Eating Out Tips
1. Don’t starve yourself before dinner.
The first thing you must do if you know you are going out for dinner is NOT to starve yourself beforehand. We’ve all done it before, skipped lunch and snacks so you can really enjoy the dinner.
Now unless you’re a pro at intermittent fasting this strategy of not eating for the day is unlikely going to work as a method of lowering your overall calorie intake
What may end up happening is that you eat the bread beforehand, get a starters, finish your friends starters, eat your mains, pick at their mains and get a dessert even though you’re full but seeing as you haven’t eaten all day you might as well! Sound familiar?
Researchers have found that 92 % of meals in restaurants have double the amount of calories recommended for a single meal. Read here to find out more about that. I’m not one to count calories but when they are that much in excess calories have to be taken into account.
With this in mind it is very possible for you to take in far more than your daily calorie allowance in one sitting and that’s not including what you taste from your friends or your drinks.
It may prove a far better idea to eat something healthy before you go out and eat as normal throughout the day. That way you are not tempted to have the bread of starters or eat leftovers. You can have your mains, let it digest and so you have enough time to realise that you’re also not hungry for dessert.
2. Eliminate the Processed Carbohydrates.
If you’ve been eating well throughout the day it will be easy to skip the the bread. But they aren’t the only carbohydrates you should steer clear of if you want to balance your hormones and achieve your optimal weight.
Pass on the pasta, rice and the potatoes. Keep temptation off your plate by ordering your meal without these.
If you are ordering a starter, go for salads with sauce on the side or meat selections
If ordering a sandwich or burger, most restaurants will substitute lettuce for the bun and if not just immediately wrap bun in tissue and leave on side-plate. Leaving it on your plate just adds to the temptation to go picking at it later.
If the meals come with chips, potatoes, pasta or rice most places will happily give you extra vegetables or salad in their place. If you have to pay extra for this just think the extra few euros is a small price to pay for a healthier body.
If they forget and come down with sides anyways ask them to re-plate so you can have just your extra veg or salad. If it’s a more casual place just remove them from your plate in a napkin, bring a lunch box and give it to a homeless person or use it for your compost.
The best thing to order is a meat (steak,fish,lamb, chicken etc) with veg and sauce on the side.
3. Add Healthy Fats
Sometimes the rest of the meal is too low in fat to feel satisfied after you have removed the carbohydrates. This can leave you feeling a little hard done by and craving more.
Instead of digging into the plate of chips and sending your hormones off on one, ask for some butter to put on your vegetables or some extra virgin olive oil so you have use this for salads.
This will help fill you up, keep hormones happy and make your food taste better!
4. Sauces on the side.
Be wary of sauces. These are a chef’s way of adding that little something to a meal that makes you want to devour every single piece. Sometimes this is due to the sugar content, sometimes it’s not.
Always ask for sauces, dressings and gravies on the side or go without just so you know exactly what you’re eating.
5. Drink at the end of the meal.
Water, tea, coffee, tea are all perfect.If you’re having an alcoholic drink choose dry wines, champagne, light beers or shorts (e.g vodka, whiskey etc.) mixed with only soda water or sparkling water.
Although you will probably order your alcoholic drink at the start of the meal, try and leave it until after your meal to drink it. Your liver will concentrate on alcohol first and so if you drink it with your meal digestion won’t be optimal and your meal will just sit in your stomach. This can lead to gas, bloating, heartburn, indigestion, reflux, diarrhoea or constipation.
6. Are you really hungry for Dessert?
Dessert is usually bought out of habit, emotion or pressure and almost never out of hunger. When people are ordering desserts simply ask for a coffee with cream on the side- the addition of the cream is enough to keep people quiet! You can then enjoy your coffee and cream in peace.
If it’s late ask for a decaf coffee or tea or even enjoy your alcoholic drink now.
If you have given yourself enough time to digest the meal and you are still hungry see if a cheese board is an option or berries with cream.
If you really insist on having dessert share it. How much do you really need to taste to enjoy it
Usually at breakfast time but sometimes a buffet can appear at a wedding and other special occasions. Buffets usually have a great selection of low sugar and hormone-friendly foods.
- Don’t pick up the biggest plate there if weight loss is one of your goals- just like shopping carts we feel like we have to fill them. If the plate is very small you can always go back and fill it up again.
