It seems like nothing can throw off your weight-loss plans like a dinner invitation. You want to socialize and try new dishes, but finding something healthy on the menu can be challenging, especially when even the cleanest-looking options can have hidden ingredients or huge portion sizes. And it's tough to settle for a plain side salad when your friends and family are wolfing down burgers.
John Morton, MD, weight-loss expert and chief of bariatric surgery at Stanford, told POPSUGAR that he recommends people eat at home as much as possible when they're trying to lose weight. If that's not an option, though, he has a workaround: when you're at a restaurant, order an appetizer as your entrée.
Appetizers typically have smaller portion sizes, Dr. Morton said, making it easier to curb overeating. Beyond that, "a lot of appetizers are protein-based. That's really what you want when you're making your food choices is to have that protein." That's because studies show that high-protein foods are your best bet to fill you up and keep you full for longer. They'll also boost your metabolism, helping you burn more calories with the more protein you eat. Dr. Morton also recommends "fruits, vegetables, and fiber" as other satisfying appetizer choices.
So what kinds of appetizers should you go for? Soups and salads are great; a small study suggests that soups can be particularly filling. The protein element is crucial, though. Opt for a dish that'll fill you up, like a chicken soup or salad with tofu or salmon. Make sure it's something tasty, too; Dr. Morton said that appreciating and enjoying your food can help you feel more full. Try healthy vegetable appetizers like brussels sprouts, edamame, or artichokes, too.
Remember to tell the server that you're ordering your app as a main so that you're not left without a meal when the rest of the table gets served. And don't be afraid to ask about the ingredients, either — choosing the healthiest option means knowing exactly what's in it. Make smart choices at the table and you'll never have to turn down another meal invite.