While most of us are conscious of what we eat at home, eating out can be a totally different story. To effectively manage your weight and to maintain your energy levels, try following this 8 simple steps.
- H2O is the go
Being dehydrated is often the cause of what we think are hunger pains. Every time you feel hungry, have a glass of water first. If you still feel hungry ten minutes later then eat something. Drinking two glasses of water before you go out for a meal will decrease your appetite, helping you make better food choices.
2. Bigger is not always better
Restaurants are competitive and often serve large portions as a way to offer value. However, eating unnecessarily large portions increases your intake of excess calories, which you will store if not burned off with exercise. Large portions are also harder to digest, which affects your energy levels and performance. Remember, it’s not rude if you don’t eat everything that is in front of you (even if your mum says otherwise!). A good indicator of appropriate portion size is the palm of your hand; if the piece of meat is larger than that, it may be unnecessary calories. If dining out, have the waiter take your plate when you are full, to help you avoid temptation of ‘picking’ later on if the plate is still in front of you.
3. But it tastes so good!
The reason why restaurant meals often taste so much better than our own is because of the ‘invisible extras’ they add in. Things like butter, cream, salt and oily dressings can sabotage an otherwise light and healthy meal. Ask for dressings on the side and avoid ordering dishes that are made using cream-based sauces.
While eating a three-course meal is okay for ‘cheat day’, avoid getting into the habit for business lunches or regular outings. If you can, avoid dessert. If you can’t then order a starter instead of a main course to lower your total calorie intake. Try eating something nutritious beforehand to decrease your appetite.
5. Take a snooze from the booze
Alcohol may be fluid, but it is packed full of calories. A healthy meal will be sabotaged quickly when a few drinks are added to the equation. Not saying don’t have a drink, just be aware of how it adds to the size of your meal. Try these tips to limit consumption.
Avoid drinking at lunch, or if you can’t then don’t allow the waiter to refill your wine glass when it’s still half full. Order a non-alcoholic beverage first and say “I’ll grab one later”. Chances are the person you are with will forget once they have had a couple so you can stick to the light-stuff without too much hassle.
If you go out for drinks after work, try a spritzer instead of a full glass of wine, and have a healthy snack before you go to help discourage you from reaching for the canapes. If you are going to have spirits choose ‘white’ ones like gin or vodka as they contain less sugar than the dark spirits.
6. Eat slowly
We are often full 15 minutes before we stop eating, so eat slowly to gain a better sense of when you are becoming full, and stop eating before you feel full. You can try to bring the smart fork to help you to eat slowly. It will vibrate and lights up if you are eating to fast.
If you have to go to the buffets, scan the buffet before you load up. Make sure the plate is mostly vegetables and salad, some lean meat and a small portion of healthy carbohydrates, such as rice/pasta or one medium sized potato. Skip the breads and fillers at the start of the line and choose the quality items further along. If possible, use a smaller plate to avoid ‘over loading’.
8. The sweet stuff
If you are the type who can ‘have a taste’ then take it away, go for it. But if you can’t stop once you start, then it’s best to avoid dessert altogether. Of course, when you absolutely have to have it, try choosing options that are fruit based, like poach pears for example.
So there you go the 8 tips of eating out that you can always incorporate into your daily life. It is, however, not as easy as written to apply those methods in your current situation but the most important thing is your thought control. Thoughts control our actions and behaviour, so view the opportunity of eating out as a way of increasing your health rather than negatively affecting it.
View the menu with the idea of trying healthy things you don’t often have time to buy or know how to cook. If you think in this way you won’t feel deprived, rather, you will feel in control and able to enjoy the experience.
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Good luck and stay motivated!