Table for One: Tips on Dining Solo
Whether you are single, you travel alot, or both, dinner for one can be daunting when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Restaurant portions are often very large, ordering more than you need becomes customary, and eating because you are just plain bored are all factors that can pack on extra pounds for busy travelers.
Here are a few tips to stay on the healthy lifestyle track when dining solo:
*Read a book – Part of why we overeat when dining alone is because our brain and our hands are focused on one task, eating. Bring along a good book, magazine, or newspaper to keep your brain active and engaged with something other than the food on the plate. And, reading is a good activity to keep unwanted conversation at bay while you are decompressing from your day.
*Take up writing – I am a writer, so by nature, I enjoy putting pen to paper when I dine alone. But, you don’t have to be a professional writer to enjoy the comforts of writing. Write down your thoughts, plan tomorrow’s meeting or recap the day – keeping your brain engaged in some other activity besides the food in front of you will slow your eating habits, thereby giving your brain and stomach time to communicate that you are full. Plus, you may find it amusing how writing drives others’ curiosity crazy. Don’t be surprised if your dining neighbors ask, “whatcha writing?” How you respond is up to you. 🙂
*Order an appetizer – If you had a big lunch meeting, keep dinner simple with a light appetizer. Stay away from anything with the words “sliders” and “fried”. Grilled options are usually more bikini friendly. Order sauces on the side.
*Embrace the entree – I know, the tip above suggested ordering just an appetizer, but, if you had a light lunch and are really hungry for dinner, embrace the entree and skip the appetizer. Just don’t go for both. Have one or the other. Focus on foods that are going to give you energy, not sap it out of you. Energy sappers: bread, bread, and bread, heavy cream sauces, deep fried foods, and most rice and pasta dishes. Energy boosters: grilled fish and chicken, add vegetables that are grilled or steamed, order sauces on the side.
*Be a picky orderer – When it comes to your health, have your best interests at heart. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the menu and how the foods are prepared. When ordering, request the vegetables be sauteed in as little oil or butter as possible, and request sauces be placed on the side. Chefs aim to please, especially these days when special requests are heard more often.
*Take half to go – I picked up this little tip from friend and author, Shannon Hammer (Positive Portions) who lost over 100 pounds and has kept the weight off for years. Shannon suggests ordering a to-go container right when you place your order. And, when the food is served, take half of it and immediately put it aside to go. If you are traveling and don’t want leftovers, give the food away, or better yet, ask when ordering if they can do a half order. You’d be surprised how many restaurants will honor your request.
*Pack your own healthy travel snacks whenever possible – When I fly, I pack fresh bell peppers, broccoli florets, apples, raw almonds, and a few grapes. I am not bothered by what others think and you shouldn’t be either. Chances are they will admire your good health choices and will follow suit next time they travel. And, eating healthy snacks during travel staves off food cravings for junk foods, maintains blood sugar levels, and boosts your energy – helping you make better choices, food and otherwise.
*Exercise on the plane – Have a long flight? Get up and do some stretches, leg lifts, and arm rotations. Even just 10 to 15 minutes of exercise will improve blood flow and boost energy. Fear of looking like an idiot? Get over it. People will be inspired by your healthy actions.