image credit: Christina from paperbagblog
This is one of those questions that as a health coach I get asked all the time. How can I eat out and still lose weight or stick to my healthy living goals? It can be hard, especially when you have a row of several social occasions one after another. It’s easy to let that really knock you off your game, but fear not, here are a few of my top tips for sticking to your healthy living goals when eating out!
It is generally the answer to everything! I tend to say to clients that if they are eating out once a month just don’t sweat it. Choose something you really want, enjoy it and move on. Remember that it’s what you do consistently, not on occasion that counts. If the eating out is happening more often than this, that’s when it can pay to have a strategy…
Have a strategy
If you are eating out quite often and chose to just eat what you wanted, it could have an impact on your general wellbeing and your weight. Instead, try having a strategy. Check out menus online before you dine to see what might be the best option. Stick to one or two courses instead of three or more. If you have some influence over where you go, see if you can take everyone to a place that has the best healthy options. Don’t go overboard on the alcohol. Think ‘sensible’ rather than restricted or going overboard at either extreme.
Know your best healthy options
If you do need to have a strategy, it’s useful to know what the healthiest options are for you. Remember this is just if you are eating out a lot, if it’s only every once in a while damn well enjoy it! I tend to be more aware of sweet sugary sauces than fatty ones, so I’ll avoid things like sweet and sour sauce, but enjoy curries made with cream and coconut milk. It can also be helpful to watch the carbohydrate portion of the meal which is usually pretty big, so that might mean eating less rice, not ordering additional chips with your burger in a bun and keeping an eye on the size of pasta dishes. If you are having more than one course, have soup or a salad to start rather than something bready.
Many times I’ve looked at a menu online, picked put a healthy option and then when I’ve been sat in the restaurant I’ve ordered something completely different and far less healthy. Sometimes it’s due to habit, peer pressure from the other diners or the fact that I just wanted to indulge! This one might sound a bit loopy but try visualising yourself ordering that healthy choice, asking for your non alcoholic drink at the bar, saying ‘no thank you I’m full’ when you are full etc. The more you do something the easier it becomes and visualisation is like practice without physically doing it so give it a try!
Eat light, but don’t restrict
If you know you are going out for a big slap up meal, it makes sense to eat a little lighter before and after it. This is not meant to mean restriction, all that will do is make you eat loads more once you go out! Instead just make healthy choices with lots of fresh veggies and don’t skip meals. Salads and green smoothies generally work well for me the day before and after a big meal out.
Take some pro-biotics and digestive enzymes
If you find that you feel uncomfortably bloated after a meal, try taking some digestive enzymes to help process that food. Peppermint tea can also help. If you get a dodgy tummy the following day give some pro-biotics a try.
Don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty
Food guilt is a pointless emotion and waste of your emotional energy. You can’t undo what you’ve done or eaten (let’s never ever go down that road) so leave it in the past. Do try and learn from it by thinking about why you may have made less than stellar choices, but after taking note of that move on. Don’t restrict, just eat healthy nourishing food. Remember not to get sucked into a diet mentality and feel like you’ve f**ked up. Don’t make a situation worse by allowing it to continue. Just leave it in the past, remember it’s what you do consistently that counts and get yourself back into healthy habits. A bit of exercise might help, even if its just a walk!
How do you manage eating out? What are your favourite healthier options? What do you always treat yourself to?