Yes, eating every single meal at home is one way to ensure you’re in control of your food choices. But that sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Most of us have to grab food on the go at some point, or are obliged to dine out frequently with work colleagues, or just want to enjoy a nice restaurant meal with friends or family from time to time. But just because you won’t always have full control over the menu for every meal doesn’t mean you can’t stick to your budget. There are many ways to ace eating away from home.
Here are some more helpful dining-out ideas, including ways to use Weight Watchers tools to help you stay in control.
Arm yourself with your SmartPointsTM budget
The first step to enjoying an on-plan restaurant meal is to get a clear idea of how many SmartPoints you want to spend while you’re there. Then, consider what you want to do before, during, and after the meal to help you stick to your goal.
Before you go out
- Figure out what cuisine you’re going to be eating. Once you’ve decided, try to look at an online menu so you can narrow down your options. Check out our restaurant decoding tips article for some helpful hints. Bonus points if you pre-track your meal! You can even save your favourite restaurant meals to your Tracker!
- Do the math. Will you use any of your weekly SmartPoints budget for the meal, perhaps for a special dessert?
- Rehearse your “lines” ahead of time. If you’re not used to asking for “a side salad instead of fries,” practice before you go so you’re comfortable making the request.
At the restaurant
- Be sleuthy! Every dish may not be as healthy or unhealthy as they initially seem. Take a good look at the ingredients; feel free to look them up on the Weight Watchers mobile app to get an idea of how many SmartPoints they’ll actually cost you. For instance, salad’s a good choice, right? Well… not always, if it’s a Cobb salad, it’ll come loaded with bacon and blue cheese!
- Ask questions! If you’re not sure how a dish is prepared based on the description, always ask your server for details. You don’t want to end up with a surprise.
- Get creative with the menu. No need to order a full-size entrée: Try an appetizer or small plate instead, you may find yourself full after just the first course.
- Want to satisfy your sweet tooth? Stick with something light like sorbet, or share a dessert with your dining companion (or just ask if you can steal one forkful before they dig in!).
After the meal
- Track it. If you pre-tracked, check your numbers and adjust where necessary. Even if you went over your planned allotment of SmartPoints, you're better off recording what you ate. It keeps you mindful.
- Look back at how the meal went. Were there any unexpected hurdles—that basket of cheese rolls, say, or your boss urging you to try her fried calamari? How did you handle them? If you're not happy with any of your choices, what could you do differently? A post-prandial post-mortem can help set you up for success next time.
- Make your next meal an on-plan one. You've heard it before: When you slip, get right back on the path. In this case, if you've overdone it, a lower SmartPoints value meal that you measure and track carefully can help set you squarely back on solid ground. If you haven't overdone it, then you're simply reinforcing your good choices!
Red Potato, Kale and Bacon Hash
A classic diner dish made SmartPoints-friendly. It hits the spot morning, noon, or night, and for only 8 SmartPoints. It’s lightened up with turkey bacon and lots of veggies, and kicked up with hot sauce.