How to Eat Out and Lose 50 Pounds a Year (or Gain!)

The world of fast food and restaurants is a minefield, with caloric nuclear bombs everywhere you turn. But, with a bit of work, you can walk through that minefield and lose weight instead of gaining it!

Consider these selections when dining out for a day to lose 50 pounds a year (or more!).

  • Breakfast: Egg McMuffin and coffee at McDonald’s.
  • Lunch: Cheeseburger and Diet Coke at McDonald’s.
  • Dinner: Filet Mignon, grilled vegetables and garlic mashed at Outback.

This would add up to about 1,200 calories. If you are a woman 5'6" with average activity habits (a metabolic rate of about 2000), you’ll lose over 50 pounds a year eating like that consistently!

However, consider what would happen if you weren’t paying attention and made some slight changes:

  1. Sausage Biscuit with egg and an OJ instead of the Egg McMuffin and coffee.
  2. Quarter Pounder with cheese and a regular Coke instead of Cheeseburger and Diet Coke.
  3. New York Strip, chopped salad and loaded mashed instead of the filet, grilled veggies and garlic mashed.

They look and feel almost the same, but with the second example, you’d be at 2,700 calories and gaining 50 pounds a year instead of losing them! You’d be 100 pounds overweight in 2 years making mistakes like that! I know, because I was over 100 pounds overweight for years until I learned what to do to correct things.

I’m the author of The Anderson Method, explaining the method I used to lose 140 pounds after years of dieting failure and keep it off for 30 years. I discovered the solution as a behavior therapist and I’ve been teaching it to others ever since.

For a population facing an exploding obesity epidemic, the world of fast food, restaurants and convenience food is a minefield, with caloric nuclear bombs everywhere you turn. It’s a miracle we all aren’t over 600 pounds.

Consider this: Did you know that you could gain 100 extra pounds (!!) in four years by overeating as little as one latte per day? It’s true! If you are out of balance, over your metabolic rate consistently by 250 calories per day (an average latte), you’ll gain 25 pounds a year, or 100 pounds in four!

The science is in. Our body burns calories each moment we are alive, awake or asleep. Our organs, muscles and cells metabolize fuel each second we live and breathe. There’s no mystery in knowing why we gain or lose weight. It’s a matter of the energy or calorie balance. Eat 3,500 more calories than you burn and you store them as fat and gain a pound.

Most of my clients who are obese first got that way by being only a little out of balance, creeping up on the scale 10 pounds per year. That amounts to eating only 100 calories more per day than you need, the number of calories in an apple or banana! How can you avoid eating too many calories, and way more than 100, with the way we eat in this country?

When you think about it, with the way food is pushed at us, it’s a miracle that we aren’t all morbidly obese! Of course, 70 percent of us actually are clinically obese! A Big Mac is 563 calories. A Cinnabon Classic Roll is 879. How hard do you think it is to go over a 2,000-calorie budget when breakfast at Denny’s can be 1,000 calories and lunch at McDonald’s can easily be 1400 or more? One of the shrimp dishes at Ruby Tuesday’s is 1,475 calories! They have a salad that’s over 1,100!

How to attain and maintain a proper weight automatically even when eating out.

The secret to permanent weight loss is in creating new programming — habits you can live with and enjoy that will produce the weight control you want — habits that will become automatic. It’s like getting addicted to gratifying undereating instead of overeating. For this to happen, these conditions must be met:

  • The plan must allow the foods you want to eat for the rest of your life. You need to learn how to eat, not diet. It does no good to lose weight by denying yourself what you know you’ll eat in the future. All you’ll do is gain it back and then some, when you go back to what you like.
  • The plan must be a pattern of eating that achieves the caloric values needed for the desired weight. Believe me, there is a way to create a behavior pattern that includes the food you like and hits the right caloric targets at the same time.
  • You must use methods of behavioral training to install these habits so that they become the new preferred and unconscious behavior. It’s a matter of using behavioral science instead of simple will power.

Suck it up

For years while I was overweight and obese, I kept looking for ways to lose weight that were easy. I avoided anything that sounded hard, like paying attention to the calories. Or, I’d look for ways to get someone else to do the work and make me successful. That’s a non-starter.

I get clients who think learning to control their weight should not be as much work as what they need to do to succeed in business. That’s a big mistake. You’ll never be successful with weight control until you decide controlling your weight is top priority and you’re willing to work as hard or harder than what you do in graduate school or on the job.

Get started

All restaurant chains with 20 or more units must now post the caloric values in what they serve. Most have that info on their website too. Restaurants who want our business will provide that info even if they don’t have 20 units.

We need to be like the people who have succeeded in permanent weight loss and are studied by the National Weight Control Registry. (I’m one of them!) They do not put anything in their mouths without knowing the caloric value. Eating without knowing the caloric cost is like charging up stuff you like at the mall without looking at the price tags — disastrous.

Start by finding out how many calories are in the foods you eat. You’ll be shocked. Then you can learn what to do next.

You can switch from my example of eating out to gain 50 pounds a year to losing 50 pounds this year. Believe me, it’s worth it!

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.

Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on March 29, 2017.

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