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I can remember so many times when I would be trying to lose weight and would do "good" all day; then I would blow it in the evening when we would go out to dinner.

Either from not eating enough calories during the day, or from the smells and visual stimulation of dinner party buffets, my physical desire for food would overcome my mental desire not to overeat.

No matter how much self-control you have, it is simply not wise to show up at a dinner party feeling as though you are starving.

Here are ten tips to follow if you are dieting and plan on going out to eat.
  1. My favorite and most effective tip for avoiding pitfalls at dinner is to drink a protein drink or eat half a sandwich with a bottle of water 1/2 to 1 hour before dinner.

    This allows you to make intelligent decisions on what foods you should eat to help you reach your fitness goals. It will also help you identify to what degree your eating habits are affected by reasons other than physical hunger.

    Taking the time to avoid uncontrollable hunger is an excellent way to ward off an uncontrollable appetite!

  2. Call ahead! If you don't yet trust yourself to make the right decision at a restaurant, call ahead and ask what healthy choices are on the menu. Make your choices before you arrive. That way you won't be so tempted to order a high-fat entree. You'll have a plan.

    If you are going to a dinner party at a friend's house, simply tell them you are eating healthy and would like to know what they are serving. Done in a polite way, they should take no offense at your asking.

    If their menu is barbecued pork, fried chicken, and several desserts, then eat a good meal right before you go. Never ask them to prepare something different for you. They are busy enough getting ready for the party.

  3. Pack a snack. What if you are not at home, but you are going from work or class directly out to dinner? Keep a small lunch box or ice chest at work or in the car with a bottle of water and a healthy snack to eat on your way.

    By the time you reach the restaurant, you will feel much more in control. And though you might see your favorite entree, because your snack has curbed your appetite, you will be able to choose a salad or soup and side dish instead.

    I try to remind myself to make decisions ahead of time based on my fitness goals. If maintaining my weight is my goal, I choose between the lighter meal just mentioned or go ahead and order my favorite entree.

    I'm free to make that decision because by the time I get to a maintenance program, I have enough self-control not to overeat.

    When my goal is losing weight, I make choices that will help me reach my goals faster. When I first heard of people carrying around food, it seemed a little extreme. However, many people in the health industry do this whenever necessary.

    When I am maintaining my weight, I normally don't practice this, but when I am losing weight—as I did after giving birth to my children—I do whatever is necessary to lose the extra fat. I know it is OK to have setbacks, but I also know that every decision affects my goals.

  4. Drink water before your meal comes. Whether cooking at home or arriving at a restaurant, it's a great idea to drink two glasses of water before you eat for two reasons: First, it will help you consume your daily water quota, and second, it will help fill you up.

    This is especially important when you are unable to have your pre-dinner snack.

  5. Pre-dinner routine. I've actually been so serious about not overeating that I have gone so far as to have a pre-dinner routine. When I show up at a restaurant so hungry that everything looks good, this is what I do.

    I sit down at the table, drink a glass of water, order a dinner salad as an appetizer (no cheese, dressing on the side) and my dinner selection. Then, while everyone else is eating chips and hot sauce or bread and butter, I go to the ladies' room and wash my hands and put on some lipstick.

    This gives me a few minutes away from the table so that I'm not staring at the chips and hot sauce. I think about my goals and by the time I return to the table, my salad comes right out. Once I eat my salad, I'm not so hungry anymore.

  6. Be curious. Ask the restaurant how their chicken or fish is prepared. I asked a steak house about their chicken preparation and learned it was marinated in so much butter that I would be better off ordering a steak instead!

    Hidden fat in foods can absolutely ruin your most honorable efforts to make the right choices. Of course, baked, broiled or grilled is always better than fried.

  7. Try something new! Just gotta have a baked potato? Great, but instead of ordering it with butter and sour cream, try seasoning it with picante sauce. Taste buds not so spicy? Then try vegetables sauteed in olive oil and "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" over your potato.

    It's delicious and much less fattening. Potatoes covered with cottage cheese, salt and pepper are also tasty. Remember, you are not giving up your favorite foods, but you are modifying your choices in order to lose excess fat.

  8. Share, share, share! Split your meal with a friend or your spouse and consume half the calories. Most restaurants serve portions that are far too big for one meal anyway. If the entree is too small for two, order grilled veggies, a small salad or soup (clear soups are usually much less fattening than creamy soups).

  9. Beware the colas! Nothing can hinder your progress as subtly as drinking colas. Ordering water or unsweetened tea at your meal can save you about 140 empty calories. That's a total of 280 calories if you get a refill!

    It's these kinds of small decisions that make all the difference. If the thought of breaking the cola habit is just too much, simply decide to have one only at special occasions.

  10. It's dessert time! When I'm out to dinner, I often order a decaf coffee or hot tea while my dining companions are drooling over the dessert menu. Just having something while they are having dessert keeps me from feeling left out.

    If I must have something sweet, but don't want to hinder my weight loss, I will ask for a bowl of fresh fruit.

    When I do have dessert I usually share one with my husband. To some it might seem a greater victory to simply never order dessert at all. But for me to have just one or two bites of a dessert and push the dish away is a complete celebration of my freedom.

    I lived my life for many years with an "all or nothing" relationship with food—feast or famine. There was no in between for me. The strength of self-control rules my decisions now.

    When I decide to eat something not so healthy—and there are times I most certainly do (usually something chocolate)—it's based on a decision, not on compulsion. It's wonderful to be free!

    Kenneth Copeland Ministries
    All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Marty Copeland
Web site: Marty Copeland
Marty Copeland is a wife, mother of 3, a Master Personal Trainer and Nutritional Guidance Counselor. Most importantly, she is here, doing this, because she has experienced first hand that God not only desires to help us reach our health and fitness goals, but He has the perfect plan that will lead us to a lifestyle of freedom and self-control. She has come to know that true health is more than just having a strong and healthy body-though that is something we should all enjoy. True health also includes a strong spirit and soul. It is when our spirits are full and our minds are strong that living a healthy lifestyle becomes easy.

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