Portion control sounds a lot easier in theory than in practice. Sit down at a restaurant and notice how big the plates are: According to the Daily Mail, plate sizes have increased by four times since the 1950s. In addition, restaurant chefs have a rule of thumb in the kitchen – add salt to every layer of the dish. As a result, we can end up overeating because our brains get tricked by the plates in front of us.
Chain restaurants have tried to curb this overeating by listing calorie counts and different icons to alert people to low-fat options. Most recently, some restaurants have taken to adding a small shaker icon next to different items to show that the food contains high levels of sodium. However, evidence suggests that consumers may ignore these indicators. Is there another way to help us keep our healthy eating on track?
For many people watching their weight, they swear off restaurants due to their concerns about overeating. However, you shouldn’t have to avoid eating out – instead adopt these tips to help you:
Use an app(etizer plate) to curb cravings
When given more food, researchers have found that restaurant-goers will eat almost double than they anticipate. Fight this mindless eating by noshing from a smaller plate. Ask your server for a side plate or an appetizer plate. You can go back to your main dish for seconds – but it will also feel like seconds.
Investigate the restaurant’s menu
If you’re checking out a restaurant’s menu for the first time after a long day, you may reach for a carb-heavy dish. Instead, check out the different items ahead of time – preferably when you’re not starving. Much like grocery shopping, choosing a meal before you’re starving can help you decide on a healthier option.
Look for leafy greens and whole foods
This can be tricky. Many restaurant-goers choose salads instinctively – but these options can be full of cheese, dried fruit and dressing that is high in sugar. If you’re in the mood for a salad, ask for the dressing on the side. Look for salads that use spices for flavor or go light on the cheese.
Split dessert with several spoons
Pastry chefs labor over their desserts – and it would be a shame to put their hard work to waste. But many desserts also suffer from large portions, just like entrees. You can have your cake and eat it too, however, by splitting it with friends and family. Instead of forgoing dessert, ask your server for several spoons. It will give you a chance to sample a dessert and satisfy your your sweet tooth.
The benefits of portion control are substantial. Paired with a strong exercise regimen, it can help you lose or maintain your weight. You can still enjoy going out to restaurants with friends and family without fretting over your waistline. Use these tips to assist with your portion control – and never be afraid to ask to take the rest home! Many dishes make tasty lunches for the following day or can be great salad toppers.