Eating out when you're trying to lose weight
Jun 25, 2022
Eating out doesn't necessarily need to be synonymous with putting on weight! Quite the contrary. I once coached someone who ate EVERY single meal out (and drank half a bottle of wine for lunch every day) and he managed to lose 5kg in 3 months. (Thankfully he ditched the wine after the first 3 months and lost considerably more as a result!).
These are the rules I got him to follow:
- When possible, do some research online before choosing a restaurant. Check out different menus and choose one that you feel comfortable with. It doesn't necessarily need to be a "healthy" restaurant but go for one that pays attention to the quality of the ingredients and that isn't just fast food. Most restaurants will at least have one item on the menu that you can work with based on the recommendations below. If someone else chooses and you're not comfortable with the menu, say so! The whole point of eating out is that it should be a pleasant culinary experience for everyone involved. I generally go for Mediterranean or Asian cuisine as they are easy to find healthy options at.
- Don't starve yourself because you're going out to eat. This is such a common thing to do but sets you up for eating too much and feeling crappy after. I always tell my clients to make sure they don't turn up to a restaurant starving. Have a fruit a couple of hours before or a handful of nuts.
- Make it about the people, not the food! Going to a restaurant should primarily be a social experience. Yes the food is important and what you choose is definitely important. But if you go in with the mindset that it's all about the food, you're more likely to eat more and make poorer choices, than if you think of it as a social experience.
- Put away the bread basket. The easiest is to send it away but if you're dining with other people who insist on having bread then move it closer to them and away from you. Wheat is inflammatory and bread is empty calories, even if it's gluten free, vegan or whatever! I always say that bread is a great food to eat if you want to put on weight, or make sure you don't lose any. In other words, stay clear of it if you want to lose weight.
- Only have a starter if you're feeling really hungry. A good choice would be a vegetable based based dish like a salad or a soup. Another option would be to go for fish or seafood like a carpaccio, tartare or ceviche. Any combination of both works too! But stay clear of anything that is pastry or cheese based.
- As a main dish, choose a protein you enjoy. It can be fish, meat, chicken or seafood. If you're vegan it might be trickier but most restaurants will have some tofu dish or plant based dish on the menu. Complement your protein with veggies and/or salad only. If the chicken comes with rice & veggies, ask for the rice to be replaced with veggies or a salad. Stay clear of all carb heavy dishes such as pasta, risotto, lasagna and/or noodles.
- Order a side of veggies. I nearly always do this because I have a big appetite and generally the amount of veggies I get at a restaurant will not be enough to make me feel satisfied. Veggies are full of fibre & antioxidants so if you want to feel nourished, this is what you need to fill your plate with. Go for veggies dressed in olive oil and avoid the heavy sauces.
- Skip the dessert! Easier said than done for some people but if you're serious about losing weight then sugar should be the last thing you're putting in your mouth! If you have to have it, share it with someone and enjoy each mouthful by eating slowly.
- Whatever you do, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY! Guilt is what will lead you to eating more food and feeling like you've failed. You haven't failed! Weight loss is about progress, not perfection and of being your own biggest cheerleader. Beating yourself up serves no purpose. It's not one meal that will ruin your weight loss efforts. It's believing it will that will.
If you're serious about weight loss, check out the 7 day Summer Body Detox starting on July 4th or drop me an email [email protected] to create a customised experience with private coaching.