By RACHEL HIETT

Think back to the last time you dined out at a restaurant. Were you overwhelmed by the huge serving size, or have you walked out feeling bloated and sluggish?

Over the years portion sizes have continued to grow. Being aware of this and following a few simple tips can help all of us avoid that tired and sluggish feeling after dining out.

The first tip can be accomplished before your food even arrives to the table. Try drinking a glass of water before your meal. This will make you feel less hungry and help prevent overeating when your food arrives.

The next tips take place when ordering your food. If eating out with someone, try agreeing on a meal to split. Restaurants are notorious for serving large portions. On average, restaurant servings are about 2.5 times larger than the standard serving size.

If you are eating out alone, there are still options, such as asking for a half portion, a child’s serving, or ordering an appetizer for a meal. All of these choices will lower your caloric intake and help prevent overeating.

When your food arrives to your table, make sure to take your time eating and enjoy your meal. Try taking smaller bites and chewing each mouthful five to six times before swallowing. Taking it slow allows you to fully enjoy your meal, but it also gives your brain time to register that you are full.

While you’re eating, think about how much of your meal you are going to eat and how much you are going to take home. It’s a good idea to cut your sandwich or main course in half and eat the first half, and then if you are feeling full you can easily box up a portion to go. It’s important to remember that you do not have to eat all the food on your plate.

Another tip is to make sure you are eating a meal before you are really hungry. Waiting long periods between meals leaves you starving and can lead to both overordering and overeating. It is better to eat consistently timed meals, and if you are hungry in between it’s OK to have a healthy snack.

Choosing a restaurant is also an important factor when trying to control portion sizes. It’s best to stay away from buffet style restaurants that encourage overeating, since you feel like you have to get your money’s worth. If you find yourself eating at a buffet style restaurant, first survey all of your options. That way you can make your choices accordingly. Begin with small portions and plenty of veggies, as you can always go back for seconds.

By using these quick and simple tips you can be more mindful of the amount of food you are consuming while dining out. These modifications have both short- and long-term benefits as you will feel satisfied but not guilty when leaving a restaurant, while also avoiding unwanted weight gain.

Hiett is a Bluffton University dietetic intern at the Ohio State University Extension of Hancock County.

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