Eating out should be an enjoyable experience, not a stressful one! When you’re trying to be mindful of your choices or making positive nutrition changes, eating out can be a barrier to success. However, it’s also a social function that you shouldn’t have to dread or avoid.
Luckily, there are some simple tips to avoid sabotaging your diet while going out for a social event:
One mistake that many of us make, despite having been in this situation before, is going out hungry. When you are hungry you may feel out of control about what you eat and how much. Ensuring you consume regular meals and snacks throughout the day is important. It’s a huge mistake to try and “save your calories” for one meal.
First, because that simply isn’t a healthy way to eat but also because it never works out that way. If you lose control at a restaurant, it is far too easy to consume more than a day’s worth of calories in one meal. Perhaps let yourself get a little hungry, but let it be the type of hunger that still leaves you in control.
Portion sizes around the globe have increased massively. While you may have a mindset of only eating until you are full, that just isn’t how people really function with food in front of them. The portion sizes restaurants offer are excessive, and, no matter the size of the portion we do tend to eat it all!
A study with 51 men and women found a 30% increase in calorie consumption when participants were offered the largest portion than when offered the smallest portion. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12450884)
- Plan what you will eat before eating out
- Ordering or even asking for a smaller portion. It may feel bad to pay the same amount for less food, but what you are really paying for is not having that food sit on your hips or belly as fat!
- Sharing a meal or choose two starters in place of meal.
- Don’t be shy of leaving food on your plate or even asking for a doggy bag
Simply put, water is healthier – we all know that. Nevertheless, choosing water isn’t always that easy. Sometimes we feel pressured into drinking alcohol. If this is the case, then try to limit yourself to 1 or 2.
Just to give you an example, a cocktail can include around 500 calories, the caloric amount of a full healthy meal. Other options that can make you feel like you are getting a treat without the massive calories are diet fizzy drinks, coffee, or tea. If you’re set on having an alcoholic beverage, opt for clear spirits mixed with diet soda to save on calories.
Because eating out is a treat, we can sometimes fall into the trap of the “cheating” mentality. Mental labels of “bad” foods or “unhealthy” foods can cause you to feel guilty about your choices. Therefore, it’s easy to think of your order at a restaurant as a cheat meal, that somehow doesn’t count or factor into your eating goals.
The cheating mentality does not help you in the long run; it leads to unhealthy cycles and a damaged relationship with food. Instead, enjoy your food without guilt, and know that healthy eating is not perfect eating. It’s about making healthy choices most of the time and allowing yourself to enjoy all foods.
Enjoying your life should not be separate from losing weight. They can co-exist. It may just take a little extra planning and effort on your part, but don’t let dinners or lunches out be a discouraging experience.