You have hit a point where you can make the right food choice. You are happily shopping around the outside aisles of the supermarket (think about it!) and getting clued up on all the right foods to stock up on. Your portions are under control and the cravings are at bay. You are doing GREAT! Then you receive a text from a friend:
"Fancy a meal out tomorrow night? Not seen you in ages"
At home there is an element of control. You are in your comfort zone and can cope in this environment. You have people around you to hold you back from the temptation of the kids sweet cupboard and if you are really struggling? Well you can just pop yourself up to bed.
But when you are out and have to make choices beyond your control this can be tricky. Suddenly there are no labels to check, family to moan to or telly for distraction. It is just you and the menu……
So here are some tips to stay on track when you are faced with this situation. It's going to happen, so you may as well be prepared!
DO NOT be afraid to order off menu
Just because it's written down, doesn’t mean you have to have it exactly as it is shown on the menu. I make a habit now of ordering a lean protein main (chicken or fish) and rather than having the potato-based side, I will ask them to replace it with extra vegetables. I can count on one hand in the past 4-5 years where I have ever had to make a fuss about this, and with the ever-growing need for restaurants to adapt their menus for food intolerances they will be well prepared for a small change.
Plan what to have in advance
For the most part, you can usually view what is on the menu before you go. I find that if you plan what to have, then half the battle has been fought. You are not sat there faced with hunger pangs looking at the most filling, sugary and starchy thing on the menu because your blood sugar is so low. You will be able to confidently order what you have set out to.
Ultimately you are out. You are being social and part of being social is enjoying the food, so don’t be too harsh on yourself when it comes to choices. If you have EARNED a treat then have it, but if you still need to be cautious it is best to bear the following in mind:
1. Try and avoid the complimentary starters (e.g. prawn crackers, poppadoms and bread) These are calories often "forgotten about" down the line when all you remember is the what you had for your main meal.
2. LIMIT alcohol. Make sure you order a jug of water for the table and ensure that for every alcoholic drink, you have the same in volume of water. This will not only aid digestion but will slow down the effects of alcohol making you less likely to give in to the more tempting foods! AND it will save on your calories.
3. Order a protein dish and a vegetable dish and avoid starchy carbohydrates such as potato dishes and white rice.
4. Opt for a "dry" dish to limit the amount of calorific sauces.
5. EAT SLOWLY. Again this will help with digestion and also make you aware how full you are so you don’t get that "stuffed" and bloated feeling.
6. If you fancy a pudding then have one but see if you can tempt your friends into SHARING one. This way you halve the calories and HALVE THE GUILT!
There will always be situations where you cannot plan and are left hungry with no food about. This makes it hard to make the right choices because the choices are limited! Convenience food doesn’t have to be bad. Take into account your surroundings and what is the BEST choices at the time.
Service stations are getting better and better and there will generally be fruit about. If none of this looks appealing then a yoghurt or a small pack of nuts will do. Remember you are just getting something to TIDE YOU OVER not a full meal, in which case you will find somewhere to eat and follow the guidelines in the previous section!
If you find yourself near a supermarket again fruit is the obvious option. Stick to the outside of the aisles and try and avoid anything in packaging you cannot see through!
Of course all "convenience" food can be avoided if you plan ahead!
Good luck and remember if you have any questions - JUST ASK!