free and it gives you an excuse to go to the restroom and text your friends to get you out of the bad blind date you were suckered into.
First, the order. "Cream of" is never a good start. Chances are, it's packed with calories.
Try and get the sauces and salad dressings on the side. Dip your fork, stab the food, eat, repeat.
Get brown rice instead of white. It digests slower, filling you up. Do the sweet potato instead of the baked for the same reason. And if you can switch the carbs like these for veggies, you'll fill up faster with less the guilt. Unless, of course, they're smothered in butter and cheese.
When the meal comes out, cut it in half. Push half far away from you. Far, as in to your date's plate or to a doggy bag. If it's there, you'll be tempted to eat it. And more likely than not, you'll be full without it. Besides, if you save it - you've got lunch tomorrow.
That's right, I said dessert. Skipping dessert, to some of us, is a bigger sin than eating it.
Here are a couple of tricks. First of all, get one dessert for the whole table. Tapas work so well in Spain because you pace yourself and sometimes find you just wanted a bite or two.
Go for the fruit. Some restaurants will offer strawberries in chocolate. At least something with fruit will boost the nutritional value while slashing the calories a bit. And many restaurants now offer "low cal" desserts. They're not the best, but they're not the worst. And I guess that's where the expression "you can have your cake and eat it, too" came from.