Eating Out on a (WW) Budget

By Shani Petroff

I love getting together with friends. While I do try to schedule non-eating/drinking activities, often the get-togethers include a meal. There have been weeks where I’ve eaten out more than I’ve eaten in, and for me, that puts me in danger of going over my SmartPoints® budget. To keep this fromq happening, I’ve been trying a few things:

  1. Looking at the menu ahead of time. This helps me decipher how many SmartPoints values I’ll be using if I pick certain dishes. It keeps me from going accidentally (or even intentionally) overboard, because when I don’t plan ahead, I don’t always make the best decisions. Sometimes it’s because the waiter is ready to take the order, and I haven’t had a chance to really look at the menu yet so I just point to the first thing I see. Other times it’s because I get “eye” hungry—i.e. I see all these yummy foods and find myself ordering way more than I actually need. When I plan ahead, I know what I’m getting myself into—and can keep myself on track.
  2. Taking advantage of zero Points® foods. Fish, beans, chicken, vegetables, etc. are all zero Points foods. If I have already used up a good portion of my daily Budget, sticking with these items will fill me up and not put me over my limit. 
  3. Not being afraid to ask! I love salmon. By itself it is a zero Points food. However, oil, sauces, etc., can turn that zero into double digits. There have been several occasions when I thought I was making the smart choice, only to later realize that my entrée was soaked in butter. One tablespoon of butter is 5 SmartPoints value, and there were a lot more than one in my dish. If I had asked before I ordered, I could have requested it to be prepared a different way, or made a different choice.
  4. Water, water, water. I find if I drink water both before and during the meal, I’m less inclined to overeat. It helps me eat more slowly and realize when I’m full.
  5. Skipping the bread basket. There’s nothing wrong with bread. You can have it, if you want it. However, for me personally, when I’m at a restaurant, I want to spend my extra Points on an appetizer or a drink or dessert. Usually bread is not high up on my list. However, if I’m hungry and they put it in front of me before my meal gets there—I wind up eating it. Then I’ve spent part of my budget on something I didn’t even want, but ate because it was there. So now, I often ask to skip the bread service all together.
  6. BYOF—Bringing Your Own Food. A good friend of mine wanted to meet up for lunch. I really wanted to go, but I also really didn’t want to eat at a restaurant. I wanted to see exactly how my food was prepared. So, I did both. We met at a community garden in the neighborhood and brought our own food with us. The weather was nice, there were places to sit, and there was beautiful scenery to view. It was a win-win. I got to see my friend, eat my lunch, and know exactly how many SmartPoints values I was consuming.

What are your tips for eating out? I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on Connect @shani!

Read more Shani Weighs In.