Weight loss and eating out are not two things you can easily do but unless you plan to never leave your house, you simply cannot avoid eating out. I have found this to be one of the hardest challenges as part of my weight loss journey and now that I have reached my goal, maintaining my weight is now my focus.
I suppose there are a number of factors as to why; I love eating and I love it most when I have not had to cook it! I particularly love pastry and Italian food – two food categories that don’t know the meaning of calories! And I have discovered how you can so easily consume twice your recommended allowance of your calories through really bad high street food options of sandwiches, salads and anything you want to grab and go!
And it’s not all just about calories, it’s about consuming the right kind of food too. Eating 2,000 calories of carbs is not the same as eating 2,000 calories of protein, you still need to consider making healthy choices.
Now I am partial to brunch, lunch and dinner, in fact I rarely pass up an invitation, but I have come to realise that if I want to do this, I have to build it into my healthy weight management lifestyle or quite frankly I am going to be right back where I was in January this year, and I’m not prepared to do that, I have worked too hard!
WEIGHT LOSS AND EATING OUT – WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT THE DOOR
Before giving any tips on how to eat out, I think my biggest advice would be is that you need to give what you eat consideration. We all have days where we splurge, and that’s absolutely fine, but then you need to balance that out with days where perhaps you are super sensible and you try an counteract what you’ve done (or about to).
Women need 2,000 calories a day – and then depending on how much you exercise you can potentially have more. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, so if you need specifics for your own self you should really get expert advice. I work on 2,000 calories a day – and I still count them now that I have reached my goal – because if I didn’t, old habits would slip back in and I will start to gain weight.
Now if my week ahead is busy with brunch, lunch and dinner (and for me these are the best weeks!) then I do a little planning. I generally eat six time a day, but perhaps if I am going for brunch I would perhaps still eat my early morning breakfast at 5.45am but then I would combine my morning snack and my lunch together – this would make my brunch allocation. I then wouldn’t eat again until my mid-afternoon snack.
If I am grabbing lunch on the go by myself, then I would stick to my allocation of 350 and find items to eat that fall within that. If though I was eating lunch out with my girlfriends then I would probably add my allocation of lunch and mid-afternoon snack together.
My evening dinner is always under 600 calories – well this is not really feasible if you are going out for dinner and you want to enjoy yourself. So I take a completely different approach, as I don’t go out to dinner very often (for me is more brunch & lunch).
For dinner nights out, I would think about what I am doing the day before and the day after. If we assume I am not doing anything special, then the day before I would reduce my calorie intake to say 1,800 or 1,750 and also do the same for the day after the dinner – 3 days equals 6,000 calories and so across those three days I would stick to this, rather than being strict on 2,000 on the dinner day. I hope that all makes sense?? (leave any questions in the comments box below and I will aim to answer!)
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
By knowing how many calories you have or simply by sticking to the sort of food you typically would be eating at that time of day is a good starting point. For many restaurants, cafes and even the likes of Starbucks and McDonalds they publish their menus online and some with calorie information – so you can be well informed before you even arrive.
DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES
If I take a look back at my lifestyle before losing weight, I think drinks was one of the biggest calorie consuming areas for me. I loved lattes, but most of the are 300+ calories a drink and I also was partial to adding lemonade to either my orange juice as a soft drink or to my wine on a night out – I now can’t quite get my head just how much sugar I was consuming. So if I can’t drink alcohol because I am driving, then I opt for peppermint tea (or Americano) during the day and then of an evening it’s simply sparkling water with a lime wedge and ice. I do drink alcohol but not a lot so I don’t count the calories, I am partial to a Gin & Tonic which I don’t think is that much anyway or simple glass of Rose.
I NEVER HAVE DESERT
I simply do not want the sugar. So if you go knowing you are not having it, I find I don’t miss out. I order a double espresso when others order their desert.
HIGH STREET & SUPERMARKET LUNCHES
Without a doubt this is harder than eating in a cafe or restaurant. Food on the go can be a real ordeal and this is how I have got around it. Where I can, I carry my own protein bars or snacks in my bag. When I need to eat lunch and I can’t take it with me, I will look at every item to see what is under 275 calories (this then leaves me with about 75 to play with for baked crisps or popcorn to have alongside).
I tend to opt for plain chicken or prawn sandwiches as they are less calorific. I have rarely found a decent salad that will be filling enough for me (leaves are simply not enough food). Rarely is a salad a good option, because the dressing or the contents just seems to be high in calories.
I’VE MADE PORRIDGE MY BEST FRIEND
Well exactly that! Porridge – it’s filling, it’s healthy, it’s not high in calories and you can get it quite easily in the likes of Pret a Manger on the go! This especially works if I am out and about early in London, as my mid-morning snack. I find then, I can hold off till I am back home, and then I have the benefit of making my own late-lunch. Or I buy the porridge pots and it’s my morning snack at my corporate work because I have access to hot water, it’s so easy and what I love most is it keeps me full.
With weight loss and eating out, I don’t want my need to maintain my weight to form part of the evening with friends and family; I just want to get out and enjoy my food. So my final tip would be, don’t worry if you end up eating 4,000 calories on a night out…. enjoy yourself first and then be good as gold for the next week or so. Or at least try to be!