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Your guide to eating out whilst trying to lose weight

Weight loss kingston

Don’t arrive famished

A common mistake people make is trying to eat less during the day leading up to going out for a meal…

Unfortunately, this results in your blood sugar levels dropping and increased hunger. The body’s “survival mode” kicks in and tells you that you need high calorie food to survive…

As a result, when you finally eat, you are most likely to choose high calorie options, refined carbohydrates and eat very quickly…

The consequence of this, is that you will probably consume more calories for that day than you would have done if you had just eaten your usual regular meals.

Eat mindfully

Mindful eating is about paying attention to your food and physical cues when you are eating. Those who eat mindfully are more likely to eat slower and experience a greater level of satisfaction from eating…

This often results in greater recognition of hunger and satiety, eating fewer calories and a reduced tendency to over-eat or binge eat.

Try the following:

1) Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls.

2) Chew your food well.

3) Savour the first few mouthfuls as this is when your taste buds are heightened.

4) Check in with yourself after each course and ask yourself, am I hungry?

5) Reflect on how you feel after over-eating. Did you feel more satisfied? Did you feel comfortable? What will you do differently next time?

Get the balance right

Try to make sure that your meal includes a source of protein, a portion of starch and some vegetables or salad. This will help you to feel satisfied after your meal and to meet your body’s nutritional needs.

If your meal doesn’t come with vegetables or salad, then ask for some on the side. Commonly when we eat out, we are given 2 portions of carbohydrate for example, a burger bun and chips or naan bread and rice. Think about swapping one of these starch portions for some vegetables or salad.

If you only eat out occasionally:

Make satisfaction your goal

If you only eat out once a month or less, then 1 meal out is not going to make much difference to your weight loss journey, so you don’t need to worry so much about your choices. You can still however, try and apply the above suggestions.

Choose something from the menu you know you will really enjoy and give yourself full permission to eat it without feeling guilty.

If you eat out frequently:

When we eat out, we typically consume more calories than we normally would. This is because the food tends to contain extra fat and the portion sizes are often large…

If you eat out every week or more often, then you are going to have to have a think about your choices to keep you on track with your weight loss journey. The following suggestions may help…

Plan ahead

The good news is that many restaurants these days put their menus on their website so you can decide what you’re having in advance. Many will offer lighter options on the menu or even better will list the calorie content to help you with making an informed decision.

Don’t have the bread

Some restaurants will give the option to have bread or other “nibbles” before your starter or main course. A couple of slices of bread with butter before your meal is likely to add an additional 300 calories, which is a small meal on its own. As long as you don’t arrive feeling famished, then it should be easy enough to decline this. You will probably find that if you don’t have the bread, you will enjoy your main meal more because your taste buds are heightened in the first few mouthfuls of any meal.

Choose low calorie or no calorie drinks

If you were to have a couple of soft drinks such as coke or lemonade with your meal this would add approximately 250 calories to your meal. A pint of lager or large glass of wine would add about 200 calories…

Try and stick to low calorie soft drinks such as coke zero, diet lemonade or water. If you want to have alcohol, then try lower calorie options such as a single spirit with diet/slimline mixer or a glass of prosecco.

You don’t have to eat everything on your plate

Society tells us that we should always try and finish everything on our plate. Many of us were told growing up that leaving food on our plate is wasteful and should never be done…

In truth, if we eat something when we are not hungry then that food is wasted regardless of whether we eat it, or if it goes in the bin because it was more than our body needed. You can probably reflect on times when you may have eaten too much in one sitting, not wanting to waste food and you may have ended up feeling quite uncomfortable.

If you are presented with a large portion of food, then start by only eating half of what’s on your plate. After doing this, decide if you are still hungry. The chances are you will feel satisfied by eating only half, if this is the case ask the waiter to take your plate away as soon as possible. You can take the leftovers home with you to have the next day if you like.

Divide dessert

If you have had your main course and still feel hungry, then try sharing a dessert with someone else. If you don’t feel hungry but other people are ordering a dessert, then order a hot drink such as coffee or tea instead. You will save a lot of extra calories, whilst still feeling like you are having something enjoyable.

Plan to say no

You may find that the minute you tell others you are trying to lose weight, people feel the need to try and persuade you that it’s not necessary. They might say things like “it’s only this once” or “go on enjoy a dessert with me” …

Yes, their intentions are probably in the right place, they want you to enjoy yourself, but this is not particularly helpful when you are trying to lose weight. You might even find yourself eating or drinking things you didn’t really want or enjoy.

If you think that your friends, family, or work colleagues are likely to try and persuade you to have that extra glass of wine or tuck into a dessert then be prepared…

It helps to have a couple of phrases in mind that you will say in response. For example, you might say “that was delicious, but I am so full I couldn’t eat another thing” or “I had a big lunch earlier so I will stick to one course”.

Ask for sauce on the side

Sauces such as salad dressings, peppercorn sauce and mayonnaise are often very high in fat. Fat contains twice as many calories as carbohydrate and protein. Without doing much to the volume of your food you could be taking in a lot more calories than you realise…

By asking for your sauce on the side you can be in control of how much fat you are having.

Avoid fried options and creamy sauces

Instead of choosing fried foods which are high in fat, try to have grilled, steamed, or baked options where possible.

Choose tomato or other vegetable-based sauces rather than creamy of cheesy sauces. Not only will this help to reduce your intake of fat, but it will also add an extra healthy vegetable portion to your day.

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