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Eating Out When On A Diet

by Niamh De Brún

Hey guys, happy days.
I have been out socialising the past two weekends which always leads to eating out the day after.
Also, as we are not big drinkers we like to treat ourselves most weekends to a nice lunch/ dinner.
I am in a ‘calorie deficit’ (eating less than I am burning in a day) until I reach my body fat percentage goal.
I don’t like using the word ‘diet’ as I feel there is a common disbelief that the word is associated with being restricted and means you can’t have ‘bad’ or less ‘healthy’ foods.
This is not the case. If you follow me on instagram you will see that I have such a sweet tooth and I have to have snacks for night time munching in front of the telly.

1 Plan ahead and look up the menu online
If you know you’re eating out on a Saturday for example, look up the menu online before going.
Most places now have menus online. The places we tend to go to don’t usually have nutritional information on menus which can be annoying but you just have to work with it.
I find the NutritionIx website (they also have an app) good for creating a ‘nutrition facts label’ that includes the macros (protein, carbs, fats).
It is getting more common for places to have less calorie-dense options on the menu but if not, you can still eat there and enjoy your meal.

2 The day you are eating out
Now that you know you are eating out on a Saturday night, eat lightly that day.
If you are like me and track your macros, try get 70% of your protein in during the day and save your carbs and fats for your meal.
If you just track calories, eat light foods throughout the day and ‘bank’ your calories for your meal.
When I am eating out, I stick to turkey rashers, SKYR yogurt, a protein shake, an omelette for my breakfast/day time snacks and maybe a salad for lunch with a slice of Brennan’s “Be good wholemeal bread” as it is only 60 calories per slice (Aldi also do their own version) and some lighter than light mayo (only 10 calories per 15g).
One tip, do not starve yourself the day you are eating out because we all know we make ‘bad’ decisions when we are hungry.
I know I do anyways.
Another option is to reduce your calorie intake on the days leading up to your meal out.
I don’t like doing this though as I gym a lot and I am already in a calorie deficit so I don’t want to be left hungry because I get agitated and hangry.
If you eat something like two turkey rashers or a yogurt before leaving to head to the restaurant this will help too as you won’t be as hungry.
It is said that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to signal to our gut that we have eaten and that we may be ‘fuller’ than we think.
When in a restaurant and ordering a starter, a main and a dessert, keep this in mind.
You may eat your starter and be fuller than you think as your brain hasn’t signalled to your gut yet.

3 Ordering from the menu
Protein is the most filling macro out there so try to order a dish with some protein in it, examples include chicken, turkey, venison, salmon, prawns, hake, steak, and beef.
Pasta dishes with chicken for example don’t tend to have a whole lot of meat in them so don’t be shy to ask for ‘extra’ chicken if you are ordering a pasta dish.
It might cost you a few extra euros but it will help make you feel fuller.
There can be a lot of hidden calories in deep fried or pan friend dishes so be aware of that.
Steamed or grilled meat is always a safe option as there usually aren’t ‘hidden’ calories.
Sometimes you might think you are being ‘healthy’ by ordering a salad, but be aware of the calories in the bacon lardons, the cheese on top and the croutons.
Opt for sauce on the side of your dish so you can monitor the amount you are using. If there is a whole wheat option on the pasta dish perhaps opt for that as it has a lower Glycemic Index than white counterparts.
Lower GI foods are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels.

4 Bulk up on your dish with veg
Vegetables are a great way of bulking up a meal and are very low in calories when steamed or boiled.
Personally, I have never been a huge fan of vegetables. However, I read in one of Mike Matthews books that you can learn to like something if you force yourself to eat it.
I have started adding vegetables into my daily food routine and it is slowly growing on me. Also – all the extra micronutrients are doing wonders for my skin.

5 Alcohol
I do not drink a lot, nor do I drink wine, so not having a drink with my dinner isn’t a big deal.
However, I do know people who enjoy wine or an alcoholic beverage with their meal.
Try drink water with your meal or opt for the ‘zero calorie’ minerals.
A 330ml can of coke has 140 calories, water has 0.

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