From business lunches to braais and coffee shop visits to Friday night take aways. Eating out seems to be more popular than eating in as part of our modern lifestyles! Eating out is a nice treat, a great way to socialise or a convenient option when you don’t have time to cook a meal … But the kilojoules, fat, sugar and sodium can add up quickly! It certainly is possible to dine out and still dash the kilos, as long as you make some smarter choices most of the time.
BEFORE eating out:
- When possible, go to places that make it easier for you to order healthier options.
- It helps to decide what you would like to eat before getting to a restaurant to help with ‘wont power’ as you peruse the menu.
- Don’t go out ravenous as it may encourage overeating – eat a smart snack such as a fresh fruit, yoghurt or handful of nuts before hand.
- Watch out for drinking alcohol on an empty stomach; wait for the meal to arrive before enjoying your glass of wine.
- Downsize it. Most marketplace food and drink portions are distorted and now exceed standard serving sizes. Pick nutrition over value. Order from the starter selections or split a meal with your friend or colleague.
- Avoid the bread and rolls that are offered as you arrive unless you would prefer to eat this in place of your starch at your meal.
- Preparation is key. Order foods that have been steamed, baked, broiled, grilled, stir-fried or roasted. The hidden fat and calories add up quickly when food is fried, crumbed or served with sauces. Read the menu carefully to ascertain the preparation methods used.
- Ask for the nutrition information of menu choices or check out the restaurant’s website ahead of time to look for healthier options.
- Compensate by skipping parts of the meal you like less. Have an “I can eat that food any time” approach.
- No matter where you are eating, remember to fill half of your plate with colourful foods from nature’s colour palette – salad and/or vegetables. The meat, fish or chicken portion should be about the size of the palm of your hand and the starch (including the bread and pudding) should be the size of your fist.
- Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of what is in our mouths.
- Engage in conversation and stop eating while doing so, this will help you to pace your meal.
- Salads are generally a good choice. A salad should not be drowned in dressing – only drizzle on enough to enhance the flavours of the salad and use ones that are fat or oil free such as flavoured vinegars or lemon juice with seasoning.
- Sauces are usually high in fat or sugar. Order them on the side and only drizzle the sauce over the food.
- Omit the starch with your main meal (bread, potato, chips, pasta) if you choose to have a starter or a pudding.
- Fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are very energy dense. Rather have water as the beverage of choice with meals.
- Listen to your body. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
- Make sure you send your plate away so that you are not tempted to eat more just because the food is still in front of you.
- Be careful of dessert denial as it can be counter productive. Most people feel a dessert rounds off a good meal. However, desserts are high in fat and kilojoules. Rather share a dessert between two to four people to satisfy the need for a sweet ending.
- Remember that healthy eating and weight loss is about enjoying your food and balancing food choices over time. So if you overindulge at one meal, try to make healthier choices at your next meals.