Eating out can be a worrying thing for many people new to fitness. Finding a restaurant that caters to our needs can be troublesome and even if we do go to one, the tendency and temptation to overeat can be overwhelming. As a result, many of us (myself included for the longest period of time) shun the idea of eating out in fear of it being a disaster assuming we're are forever condemned to a life of home cooked meals.
However, the truth is, going out to eat is a huge part of socializing and building relationships that shouldn't be ignored or allowed to hamper your life. If you are willing to do a bit of planning and change your perspective of things. I believe eating out can be a part of your daily diet. Here are my top 5 tips/guidelines to eating out.
1.Try not to let yourself get too hungry when eating out
My cardinal rule when eating out and even when shopping for food is to not to let myself get too hungry, because I know I have a huge appetite and if left to my own devices, there's a good chance I'd over-order, overeat or even overbuy food. Portion control which is incredibly important becomes hard and in our desperate need to satisfy our hunger, our senses can get the better of us. So, don't let it get there, give yourself a small snack before you head out, preferably something filling (anything high in fiber or protein will usually do the trick).
2.Plan what you want to eat in advance
If you are heading out with friends and family try to find out what the restaurant's menu is like and take it from there. The food there doesn't suit you? Then politely keep your portions small. When given a choice where to eat be sure to voice out your opinion, have a plan in mind what you want to order before you even head out. If I'm hanging out at the mamak, I'll almost always get the tandoori chicken. Chinese hawker stall? Chicken breast rice it is. Dining at a restaurant? Steak it is. But, what if in some cases It's impossible to plan ahead at least without being a pain? Well, then bring on my next point...
3. Adjust you earlier meals and exercise timing to prepare yourself
If I know that I'm going to be eating out and my options are unclear, I make sure from the start of the day that I'm either already in a caloric deficit from a good workout or even fasted cardio (some might disagree saying this is an ineffective way to do cardio but bear in mind the idea is to get the cardio out the way early). This not only creates a caloric buffer but also helps push my meals slightly later so I feel a bit a more full (and self controlled) by the time I'm ready for my meal out.
4. Watch the drinks, try to stick to plain water
I've mentioned this before, but one of my favorite tips to tame my immediate hunger should it arise is to drink plain water before a meal. With zero calories in it and the ability to act as a pallet cleanser. Plain water is almost always my top choice for any beverage when eating out. If you are used to ordering drinks at any restaurant try getting used to just getting plain water and you'd be surprised what a difference it will make.
5. Remember why you are eating out.
Ultimately, remember this. Chances are the main reason you are eating out and enduring the slight inconvenience is to spend time and company with people you are eating with. So focus on them and less on the food. Don't be a pain to people by being all nitty-gritty about the calories and macros of eating out as it would ruin the experience of socializing which is the reason why you are eating out in the first place.