Whether it’s a restaurant meal with friends, a dinner party with your colleagues or a wedding, it may be difficult to know what to eat when eating outside of the home. Friends might order cocktails for the whole table, the food options might be limited, or the food is so tasty it’s hard to stop eating!
Additionally, restaurant meals can be larger than meals served at home and contain more calories, meaning we may eat more than we intended.
You probably don’t want to miss a wedding, graduation or the chance to welcome a new baby into the family. No matter what your health or fitness goals, there are ways to stay on track while also being a part of events that only come along once or twice in a lifetime. Don’t skip events that you’d regret not being a part of years down the road.
The good news is, a meal out every now and again likely won’t make much difference to our health in the long run. However, with the average Australian eating out two to three times per week, it’s worth considering if eating out is impacting health and weight loss goals.
Balance eating out by having a lighter lunch the following day or go for a long walk after a meal out.
Although we can make healthier food choices when eating out, choosing to go out less often for a meal and making food at home instead, will usually be the healthiest option for our health, weight and our budget.
To make choices that support your goals, you’ll have to evaluate each social opportunity that comes your way on a case-by-case basis. Learn how to plan ahead can make it easier to make healthier decisions when having a meal away from home here:
You can look up the menu ahead of time and choose what to eat beforehand. Trying to choose what to eat in a busy restaurant while being distracted by fellow diners and wait staff can be overwhelming and might result in choosing a less healthy dish.
If the social event is at a friend’s house, bring a dish from home. Not only will the host likely appreciate the gesture, it means there is a healthy option to enjoy.
Pay extra attention to feelings of hunger and fullness during the meal. When feelings of satisfaction replace feelings of hunger, aim to stop eating. Don’t be afraid to ask to take any leftover food home to enjoy at another meal.
Don’t arrive at the restaurant or social event too hungry. It can be easier to overeat when feeling very hungry, so be sure to have a snack at least 1-2 hours before the event if needed.
Choose sparkling water, or herbal tea for a lighter drink option when you're out. Some places now also offer non-alcoholic beverages if you want something a bit different.
If it’s a buffet, or there is an option to plate the meal yourself, aim to fill half the plate with vegetables or salad, a quarter of the plate with protein, and a quarter of the plate with carbohydrates. See our balanced plate guide here for more information. Excuse yourself and discard your plate and utensils after eating to signal to your brain that the meal is over.
Once you arrive at the affair, spend your time greeting other guests, getting involved in lively conversations and simply enjoying the company of your friends and family. With your focus on the people rather than the food, you may even meet someone new and exciting.
When it is time to eat or you are truly feeling hungry, take a quick perusal of the available fare. Here are some quick tips to managing a healthy balanced plate.
By doing so, you allow more control over how much can be added to the dish.
Sweet tooth? Choose a fruit based dessert, or share a dessert with a friend.
Remember, no one will ever force you to eat or drink or do something you don’t want to. Triggers, temptations, pressure and expectations will always exist. But, if you remember that you always have a choice and you are entitled to do everything in your power to feel how you want to feel, you will make the best decision for yourself in any given situation.
There may be times when you want to eat your favourite food for pleasure and not worry about how healthy it is. That’s ok!
If you are eating healthily most of the time, it’s ok to enjoy your favourite meal every now and again. Simply enjoy it mindfully, with no guilt, and get back into the swing of things at your next meal.
If you’re looking for some extra support in your approach to weight loss, Rosemary Health can help. We have doctor guided weight loss programs that consider your lifestyle, goals and your approach to food and wellbeing. Learn more about our doctor-guided weight loss program.