Initially when I first started losing weight, I was quite neurotic when it came to eating out. It was like an inner fear that one meal out would make me pile back all the pounds. On the day, I’d have only Ryvita, salad, fruit and egg white omelettes and then order something ‘safe’ like Penne Arrabiata. In fact, I really owe credit to my friends and family for a) putting up with me and b) always making sure I was fine with the restaurant choice (i.e. if there were enough ‘healthy’ options for me to choose from).
Looking back, I realise how silly I was. Not only did it make eating out something I dreaded, it also turned something pleasurable into a miserable experience. Fortunately those days are long gone and I hope this post will be somewhat useful to others. Trust me, eating out doesn’t have to be unhealthy nor loaded with calories. As long as your cautious, you can easily eat out regularly without feeling guilty. Here are some tips from experience:
- Eat a snack: I think much of this is influenced by my upbringing in Nigeria- I remember my dad always eating some sort of ‘small chop’ before he’d start getting ready for dinner. However, I don’t know if our reasoning behind a pre-dinner snack match. Even if my stomach isn’t necessarily ‘growling’ before lunch/dinner out, I always make it a point to eat a light snack beforehand. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did once the bread basket comes around. It’s one thing to pass up on the free bread on the table whilst everyone else is happily munching away but it’s another thing to pass it up when you feel famished. That being said, I do love freshly baked crusty bread and do eat a piece or 2 occasionally. Just stay clear of the olive oil- the balsamic vinegar will more than moist up your roll
- Try and get some exercise in on the day: The satisfaction from working up a good sweat will really make you feel like you deserve your meal. Maybe it’s just me but a workout always makes my food taste that much better!
- Alternate drinks: If you are drinking wine/alcohol with your meal, try and alternate with a glass of water in between each drink. Although coming from a non-drinker, I’m sure this is much easier said than done 😉
And two of the biggies:
- Be picky: You are a paying customer and hence you’re entitled to make alterations to whatever you order: potatoes without butter, salad with the dressing on the side, chicken/fish with the sauce served separately, use as little oil as possible, etc. If you have friends like mine, you will certainly get a few eyes rolling/laughs but after all, what are friends for?? I do sometimes feel like a nightmare customer but then I realise that nightmare or not, I’m paying at the end of the day. And unless you are eating fast food where food is pre-made, most restaurants are happy to adhere to your needs. Just one piece of advice, a smile goes a LONG way- butter up your waiter, not your bread roll!
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you can’t splurge once in a while, then what’s the point? Just try not to make it a regular occurrence. Sometimes eating and drinking whatever you fancy is good for your soul. Social events are supposed to be fun, and in my opinion, eating and drinking is definitely part of the experience! 😀