- Remember bread will not get you anywhere nearer your goals so avoid this.
- The same goes for pasta, rice and any other processed carbohydrates.
- Focus on meats, eggs, salads, vegetables, fish. Add olive oil, butter and cheese.
- Give yourself time to enjoy the food. If you grew up in a big household- you may try and eat everything faster than you can say ‘I need to open my top button’. The fear of strangers eating all that ‘free’ food is instilled in us all but I need to, we need to let it go! Enjoy the process of eating slowly, talk a lot, enjoy the atmosphere, drink sips of water. It can take a while before you actually feel full. So don’t rush back for seconds too quickly, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Breakfast Buffets
Some people can often treat buffet breakfasts as a three course meal- starting with highly processed, high sugar cereals and mueslis, moving onto the fried foods and then finishing with pastries.
At breakfast steer clear of all cereals even the ‘heart healthy’, ‘cholesterol lowering’, ‘low fat’ ones. Cereals and muesli are often advertised as healthy when in fact they are loaded with sugar. If something has to convince you it’s healthy it usually isn’t.
Fruit is often supplied but depending where you are can actually be tinned fruit which is extremely high in sugar due to the syrup. Fresh berries are great to add to Greek yogurt and nuts at breakfast time.
Go straight for the hot breakfast- eggs and bacon. Sausages if cheap are usually full of ingredients that are far from healthy and so avoid these. Black pudding is fine occasionally and a source of iron. Beans, processed carbohydrates, cereals, hash browns etc can be high GI and so will raise your blood sugar levels. This can impact your hormones for the rest of the day leading to possible fatigue, cravings, moodiness and weight gain.
You don’t need bread to fill you up, this is a habit. If you’re still hungry get some Greek or natural yogurt and add berries. Don’t have the flavoured yogurts as these are full of sugar opt only for the plain ones.
You could also have some porridge if there are limited options, just add Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds so you are getting some protein and healthy fats.
Again tea, coffee and water are perfect. Juices are a huge no! You wouldn’t have coke with your breakfast yet juice companies advertise their products for breakfast even though they have the same amount of sugar! Read this and this to find out more.
It’s important to get this right as having a high sugar breakfast can send your hormones and cravings out of whack for the day.
Fast Food Chains
No matter how good your intentions sometimes you will inevitably find yourself at a fast food restaurant. Believe it or not, it is quite easy to eat well in these places nowadays due to the high emphasis on healthy eating in the media.
Salads are available in most of these outlets now. Make sure you have meat, greens (leaves), colourful vegetables (tomatoes, peppers) and healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil).
Most places also have their nutritional values on display as well and so if the dressing in less than 5g of sugar per 100 g that’s fine too!
Drinks- water, tea or coffee.
If there are no salad options just order a burger. Top it with cheese, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato. Discard the bun part or ask for the burger without it when you are ordering. And say no to the chips and ketchup.
At Mexican restaurants just order the meat without the tacos or wraps or tortilla chips.
Asian restaurants are hard to eat well as there is so many additives and sweeteners (certainly not the same ingredients the locals eat). Indian maybe the best choice.Skip the rice and the naan bread and go for wholesome curries and tikka masala or butter chicken.
Pizza is one of the most irresistible and addictive foods on the planet. Read more about that here. Unsurprisingly then it’s not that good for you (sadface). You can however make it a little better.
- Double up on the toppings and eat just these.
- Eat it with a fork and knife to slow you down. That way you will give yourself time to feel full and won’t eat as much.
- Avoid the crust anyways if you find yourself eating the base.
- But the best thing to do is avoid the Pizza Shop!
Petrol Stations/Convenience Shops
These used to be very difficult to eat well in but thankfully times have changed!
Most have some sort of deli counter now and so you can easily get a salad made up. Add chicken, eggs, avocado etc make sure there is enough in it to keep you full.
Nuts are often widely available. Go for the unsalted and unroasted ones (basically not the ones you find in the pub). A handful is enough per day.
Get an avocado, a plastic knife and a spoon. Cut it in half and eat it like an egg- very nutritious and filling.
Unflavoured Greek yogurt is usually available also. Add nuts and some berries if you wish.
Being out and about doesn’t mean you can’t eat well it just means you have to be smarter about what you do eat!