10 Guaranteed Easy To Follow Tips For Eating Out On A Diet
Just the thought of having to be on a diet and going out to eat or bar hopping with friends, probably evokes images of Indiana Jones (in Raiders of the Lost Ark) running from that huge boulder. Except in your version, you trip-up and are flattened by another failed diet! It doesn’t have to be that way!
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I love food, eating, going out to interesting restaurants and exploring exotic cuisine. The problem I had, and I suspect many of you share, is that these wonderful experiences just compounded my problem of weight gain.
Going into a hostile food/drink jungle without some sort of goal, strategy or tools and just winging it might seem very “Indiana Jones” of you, but Dr. Jones always has a goal (get the goods and get out alive), a strategy (always break the rules) and finally, tools (his whip and a pistol for backup).
3 years ago, lumbering through my life 35lbs overweight, exhausted, self-conscious and a little befuddled, I was the opposite of Dr. Jones. I would have been one of those impaled skeletons outside the Temple of Doom. The camera would pan past my remains propped up on a stake, jaw open ready to receive food. Dr. Jones would look at me bemused, mop his brow and turn his full attention to his goal, moving forward with steely determination.
Why such a hellish fate? Well at 48 years old, I still hadn’t figured out how to eat properly and get enough exercise to maintain my wellness. There were many things in my life that I had figured out; how to take awesome pictures, be a technology whiz and on a good day, paddle down whitewater rapids with my sons, and stay “in” my kayak.
For all those activities, I have been able to figure out goals, strategies and tools. When it came to eating and exercising enough to maintain a healthy weight, I was clueless!
So what does Indiana Jones and whitewater kayaking have to do with 10 Guaranteed Easy To Follow Survival Tips For Enjoying Eating Out On A Diet? Let’s take a look… Here are some goals, strategies and tips that will make you the Indiana Jones of the culinary and spirits jungle.
Set a Goal:
Enjoy eating and drinking but stay on track to lose weight.
Plan ahead. Be knowledgeable. Act in YOUR best interest.
Break the rules. Hack your food/beverages. Mix things up.
If you know you are going out to a restaurant or a bar in the evening, you can plan ahead to make sure you can enjoy yourself and stick to your goal, all without stressing out.
Tip 1. Hop on your smartphone and check out the restaurant or bars’ online menu. Get a rough idea of what they have and what you are going to want to eat. If there is a choice between fried foods, heaps of pasta swimming in cream sauce or a tasty hunk of grilled of chicken, seafood, fish or a straight burger (with one or no buns), clearly the better choice is the less adulterated food.
Tip 2. Plan your day and your eating so that you have a lots of calories in the bank to spend and aren’t starving when you hit the town. When my wife and I plan to go out on the weekend, I try to push out breakfast into brunch and still eat a regular or slightly larger meal. Then a filling but low-calorie snack in the afternoon will hold off my appetite until we walk into the restaurant or bar. I start with water and then eat items that will satiate me and help me stick to my goal.
Tip 3. If you feel satiated, you will have the capacity to resist foods that don’t fit with your Goals. Do you know that you are going into “hostile” territory where you will be weakened or disarmed? I recently went to a dinner party at a friend’s house and they served bacon and phyllo pastry wrapped hor d’oeuvres for 3 hours before dinner was served — delicious but deadly! Solution: Eat part of your dinner before you go by grilling up a hunk of delicious chicken, seafood, fish or a veggie dish that is high in protein/fiber and which will keep you satiated through any temptations. When the real food comes out, you can finish up your dinner without standing out.
Hidden Treasure Troves of Calories in Your Cocktails Courtesy of FatSecret.com
Tip 4. Do the Research! Not all alcoholic beverages are created equal. By making smart choices, you can have a great time and stick to your goal too! Here is a simple rule to follow; the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calorie count. By choosing light beers, wine spritzers and simple cocktails with low calorie mixers (soda water or diet sodas) and even vodkas that aren’t sweetened but infused with flavors, you can drink and still stick to your goal. Do a little research online and find some solutions that work for your personal tastes.
