Let’s be honest here, Restaurants are the number-one place to sabotage your diet. And I’m sure that will be of no surprise to anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight. I am not saying though that you need to become a recluse just because you are trying to lose weight. No. I am just saying that when you eat out on a diet, you just need to be smarter.
Social settings like bars or restaurant can make it really difficult to stay on track, and saying no when temptations are put in front of us especially when in the presence of other people eating is really hard.
A recent study I read stated that people had about a 60% chance of succumbing to temptations at restaurants and when they were around others who were eating.
Some people see eating out as an excuse to take a break from their diet, but it’s important to remember that eating healthy is not a diet you should feel you can go on and off; it’s needs to be a lifestyle. It’s okay if they you want to go out Friday night and eat a burger as a treat, but then they you need to cut back on Thursday and Saturday and eat as you usually would the rest of the time.
I hate hearing people say they are going for a ‘Cheat Meal’, and eat about 5 times their calorie allowance in one sitting, doing the absolute dog on it. Eating out or outside your usual healthy lifestyle diet should not be seen as a cheat, but a treat. A moment used to spend time with loved ones, to eat something not prepared by you. A chance to eat something a little different every now again, and as a treat. You should definitly not be left feeling guilty after – that to me is not having a healthy relationship with food or indeed living a healthy lifestyle.
So I have compiled a list of simple tips to keep in mind if you are eating out but want to stay somewhat in line with your goals.
- Sauces – be cautious of those creamy pasta sauces, and indeed anything that comes with sauce. If at all possible, ask for the sauce on the side. Then at least you can add a little bit of sauce without overdoing it. Sauces can be quite rich in cream and cheese etc which adds quite a lot of calories to your meal.
- Choose grilled instead of fried. If opting for fish or chicken or indeed vegetables, try and get the grilled option instead of fried. Fried foods are often laced with olive oil which is quite high in calories.
- Swap normal chips for sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are more nutritious and less carby than normal potatoes.
- Or better yet, get a side salad instead of the accompanying carb. If you are really trying to stay on track, then this one is great alternative.
- Be mindful of the bread basket. Alot of restaurants will give you a bread basket, especially if you’re having starters. Try and steer clear of indulging into the bread, remember it’s an extra not a necessity.
- Opt for low cal options – in alot of restaurants there are now sections on the menu that offer a low cal option. Taking for instance Milano’s have a skinny pizza range. This means you basically get to eat your pizza but not feel like you’ve overdone it.
- Opt for a starter OR dessert. Our bodies do not require as much food as we think they do. Opt for one or the other, a 3 course meal is ALOT of food and seriously unnecessary.
- Share your mains – if there are 2 options on the menu that tickle your fancy, or say for instance you go for Tapas, ask the person you are with can you share or go halves. This will give you the best of both worlds, and wont result in you over indulging.
- Eat with your brain not your eyes. When you sit down to look at the menu, try and be mindful and think about how hungry you really are and not eat with your eyes. This one takes practice, especially if it’s somewhere new you are trying and everything on the menu looks amazing.
- Drink Water throughout the meal. This will keep you feeling full.
The number one thing to remember her though is this: Treat not Cheat – remind yourself that this is not a ‘cheat’ – This is a ‘treat’. You do not need to overdo it. You should not feel like you are cheating on your diet, but treating yourself. Taking a break out of routine to enjoy yourself, not stuff yourself until you feel sick or cannot move. And remember, its a treat MEAL. Don’t make it into a treat day/weekend. Living a healthy lifestyle should be something you want to live by 24/7, 365 days a year. Not a Monday – Thursday thing, then Friday-Sunday you eat completely willy nilly. No, it’s a lifestyle, not a something you can decide to adapt when you feel like it.
Next week I will follow up with a list of my Top 5/10 healthiest places to eat in Dublin 🙂 so watch out for that one.