TEN TIPS FOR EAT­ING OUT don’t let restau­rant meals de­rail your plans

Whether it’s for con­ve­nience or a treat, putting up the ‘kitchen closed’ sign at home doesn’t have to mean all your healthy eat­ing plans go out the win­dow.

Weight Watchers Magazine (Australia) - - Contents -

You’re go­ing out to eat. Hur­rah! No cook­ing, no wash­ing up, plenty of choice and, pre­sum­ably, fun to be had with friends or fam­ily. But if you’re any­thing like me (and for your sake, I re­ally hope you’re not), you’ll have made the fol­low­ing mis­take too many times to have it de­scribed as a ‘rookie er­ror’.

You skimp on break­fast, merely sniff at lunch and pass on af­ter­noon tea be­cause you’re ‘sav­ing your­self for tonight’. By the time you reach the restau­rant, you’re ready to eat your own arm, let alone in­hale the bread bas­ket and or­der fries with ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing dessert, thank you very much.

So what’s the al­ter­na­tive? How can you eat out with­out un­do­ing all your hard work? Our ex­perts have come up with their top tips, tricks and ideas so you can still have your cake and eat it. >

1 PLAN YOUR STRAT­EGY

Re­search shows 80 per cent of us eat out at least once a month. Are you eat­ing out for con­ve­nience or a treat? If you need to grab some­thing with the kids af­ter soc­cer or it’s a work lunch, it’s for con­ve­nience, which means you can stick to the same Smart­points bud­get as at home. If it’s a treat, you might want to plan ahead so you can en­joy your­self. “Track­ing the meal you’ll have means you’ll stick to your plan,” says Nour Nazha, Weight Watch­ers Pro­gram and Nu­tri­tion Man­ager.

2. ASK TO SHARE

SHAR­ING MEANS YOU GET TO TASTE A LIT­TLE OF WHAT YOU FANCY WITH­OUT GO­ING OVERBOARD. “IF YOU’VE GONE EASY WITH YOUR MAIN, YOU CAN PROB­A­BLY SHARE A DESSERT, SO ASK FOR ONE POR­TION AND TWO SPOONS,” SAYS DI­ETI­TIAN JULIE GIL­BERT.

3 Snack and stay hy­drated

Take the edge off your hunger be­fore you go out with a small snack such as a small hand­ful of nuts and some raw vegie sticks. Then you won’t feel rav­en­ous when you get to the restau­rant and po­ten­tially sab­o­tage your­self.

Stay­ing hy­drated can help, too, says Leigh Sherry, ac­cred­ited ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of Smartlife Health. “I al­ways make sure I have plenty of wa­ter with my meals, too,” she says. Re­search backs this up, with a US study find­ing those who drank a large glass of wa­ter be­fore meals lost more weight than those who didn’t.

4 OR­DER FIRST

You might start out with good in­ten­tions, but by the time ev­ery­one around you has or­dered, the devil of fried food and creamy desserts that’s sit­ting on your shoul­der may have got the bet­ter of you. “It’s all too easy to be swayed by what other peo­ple are do­ing,” says GP Dr David Ross-smith. So stay on the safe side by or­der­ing first. And then block your ears.

5. KNOW THE MENU

WHETHER YOU’RE IN CHARGE OF THE RESTAU­RANT CHOICE OR NOT, LOG ON TO THE WEB­SITE BE­FORE YOU GO TO CHECK OUT WHAT’S ON OF­FER. “ANY RE­SEARCH YOU DO IS GO­ING TO GIVE YOU A HEAD START ON MAK­ING HEALTHY CHOICES,” SAYS DR ROSS-SMITH. “IT’S FAR BET­TER TO DO SOME HOME­WORK THAN DE­CID­ING WHEN YOU’RE HUN­GRY AND UN­DER PRES­SURE TO PLACE YOUR OR­DER.”

6 Eat a rain­bow

It’s a good rule of thumb to or­der what you know are go­ing to be colour­ful dishes, says ac­cred­ited prac­tis­ing di­eti­tian Maria Packard. “You’ll usu­ally find that means they con­tain more veg­eta­bles, which will fill you up and con­tain valu­able nu­tri­ents. If half your plate is made up of ve­g­ies, you’re do­ing well.”

7 MAKE IT SMALL

“Opt for an en­tree or, if there’s noth­ing you fancy, ask for a smaller-sized ver­sion of the main you like the look of,” says Gil­bert. “That way you won’t overeat, be­cause restau­rant por­tions can be enor­mous and once it’s in front of you, it can be hard to stop pick­ing.”

8. ASK QUES­TIONS

“FIND OUT HOW THE DISH YOU WANT IS COOKED,” SAYS DR ROSSSMITH. “ASK AS MANY QUES­TIONS AS YOU NEED TO DE­TER­MINE WHETHER IT’S THE HEALTH­I­EST CHOICE FOR YOU.”

9. CHANGE YOUR MIND­SET

TRY TO THINK DIF­FER­ENTLY ABOUT EAT­ING OUT. WHEN YOU GO OUT FOR A MEAL, IN­STEAD OF THINK­ING ABOUT THE FOOD ON THE MENU, FO­CUS ON THE PEO­PLE YOU’RE CATCH­ING UP WITH – THE LAUGHS, THE FUN, THE COM­PANY AND THE LOVE. FILL UP ON THE OC­CA­SION, NOT THE FOOD.

10 Just say no

Stop­ping the bread bas­ket in its tracks, say­ing no to fries and re­quest­ing sauces come on the side – or not at all – are all good ways to make sure you stay on track, says Packard. “If it’s not there, you can’t be tempted by it. Fill up on sal­ads and steamed ve­g­ies so you feel sat­is­fied with­out the fat con­tent.” #

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