Life doesn’t stop when you have a weight loss goal. This can be really annoying because HELLO!? You want to lose weight and how can you do that when everyone wants to go out to eat?! OR is can be super exciting because you absolutely can still have a social life, go to parties, out to dinner or out for drinks and still lose weight.
If you’re not prepared, though, an unplanned meal from you kitchen can kind of throw a wrench in your system. Up until that point, you’ve been cruising along, making great choices, prepping your meals and suddenly you’re out at a restaurant with no clue what the heck to order.
I’ve got you covered 😉
We’re going to cover three major points to help you enjoy dining out when losing weight. I’m going to tell you what foods to focus on to keep you on track with your fat loss goals, how to get creative with modifications and how to tap into your fullness cues.
Foods to focus on
This is how you can build a fat loss friendly meal a la carte:
- Start with protein: baked chicken, lean cuts of steak or pork, and baked or broiled fish are all great options. Try to stay away from anything fried or covered in bread crumbs.
- Add veggies. There are almost always sides of vegetables available at a restaurant. Even if it’s not on the menus, I’d suggest asking anyway. You’d be surprised at how many places will whip up something like a side of broccoli for you even if it’s not specifically written on the menu. You can also ask for a double serving to give yourself even more of the good stuff.
- Consider starches. I suggest sticking to either the bread basket, a glass or wine or some dessert. Not all three 😉 If you’d rather have some potatoes or another starch with your meal, then leave the bread, wine and dessert for another time.
Now you have a meal with protein, veggies, some starch and more than likely some fat from cooking oil and there you have it! You’ve built an ideal meal for fat loss.
Get creative with modifications
The above would be an ideal situation where you can pick and choose what you like from the menu and create your own meal. However, there are certainly times where you might find yourself a little stuck and there don’t seem to be many options as far as healthy meals go.
This is where you have to get a little creative!
Earlier this week I was at Six Flags and we decided to pop into Johnny Rocket’s for lunch. If you don’t know about Johnny Rocket’s, it’s a burger restaurant set up like a 1950’s diner. I love that placeJ. On the menu were burgers, chicken fingers, fries, onion rings and milkshakes. No salad option, no side of veggies. At their normal restaurants they do have those option, but at a theme park I guess less is more. It would be tough for someone on a fat loss diet to get a good, on target meal there. However, as we were waiting in line to order, I noticed one women with a burger wrapped in lettuce, no fries, no onion rings and she was sharing a milkshake with her husband. To me, this was the perfect solution: take the bread off, add a bit of veg and share a treat. A lettuce wrapped burger wasn’t on the menu and I honestly don’t think I’d have even thought to ask for it, but she asked and they delivered!
Remember that restaurants want to give you what you want to the best of their ability because they want you to come back and they want you to have good things to say about their business.
Asking for modifications can be a little nerve wracking if you’re doing it for the first time. Maybe you don’t want to ask too much of your server or been seen as ‘high maintenance’ but I mean…it’s their job to accommodate you as much as they can.
I worked at a Mexican restaurant in college and when particular customers would come in, we’d blend the salsa because they didn’t like chunks, we’d cook special chicken for one woman because she didn’t want it marinated and we’d use different cookware for people with allergies or intolerances. This is what restaurants do now more than ever with the increase of food allergies, so don’t be afraid to ask! The majority of restaurants are happy to modify their menu for you. Again, they want your business, even if that means an extra few steps in the cooking process.
Tap into your fullness cues
When you’re out to dinner it’s really easy to get distracted by conversation and all that’s going on around you because let’s face it, the whole point of going out to dinner is to enjoy yourself, your company and a good meal, right? While I of course want you to do exactly that, it’s also important to stay aware of how you’re feeling.
In order to feel fullness, we have to slow down. We have to take breaks during meals and notice how our bodies are feeling. Put your fork down between bites and swallow your last bite before putting another in your mouth. Chew your food well and enjoy the food. Once the rumbling of your hungry tummy starts going away, ask yourself “how would I feel if I kept eating?” and be honest with yourself. If you’d still be hungry in 15 minutes, keep eating. If you’d be uncomfortably full if you kept eating, put the fork down and get the rest to go. There’s no need to finish your entire plate in one sitting. Slowww down and enjoy your food. That clean plate club membership you had as a kid has expired. You’re an adult now and you’re not being forced to finish everything on your plate like you might have been when you were younger. If you’re feeling satisfied simply pack the rest up to go and you have lunch for tomorrow!
So let’s recap:
In order to stay on target with your fat loss goals when you’re going out to eat:
- Focus on protein, veggies and consider your starches. Create a well-balanced meal based on what the restaurant has available.
- Modify your order. Remember to ask for any modification you’d like. You can remove bread from sandwiches, order dressing and sauces on the side or ask for no cheese or mayo.
- Tap into your hunger and fullness cues. Stay mindful throughout the meal about how you’re feeling hunger-wise. Ask yourself how you would feel if you kept eating and decide if it would be worth it go keep going or to take the rest home. Also remember…you don’t have to finish your plate!
And that it! You’re ready for the weekend ahead! Enjoy a meal out and let me know how you do!!
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