In an effort to lose weight, most people feel like they have to give up all the fun things in their social life for them to meet their goals –birthday parties, happy hours and dining out all come with opportunities and temptations to slip up. 
Dining out is the number one way to sabotage your weight loss goals according to a research cited by Amanda MacMillan in her article (1).

The article cites a year-long research that that offered some insights into tempting foods and the unhealthy behaviours they can triggers.

The researchers used an app to follow 150 overweight participants who were trying to shed some pounds.

The study participants checked in about 5 times a day to report on who they were with, where they were and whether they have been tempted to stray from their eating plan.

Participants were also requested to log in whenever they ate or were tempted to eat foods/portion sizes they knew were out of line with their meal plan.

You’re more tempted to lapse when you eat out

 

The study showed a clear pattern where participants revealed that they were more tempted when at the restaurant, bar or when eating in the company of other people.

The study notes that participants felt fewer desires to overeat when they were at home, work, their car or other people’s home. 

The study revealed that people are about 60% more likely to succumb to the temptations of straying from their meal plan when dining at restaurants or in the company of other people who were eating.

Their chances of straying while in the car or at work were less than 40%. 

Eating home is a safer bet

 

While this fact seems pretty obvious even without scientific studies, not many people know that they are at high risk of lapsing from their healthy diet when they go to restaurants and bars. Some people eat out to take a break from their weight loss diet, which in many cases presents an opportunity to slip up. 

Eating home seems to be a safe bet for those who wish to stick to their meal plan.

According to the mentioned study above, participants reported fewer foods temptations when in their homes than when in restaurants.

Having said that, we still need to go back and answer the question; can you eat during your weight loss program? 

Here is how you can eat out and still lose weight

 

Indeed, foods in restaurants typically have high calories and are generally offered in larger portions, which contributes to weight gain.

And as we have earlier seen, restaurants and bars can be such tempting places. However, another study (2) revealed that you don’t have to abstain from eating out if you’re trying to shed some weight as long as you practice mindful eating. 

The study involved 35 women aged between 40 and 59 years. This population typically gains weight in the abdomen when they approach menopause. This puts these women at risk for cardiovascular and diabetes.

A half of the participants were taken through a 6 -week training program on mindful eating developed to help them be mindful about the types of foods they eat out, primarily to reduce the intake of fat and calories.

The other group of women did not go through this program, but their eating was still monitored. The participants who attended the mindful eating training program learned about how to manage their weight, eating out strategies, and setting goals.

 

Mindful eating is basically an eating strategy that involves paying close attention to the pleasures and joy of eating including appreciating the smell, texture, and sight of food, and remaining aware of the feelings of fullness and hunger. 

Mindful eating

The study established that women who participated in the six-week training lost significantly more pounds, consumed less fat and fewer calories and they were confident they could use dieting to manage their weight. This group had fewer difficulties with weight loss when eating out compared to women who didn’t attend the training. 

 

Averagely, the participants who took part in the training lost nearly 4 pounds during the six-week program. They actually reduced their calorie intake per day by about 297 calories. The researchers acknowledged that women who took part in the training developed skills that allowed them to eat at restaurants without adding weight as a result of the typical high calories and larger portions. 

The study established that women who participated in the six-week training lost significantly more pounds, consumed less fat and fewer calories and they were confident they could use dieting to manage their weight.

This group had fewer difficulties with weight loss when eating out compared to women who didn’t attend the training. 

 

Averagely, the participants who took part in the training lost nearly 4 pounds during the six-week program. They actually reduced their calorie intake per day by about 297 calories.

The researchers acknowledged that women who took part in the training developed skills that allowed them to eat at restaurants without adding weight as a result of the typical high calories and larger portions. 

Tips to reduce calorie and fat intake while eating out

 

So, as it turns out, whether you can eat out and still lose weight depends on your dieting discipline. Letting someone else cook for you is quite relaxing, so you don’t have to completely skip eating out. The following tips should help you reduce your calories and make healthier choices whenever you eat out. 

• Plan in Advance: if you have a predictable pattern of when you eat, plan ahead and set aside some calories that you can then spend on your next meal when you eat out. 

 

• Extras: When eating out, watch out for those extras that often add up your calories really quick, unnoticed. This includes things like flavoured oil, bread roll with butter, side orders of fries, oil marinated olives, cream with dessert and coffee are common culprits. 

 

• Ingredients and Cooking Methods: keep off from foods that have been deep-fried or rich in cream, sauces, and cheese –they all have high-calorie content. 

 

• Ordering: when ordering your food, feel free to request that your food be adapted to your personal needs. This could be as simple as requesting for extra veggies instead of potatoes, your steak to be grilled instead of pan-fried or your salad to be served without a dressing. 

 

• Courses: You don’t have to go for the full three course –you could just request for the main course or request for two starters and have one of them as the main course. 

Conclusion 

 

As you can see, eating out doesn’t automatically hinder your weight loss effort – you just have to be aware of the food options that have a significantly high-calorie content.

Consider eating out at restaurants and hotels that have a “healthy” and weight-loss friendly menu.

Where possible, regardless of where you eat, try to stick to foods that are on your dieting plan and generally lower in calories. 

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Sajal Mahato

I am a fitness enthusiastic who believes “Health is the number one asset to an individual” and that “It should be the number one priority in life”. Gone through the journey of being super fit & healthy (sports fanatics during teen years) to sick & unfit (late 20’s and 30’s) to fit & healthy again (wise men say life starts at 40 ☺). Understands why things go to custard and what it takes to get back on track again.
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