Weekends and eating out can be “challenging” when you are trying to lose weight … let’s be honest, it’s hard to even just maintain your current weight, right?

It’s something that my clients struggle with .. and I do too!

Sometimes do you even wonder whether there’s really any point trying or even focusing on your goals when it seems like such a mine field navigating or avoiding food choices and particular foods.

Speaking of food choices, could it be possible that with all the food options available to us, at our fingertips even, that we need to acknowledge that with food being so accessible we might actually be eating too much? Oh the horror!!

Not only does it seem there’s food everywhere but trying to stick to your paleo, gluten free, sugar free dairy free, vegetarian diet while eating out or with friends and family can be a nightmare! There’s just so many rules to what you should and shouldn’t eat … but that is a whole other story.

Before I continue, I would like to cover a few points …

Firstly, I would like to mention that I don’t like the word “diet”. I prefer not to use it with my clients. Whilst it really is an innocent word describing what one eats on a regular basis, I feel that it conjures up too many negative feelings and thoughts. I certainly don’t like eating to be a negative experience or to feel deprived or hungry. I just love my food too much!

Secondly, just to let you know, I don’t follow any particular dietary approach ( notice I did not say fad diet ). Personally, I don’t believe we need to follow a particular way of eating ( other than a healthy balanced eating routine ) unless there is an underlying medical or ethical issue. Please note, I am a Personal Trainer and not a dietician or nutritionist, nor do I have any allergies or intolerances. My choices are based purely on my own trial and error and the advice and guidance of real, qualified dieticians and nutritionists.  I do, however, follow bits and pieces of various diets and I certainly eat paleo, gluten free, sugar free if I happen to feel like it or it sounds good.

OK, now I’ve covered that … Weekends and eating out. It doesn’t matter whether it is at the latest cult restaurant or your friend’s or family’s house, it can create stressful feelings if you are trying to stick to a healthy, balanced eating plan. It seems like it’s here that we come unstuck because it is possible to follow a healthy, balanced eating plan even when you are eating out at restaurants and other people’s places. You just need to be mindful and remember not to be too hard on yourself, or others, because not everyone will be following your particular dietary regime.

I say this because as much as I’d like to, it’s just not always possible to control what is going on in other people’s kitchens. If I’m out at a restaurant, I’m not going to try to control the way the chef whips up his / her meals because quite frankly, I’m there so I don’t have to cook myself. It’s not worth the bother of creating a hassle, I just want to enjoy a meal I haven’t had to cook! I will let go of the need to control and will allow myself to be mindful of my choices.

The same goes when I’m at a friends or family’s place. I’d rather not offend or create any issues by telling them I don’t eat this or that ( unless of course as I mentioned before it’s a medical or ethical concern ). I would rather enjoy their company than tell them about my latest healthy eating regime .. no one wants to hear that! Again, I will just acknowledge that I’m not in charge that night, and move on. Tomorrow is a new day! One night will not ruin all my hard work if I’m being mindful.

So, what can you do to stay on track over the weekend, or when you have to eat out?

If you are at a restaurant, check online so you can plan what to eat ahead of time. I do this sometimes, mostly because it takes me forever to decide what to eat! Some places these days even have the nutritional info on the site, so checking before you go will give you a chance to assess what meal choice will be the best if you are trying to pick the healthiest option or sticking to a calorie count.
Nearly all restaurants now have a salad option, which can be deceiving but if you ask for sauces or dressings on the side it can be a good choice. Similarly, most restaurants offer seasonal steamed vegetables. Lean protein and steamed veg with sauce on the side is something that is easily accommodated and is usually on the menu somewhere.

Remember the last time you went out for dinner and didn’t eat for nearly the whole day just so that you could save on calories? When you arrived for dinner you were completely starving, ate heaps and then felt like you needed to undo the button on your pants … sound familiar.

A little trick so that you don’t feel hungry and try to eat everything is to eat before you go. A bit backhanded you say? Why eat before you go out to eat?

Managing your hunger, so that you don’t gorge means that you can eat mindfully. Make sure that you eat your normal breakfast, lunch and snacks. If you are feeling particularly hungry snack on an apple or a little tub of yogurt before you go. This way, your hunger is a little bit tamed, you can recognise whether you really are hungry and you can make an informed choice on what will be best to eat. You don’t have to eat all the food!

Another trick to stop yourself from eating too much and getting that awful bloated feeling is to keep healthy snacks on hand when you are out and about. When you really feel that you need something, you can grab a quick healthy snack rather than reaching for a less than healthy snack and eating too much of it.
Grabbing an apple, trail mix or even a protein bar will stop you over eating at your next meal and feeling bloated and icky. Apples and trail mix are my go to snacks, although I’ve been known to overeat on more than one occasion too!

Do you struggle with deciding what to eat? Or you know that the portion sizes are just huge? Share your meal. I do this often with desserts because I know that I’ll eat the whole lot and feel so full and bloated after. I then get to have a taste of the dessert and satisfy my sweet tooth without going too crazy. This is a good option too when it comes to entrees. A little tasting plate shared means you get to try a couple of things and enjoy the rest of your meal also. Having an entree as your main meal is totally OK too!

This one is big .. avoid filling up on carbohydrates. Think bread, chips or even cheese and crackers. These choices will fill you up and leave you feeling bloated, and are high in calories. If you are including carbs in your diet and I do recommend that you do, then it might be best to save them for home when you are in control of the types of carbs you are consuming.

Keep these in mind when on the weekends and when you are eating out.

Sometimes you aren’t in control of what food is on offer and that’s OK. What you can control is what you eat before and what you eat after. You can also control how much you eat. You are not going to miss out on anything .. there will always be another dessert.

Be mindful of the choices you are making.

There will always be more food .. on another day, at the grocery store, at another restaurant, next time you go out.  You don’t have to eat everything that is on the menu or even on the food table at a BBQ.  If you like, make up a “tasting plate” with a mouthful of each option so that you can try it.  Or choose your most favourite thing and really savour and enjoy it.

It is also quite OK to enjoy your food and eating out, especially if you are with friends and family. If your food or what you are eating is stressing you out or making certain food choices is making you anxious, then you are doing it wrong!

What are your tricks or tips you use for sticking to your healthy eating over the weekend and when you are eating out?

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