Tip 5. Drinking water can help suppress your appetite and alcohol intake. What else is essential to life but doesn’t have calories? Use water as a tool to help you feel full. Drink lots of water before you hit the restaurant or bar and your appetite won’t be foremost on your mind. Drink plenty of water during your meal to keep your snacking of calorie ladened hor d’oeuvres and bread to a minimum. If you are out drinking, start your night out with a couple of diet soda/soda waters so that your thirst is quenched.
Tip 6. Reverse the order of your evening out; eat first and drink afterward. Last time I checked, there weren’t hard and fast rules about the order in which you must enjoy your night out. In fact, you will drink more on an empty stomach and then eat more because the calories in your drinks won’t satisfy your hunger and the alcohol will lower your inhibitions (result: your goal and strategies go out the window). Tell your friends straight up, “I’m hungry, I need to eat now.” Your goal will be met and everyone will have a good time.
Tip 7. Diluting your cocktails can help you consume less calories and alcohol, plus save you money. Cocktails, like most things nowadays are being super-sized with calories, alcohol content and price. Some of the creative cocktails like the Zombie can weigh in at 371cal or the White Russian at 257cal (see more here) . If you have three of those, you have basically downed a really good meals’ worth of calories. The solution is to have a glass of soda water or a diet soda chaser with which you can cut and extend your alcoholic beverages. Have a “mocktail” in-between your cocktails and drink them slowly, that way you can still fit in while sticking to your goal.
Tip 8. When ordering food in your favorite establishment, become a food practical-ologist. That isn’t a spelling error, I just made it up to describe the science of making everyday practical food choices, that are a part of reinventing your lifestyle. They go something like this; “Is that [food stuff/beverage] worth it? Can I find something else I will enjoy that will help me reach my goal?” Let’s take a simple example; a Five Guys Bacon Cheese Burger weighs in at 920cal. Go bunless and it cuts the calories down to 660cal which is a savings of 260cal. Although this might seem draconian at first, let me remind you, so is a life burdened with being overweight and declining wellness. Get over it! Very soon this will become a natural and a comfortable part of your lifestyle.
Tip 9. The simple act of packing an Emergency Snack, can be a lifesaver as you run out of work on your way to meet friends at the local restaurant or bar. It puts you in control of your hunger instead stressing out about not meeting your goal. My go to snack is roasted unsalted almonds. These little critters are a delicious crunchy burst of toasty flavor and if I eat one at a time and take my time chewing, a 1/8 cup serving or around 12 almonds (90cal) can satiate me for a long time. Buy yourself some sturdy small tupperware type containers, fill them with your favorite snacks and then pack them at the bottom of whatever bag, case or pocket you can get to in an emergency. Find what works for you and remember there are a world of choices. Check out some suggestions here and here.
Tip 10. Know your foe; “Everything at a restaurant is 10 times more decadent than what you make at home,” — Adam Roberts, author of the book “Secrets of The Best Chefs.” “Use shitty vodka in your well as it makes the most profit. “If your crowd doesn’t care, you shouldn’t care,” says Kate Gerwin of the bar Imbibe. Restaurants and bars are businesses and they exist to make money serving your pleasures. Your health, savings account balance and weight-loss goals are not their concern but they are yours!
It is a jungle out there, with foes who’s interests don’t align with your goals, peer pressure, old habits, many delicious temptations and weakened resolve. By having a clear goal, practical strategies and familiar tools, you have a greater chance of not ending up as an extra in the reboot of the Indiana Jones franchise (I am sure there will be one!).
Does it Work?
Within 6 months of exercising my inner “Dr. Jones” I had lost 30 lbs. If you came out to dinner with me now and saw what I ate, how much I enjoyed it, you wouldn’t have a clue that I was subconsciously making choices that aligned with my goal of enjoying food and drink while staying on track to maintain my weight.
Although these 10 tips might seem a little daunting at first reading, I assure you that if you take one at a time and put them into practice, they will all fall in line, giving you to the tools to relax and enjoy your lifestyle.