One of the hardest things for some people when starting a healthier diet is managing dining out with friends or family. In today's world, it's more common to eat at a restaurant or on the go than it is to cook meals at home. Remember that when you want to eat healthy at restaurants, sometimes it is the simplest decisions that have the most impact. I want to help you with tips and tricks to navigate these situations so you can enjoy restaurants while on myWW!
You Can Eat Healthy at Restaurants
I'm not saying you can go out to eat every day, but you do NOT have to give up restaurants on myWW! Enjoy being social with your friends at a leisurely lunch, get a drink with co-workers at the end of a long day or spend a romantic date night out with your significant other… GUILT FREE.
Starting weight watchers can seem overwhelming at first. Unlike most diets that restrict you from certain foods, WW has a point system that gives you the freedom to make decisions. However, making healthy decisions while dining out can be tricky if you don't plan in advance and know what to look for.
What support does WW have for dining out?
Weight Watchers has been around for decades and their recent rebranding as WW has not changed their commitment to supporting their members. Through the app, online support and in-person meetings, there is a variety of options to support you while dining out. If you search on their website, they break down their support into several categories.
- Let's Go Out For…
- The Restaurant Survival Guide
- Enjoy Dining Out
- Portion Estimator
- Food Court Cheat Sheet
Your life can not stop because you are eating healthier. That is why WW is a lifestyle change and not a “diet”. It's a commitment to changing the way you think about food in order to be successful in staying healthy even when/if you stop tracking points completely.
5 Tips To Eating Healthier While Dining Out
1. Choose Quality Over Quantity
Often, meals served in restaurants are loaded up with starchy sides and huge portions that are cooked in butter or oil which ends up being calorie overload. Make smarter choices when ordering to focus on proteins and fresh vegetables. You will find that intentional eating is much more filling than consuming random calories.
To get a better picture, think of your body like an expensive car. If you were to use cheap gasoline, yes, it would still run for a while. However, when high-quality gasoline is used, it will perform at its best for a long time.
Just Remember To Keep It Simple
- Ask for a take-out container with your meal. Immediately take half of your plate and save it for another meal. (Bonus, less meal prep!)
- Order from the appetizer menu for smaller portions
- Share a meal with a friend
- Swap a side dish out for a salad with lite dressing
These tips may seem simple and common sense, but I found that when I'm making changes to my lifestyle, I need to be reminded to slow down and notice the microchanges I am making. Every small change contributes to you changing your life, celebrate it.
Smiley's Points has an incredible resource for those looking for portion control advice along with a beautiful printable guide to keep with you!
Check it out by clicking here.
2. “Free” Starters Are Dangerous
We all love it when the “free” foods show up at the table as soon as we sit down. Depending on your level of willpower, you can ask the server not to bring it to the table or you can simply ignore it. I challenge you to see it on the plate and walk away from it untouched. You may just feel wonderfully empowered knowing you turned it down.
If you really must have a roll, (I get it, sometimes you're hangry and need something until the meal shows up), opt for the multigrain option and skip the butter.
However, I also understand the struggle of being with a group and not partaking in the appetizers. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is instead of accepting what the restaurant gives you as “free”, remember you have your OWN list of FREE foods! Check out the appetizers that are vegetarian or order a vegetable soup to start off your meal.
3. Stick to Water: Save Calories and Your Wallet!
Soda and other drinks are overpriced when dining out to begin with. Instead, ask for a glass of water with either a lemon or a lime for flavor. Water is essential to successful weight loss, so enjoy it! If you are craving a sweeter drink, I used to carry the single-serving packets of drink mix by Crystal Light in my purse. Lately, I've been using my Cirkul as I can dial in my flavor and carry it with me at all time. Read more about getting your cirkul trial set for only $5 on my post about other healthy drinks for myWW.
I love this variety pack because it keeps things interesting! The cherry pomegranate is my favorite flavor.
4. Slow Down and Enjoy
The chef took a long time to prepare your dish so take the time to savor it. Enjoy the time away from the day to day life whether you are dining alone or with friends. By eating slower, you can pay closer attention to how hungry you really are. Too often, we eat so fast and then end up with that uncomfortable “too full” feeling.
You may notice as you go through your meal that you sigh. That is actually your body's way of saying it is full! Next time you eat, pay attention to when you sigh, I'll bet it's sooner than you think!
5. Don't Be Afraid To Ask
If there is a dish you want but are concerned about ingredients or cooking methods, JUST ASK. Most of the time, a quick question to the chef will solve many of your questions as to which dish to order.
For example, many restaurants saute their vegetables in butter and seasonings but you can request for them to be steamed and served dry. The same is true for steaks and seafood. Restaurant chefs love to use butter, oil and fats as flavor bombs. Don't be afraid to speak up for your healthy eating at restaurants.
Put Your Knowledge Into Practice
It's Friday night and you are heading out with your friends for dinner. It's been a long week and you would love to have a drink with your meal.
- Alcoholic drink: choose rum with a diet soda for only 3 points.
- Starter options: Southwest Steak and Black Bean Soup for only 2 points or a house salad with fat-free Italian dressing for only 4 points
- Entree: Wood-Fired Grill Butcher's 8 ounce USDA Top Sirloin with a double helping of steamed broccoli (Ask them to steam them without butter for a zero point side!) for 5 points or the Thai Shrimp Salad with dressing for only 8 points.
Check out this WW guide to Applebee's from SarahScoop for a list of everything on their menu with point values!
What fast food restaurant meals can I order on WW?
The flexibility of WW Freestyle Points or SmartPoints budget is being able to dine out without the guilt. A few substitutions or knowing your menu in advance can be a game-changer when following WW at restaurants. When you are looking for the best weight watchers friendly fast food restaurant, there are options!
I am a mom, I get the chaos that is life. Between work, school bus pickups, extracurricular activities and maintaining your sanity, sometimes dinners on the go are essential. My go-to choice on the go is Subway for their variety of healthy choices.
Other Fast Food Options on WW
The lighter choice is obviously the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad at only 6 points, but beware the southwest dressing coming in at 4 points. Either bring your own dressing or swap for a fat-free Italian. Another alternative is the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich with a side of apple slices for only 8 points.
Besides the garden side salad, the salads here end up having just as many points as a 4 piece nugget and fries at 15 points. Instead, go for the large chili at 4 points.