Guidance when eating out a group of friends enjoy a sociable meal
Nutrition Resources

Guidance When Eating Out

Like many of us these days eating out is an enjoyable experience we like to get involved in for many reasons. Its a great opportunity to relax, socialise and enjoy new tasty foods (without all the washing up). Guidance when eating out can help you both continue making decent progress and to fully enjoy the sociable experience

It does though pose significant problems if you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Firstly restaurants want to impress your taste buds and stomach. This often means lots of added fats and refined carbs, in sometimes copious amounts. Add then the temptation and alcohol and lowered inhibitions because your “relaxing” and your have the perfect storm to enable you to significantly consume way more calories than you need.

Before we continue and look at ways to reduce indulging desires and the associated affects. It’s important to remember that were social creatures that enjoy indulging from time to time. This article isn’t about becoming a recluse its about finding the right balance between enjoyment, indulgence and limitation where ended.

Essentially when you have an indulgent moment present itself, I see it that you have a trio of choices to make, but that what ever one you choose you commit and take responsibly for.

  1. Accept that you’re going to over indulge and that it will likely impact your efforts a little (or a lot) depending on the moment.
  2. Don’t indulge to remain progressing towards your goals.
  3. Indulge some, limiting the less favourable consumables.

If number 1, then ensure you at least enjoy the moment. Refrain from feeling guilty, instead seek the positives that came fro the experience. You enjoyed rich food, you had some alcoholic drinks, shared laughter with friends and created some worthwhile memories.  There’s nothing worse however than throwing caution to the wind, not enjoying the occasion and then sat staring into the abyss of regret.

Before you decide how you want to approach you evening ask yourself this simple. question. “What do I want from this experience?!” If enjoying indulgent food and alcoholic drinks is a priority than accept that you’ll be serving your social and relational health but affecting your physical health a little. If in contrast your priority is spending time with friends and laughing then aim to pick foods that are more nutritious and less damaging to your goals, but ensure you engage and have fun with your mates.

Priorities are different to all of us at different times. Just be true to yourself but own your decision. Don’t blame others or circumstances if you decided to indulge. You chose your path, so you should own the outcome. It works in every direction.

But I also believe you can have it all providing you understand how to correctly approach tempting situations. And are willing to limit some of your actions and behaviours in order to sustain some or most of your progress. Ultimately your actions need to serve you and no one else.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can successfully navigate those nights outs with friends and family.

8 Strategies To Help When Eating Out

  1.  Diet In & Diet Out. This only works if you have a planned event. It does little for those last minute beers after a hard week that your weren’t factored in to your plans. Simply cut around 100 calories extra for 7 days leading into the occasion and 100 calories for 7 days after the occasion. Thats a whopping 1400calories you could consume extra in that day / night. This does require discipline and accountably. For if you indulge and fail to reduce the calories over the 14 days you’ve now just added 1400 calories over two weeks which is around half a pound of fat.
  2. Read The Menu In Advance. Again you’ll need to know which restaurant you’re heading to and when. Having an idea what you will eat and drink can help you plan your calories better for that day. Tracking and logging your food will also help. If you can log your food before you go out and only consume that food you’ll have some valuable data that can reassure yum that your unlikely to gain weight (providing you didn’t deviate from your plans).
  3. Lean Protein. When eating out try and pick meals that are good sources of lean protein. Food like chicken breast, lean steaks, pork fillets etc can be better options in comparison to fat drenched noodles and rice. Also be aware of what the food has been cooked in. Oils per tube spoon can contain 100 calories which mouth up very quickly indeed. Don’t be scared to ask the chef / waiter to hold the cooking oil or even wipe oily residue from the food suing a napkin. You’ll be surprised at the calories this could potentially save you. Or again just accept that you’re eating out and that your control has been reduced.
  4. Don’t Go Out Hungry. Have a snack or small meal an hour or two before you go out for dinner. Ideally you want to be at around a 4 on the hunger scale  when you get to you restaurant. It’s a huge error to “starve yourself” the hours before. Once you hit that restaurant you’re more likely to gorge and make poor food choices. Going in slightly satiated will help reduce food obsessing and enable you to pick a meal that is better for your goals.
  5. Eat Slowly. Chew more, sip water between mouthfuls of food, and make conversation. Adding water helps stimulate  stretch receptors in you stomach, which signal fullness. Chewing more helps to extend the meal and allow time for hormone signalling to be registered by your brain. In fact compared to slower eaters people who eat fast are 115% more likely to become obese.
  6. Limit The Sides. Unless their steamed veg, fill your boots if so. If sides are part of your chosen meal and you have consciously factored them into your food experience, then cool. However, when the tray of free bread comes out or if you get offered to add calorie packed sides, try your best to resist. Its all too easy to mindlessly graze your way through the bread basket and dunk each piece in full fat butter. these calories will add up, plus now you have you meal to eat, which your totally nailing because you’ve just paid £30 for the steak.
  7. Beware Of Sauces. Im a sucker myself for a flavoursome sauce, but these tastes bud bandits can staggering add needless calories. For instance a service of the baconnaise sauce at GBK is 227 calories. I’d easily eat 4+ servings of these if I wasn’t thinking. You see how these mount up. Often restaurants use oils, butters, margarines and animal fats to create these flavour bombs, sadly though they do little for your health and can significantly impact your weight if consumed too often. If its a priority for you then enjoy anything but limit the amount. Successful diets are about limitation not restriction.
  8. Prepare To Fail. So yeah not the most optimistic statement here, but hear me out. Most of us have great intentions, but not always do these go accordingly to plan. Preparing to fail can help you deal with this should your best intentions turn into a indulgent nightmare. First thing to remember is RELAX. Ok so it didn’t go according to plan. Be pragmatic in your response. Worst than this is that you allow a “slip up night” to become a “slip up week.” As quick as possible ump straight back on the health wagon and continue your progress. Yeah you may gain a pound perhaps but gaining 5 is much worse. Isolate the incident and move on quickly. Remember taking accountability for your chosen actions is crucial for success.

It may take you several attempts to practice the art of moderation when going out to eat, and thats fine. Maybe not, but if nothing  else be mindful about your approach to going out. Be true to yourself and serve the element of your health that is most important to you. If it means you need a “blow out” then just ensure you enjoy it and try to limit the impact it has on your goals.  Don’t though allow others to knowingly or un knowingly sabotage your efforts to become Heather and happier. That’ll only end in you resenting yourself and them.

We are all a product of our daily decisions. Take responsibility for your choices, enjoy life and live well.

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