January’s coming to an end and so too are some of our efforts to stick to our new year resolutions.
There may be a few injuries looming or the will power to stick to your 100mph new diet is failing.
One of the things that starts to creep back in gradually is eating out. Dry Jan often makes us avoid going out rather than simply not drinking while we are out but as we ease our grip and we start frequenting our favourite restaurants and bars, weight gain could be lurking at the door.
Here’s some tips you can try to stay out of trouble eating out.
- Checkout the menu before you go
- Drink water before you go and/or have a nutritious snack before you go
- Eat to 80% full
- Share deserts
- Don’t go drink for drink with others
- Avoid FOMO
- Don’t drink while you eat (wine excluded)
- Re constitute your meal with added protein.
Checkout the menu before you go.
Although this isn’t always easy try and pop on to the restaurants website and check out their menu. This way you can make a conscious decision as to what you are likely to choose. Your mind will fixate on the better option if you make the decision in a better space rather than being influenced by hunger or someone else’s order. To that point you may want to try and order first so that you have locked in your meal and not being swayed by others.
Drinking water before you go.
Drinking water before you head to the restaurant will not only hydrate you but satisfy an empty stomach. This will only take the edge off the hunger but it will make you less likely to down the pre meal drink (if there is one) and the hydration will delay the effects of any alcohol you consume leaving you in a better space to make less intoxicated meal decisions.
Eating a nutritious snack before you go can have a similar effect in that it will take the edge of your hunger and potentially make you go for more tasty options rather than the satisfying one. For example I know that if I go to a restaurant hungry I may look at the menu and weigh up the burger and chips verses the sea bass on greens. I know the sea bass will be a nicer meal but will it satisfy me in the same way? This can be negated if I have had an apple or small salad pot a few hours before. A high protein snack is also a good option as it will be more satiating.
Eat to 80% full
For many of us this can be a challenge as throughout our childhood we were often reminded to finish our plate or ‘there’s starving children in Africa’. Although this is sadly true the last 20% of chips on your plate don’t have to disappear. You can connect with your satiety and stop the urge to finish them. This is a practice promoted in Japan and has a dramatic effect on their weight and fat levels as a nation.
Share deserts or grab a coffee.
The optimal answer here is to skip dessert and some find that easy but many of us have a sweet tooth and eying up the desert menu is too irresistible.
One option is to try and have a standard response of ‘no’ to the waiter when they ask if you would like to see the desert menu. If you fancy a sweet finisher then consider sharing with someone. The sugar in a desert is often going to throw your blood glucose levels in to haywire, just what you need before you go to bed.
If you can tolerate coffee late at night then this can be a nice replacement as it allows you to still feel involved rather than sitting there empty handed feeling like you’re missing out.
Sauces (as well as drinks) are where we find camouflaged calories. Calories that almost go under the radar. A few spoonfuls of mayonnaise could add 200 calories to a meal which is huge, almost another meal! Throw in a dash of chilli oil and some butter and before you know it you have doubled your calories for the meal.
I’m not saying this to scare you or make you feel guilty but its the hidden stuff that really gets us! Herein lies the habits that creep in to our lives confusing and leading us to believe that healthy eating just ‘doesn’t work for me’. One argument would be that if the food you eat at a restaurant needs you to add extra sauces to it, its probably not that good a meal in the first place.
Saucy curries and pastas will also carry more calories and sugars than we may anticipate so consider drier meals like mixed grills or vegetarian options.
Going drink for drink with others.
Having a background in professional sport, especially cricket means I know this pitfall very intimately. A few beers after the game is fine but when me at 5’8 and 75kg goes up against our opening bowler at 6’4 and 100kg the drinks will disappear at different rates.
Keeping up can be challenging but felt like a necessity at the time. Having the strength to drink at your own pace will help you enjoy the evening on your terms and not be dictated by others. Being in ‘rounds’ can make this hard but consider missing rounds as your investing in your health rather than being short changed.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing! “Ooo what’s he eating over there” or “we are just going to go for one more drink, wanna come?” common phrases I’m sure we have all heard before. The more of these experiences you encounter the more you start to realise that you aren’t missing that much. Try and be mindful each time you fall for it, asses how it went so that the next time you’re in that position you could say to yourself ‘not this time’
From a psychological perspective a lot of people try and drag others into their bad habits to justify it to themselves so again be mindful and purposeful with your own decisions rather than reactive.
Don’t drink while you eat.
Another classic we hear as kids is ‘washing your food down’ with a drink. Theres not much logic to this. We want our stomach ‘juices’ to be as potent as possible so washing the food down with drink is only going to serve to dilute stomach acid and thus slow down our digestion.
I’ll let you have a drop of wine as it often accompanies meals well, besides if you’re washing down food with wine then you have a real problem!!
You can’t out train a bad diet. Eating 1000 calories would require a serious workout to counter and even then it doesn’t quite fit as neatly into that box. As mentioned you can’t out train a calorific meal but you can give the calories somewhere to go. Weight training will break muscle tissue down ready to be rebuilt, toned, and strengthened. If we time a session just before eating then our body is physiologically crying out for good nutrition so it will not only give the calories and nutrients somewhere to go but increase our ability to make better choices.
Reconstitute your meal by adding protein and fibre.
The ratios of nutrients in our meal play a part in how the body reacts to it. If the meal is fat heavy then we may not be able to consume a lot because it feels too rich. If theres too many carbs in it then we often keep picking. Protein has a satiating quality, meaning it fills us up. Protein has a good balance of giving us energy while not initiating too much of a rise in blood sugar. Fibre in our meals is important as once again it slows down the absorption of sugars and helps drip feel energy over a longer period of time.
So as counterintuitive as this may sound the next time you go for that pizza consider asking for an extra chicken breast chopped up and put on it!