Four tips for eating out while losing weight

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Eating in cafes and restaurants has become increasingly popular over recent years. When you’re trying to lose weight eating out can become a challenge because

  • The variety of tempting foods means you order more food than you need
  •  The size of the portions served means that you eat more than you would normally
  •  The presence of eating companions means you eat more because they encourage you to eat more
  •  The social buzz means that you focus on the conversation and eat without much awareness and end up eating  more than if you’d eaten alone

Appetite Retraining works round your lifestyle and routine, and eating out is as important an element of your eating pattern as any other. Whether you eat out once in a blue moon or eat out more than once a week, you can lose weight and maintain that weight loss.

You will need to alter your approach slightly if eating out has been a factor in you finding it difficult to lose weight. Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  1. Ordering your meal

There are two aspects to ordering. The first concerns what you really fancy eating and the second is about ordering the amount you need.
When you eat food that is just what your body is hungry for right now and it “hits the spot” it is easier to stop eating when you have had just enough. In contrast, when you eat something that isn’t quite what you wanted, it’s all too easy to carry on eating it or eat another dish in the search for something that does hit the spot.
Knowing what you really fancy eating is much easier when you are definitely hungry. Your taste buds are at their most sensitive then and it is easier to discern what you have an appetite for. This is why using the Appetite Pendulum and waiting to eat until you are definitely hungry is so helpful.

2.  Size of portions

If there is a smallish sized version of the food you really fancy, it is straightforward to order that, so ordering a starter instead of a main course, or a side order or two may provide the size of meal that will get you to +3 (just full on the Appetite Pendulum) without wasting too much food. If however what you really fancy is a dish that is bigger than you need, you can either ask to have it without part of it (eg the potatoes) or you can order the dish and leave what you don’t need. Leaving food on your plate can become a heated and emotional subject because it represents wastage of food. See my blog article on wasting food and remember that food is no less wasted if it goes through your body before being recycled than if it goes straight in the recycling bin. Putting it in the bin does not produce cardiovascular strain or increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

3.  Pressure from others to eat can be subtle or overt when eating out. The key issues with pressure from others are whether you can recruit them to help you eat as you want rather than as they want and if not, how you can move away from merging with others and become more independent in your own eating. This is a big issue and is discussed in another blog article, “How to cope when friends pressurise you to eat“.

4.  When you’re enjoying a meal with others, the conversation will be as important as the food. You need to pay both aspects of the meal equal respect in order to enjoy the food and to know when to stop eating. It would be disrespectful to friends to ignore what they were saying because you were too focused on your enjoyment of your food. When we eat socially we may sometimes pay the food very little attention because we are so focused on the social intercourse. Obviously there is a balance to be struck, but there is also a key point here about it being easy to overeat when we eat insufficiently mindfully when we are in company. One simple tip for focusing on food and friends at the same time is to talk about the food you are all eating while you are eating it, and about things related to it. That way your attention can focus on the deliciousness of the food as well as the pleasure of the company.

For details of seminars about how to eat out whilst losing weight please see the Seminars and Events page

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