How to stick to your diet when eating out

If you love food as much as I do then I'll bet that eating out is one of your favourite ways to treat yourself of an evening. So many personal trainers and diet planners recommend avoiding eating out entirely, but what's the point in eating healthily if you can't really enjoy yourself once in a while? Depriving yourself of all of your favourites is a sure fire way to give up with your diet.

To keep that dieting momentum going, as with everything, moderation is key. Making sensible choices about what you order and asking for a few minor alterations to your dish, can take a restaurant meal from being a gut busting binge, to a healthy little treat. These tips will have you ordering healthily with confidence.

Ditch the Dressing

When it comes to healthy eating, salad is an obvious choice for many of us. It's full of leafy greens, colourful veggies and therefore all of those vitamins that our bodies most need. However, a salad that we make at home, is not usually the same as a salad we might order in a restaurant. In order to pack in as much flavour as possible, many restaurants use calorie laden dressings. A single tablespoon of ranch dressing can cost 80 calories, and in a restaurant you're likely to be getting at least two or three tablespoons. As far as I'm concerned, you'd be better off using those calories for a piece of chocolate!

Cast Off the Coffee

Sometimes there’s a little truth in superstitions; in Greece, for example, it’s good luck to spill coffee, as it signals the arrival of wealth. The same could be said in the UK too, ditching that takeaway coffee habit could save you hundreds of pounds each year, as well as hundreds of calories! A large caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks has about 420 calories per cup and a staggering 63g of sugar! That's just ridiculous. Not to mention that a cup of this sugary rubbish will cost you around £4. If you cut out just one per week, then over the course of a year, you'll be saving yourself almost 22,000 calories and over £200. That's enough to treat yourself to a really fancy new frock to celebrate that sexy new silhouette.

Choose Your Chain Wisely

It's lovely to support local restaurants and if you're lucky enough to have some health conscious options around you then absolutely go for it! For many people though, the nearest small restaurants could spell disaster for dieters. Creamy homemade lasagna, fish and chips, pies, pizzas and puddings are all undoubtedly delicious, but local joints tend to serve them up in huge portions, which could see you eating nearly your whole daily allowance in just one sitting.

Some restaurant chains have fairly recently wised up to the idea that us healthy eaters want a healthy option when we go out for food. As such, most now include calories and other nutrition information on their menus and some even have a special 'healthy' section, which makes choosing a meal even easier. Pizza Express have really run with this idea and now feature a 'Leggerre' section on their menu, which allows diners to choose a meal that's less than 500 calories. The best bit? The pizza is just as delicious!

Make Your Calories Count

Spend it on a brownie, not on a salad

Sometimes it doesn't matter how long you stare at the healthy options menu, or how much you toy with the idea of a salad with no dressing, you just need something naughty. That's okay! Life is all about moderation. Of course, you can enjoy the things you love once in a while, the clever part is knowing how to do it without undoing all of your hard work.

So, if you know that you're going to be going to a restaurant that offers your favourite fudge brownie, plan ahead. It's unlikely that at the end of a long day, you're going to forego the best dessert in the world. Therefore it's a good idea to eat plenty of filling, but low calorie food throughout the day. That way, you won't be starving when you get to the restaurant and you'll know that you've got plenty of calories that you can use on a simple main course and a decadent pud.

Thinking ahead of time and eating accordingly is a really useful tip if, like me, you just can't resist a naughty treat from time to time.