Eating out is often viewed as an accepted opportunity, or justification to eat as much as you like, and whatever you like, simply because you are “out”. Many also feel out of control in a restaurant or social setting, and/or get badgered into eating foods they would otherwise not choose. Eating out however, can be approached in exactly the same way as eating at home. Healthy eating out is acceptable, and you can still enjoy delicious, and healthy food, choose wisely, and eat food in a comfortable, and moderate quantity.
The first priority is to make a clear, and conscious decision to do this! It really can be that simple. Making a strong intention about how you want to nourish yourself is a major start to enjoying social occasions, and still eating healthily and naturally. Learn to take full responsibility for all your food choices, and accept the consequences of those food choices too - good or not-so-good!
A couple of questions you might like to ask yourself before choosing from a menu, or buffet spread is “How do I want to feel after this meal”? “Will eating this energise me, and make me happy”? If there’s an opportunity to eat something more nutritious, or more in line with what you want to eat, do. If not, eat moderately, or lightly, acknowledging to yourself that once in a while, eating “outside” of my normal diet is perfectly fine!
Key things to think about when you're out and about…
- Before you set out on a social occasion, decide how you want to approach it, how you want to feel after your meal, what sort of food you would like to eat, and then… follow through on your intentions as best as you can.
- If you’re eating in a restaurant, look at a menu on-line. Many places post their menus on the internet, enabling you to browse before you arrive. It is nice to be pre-prepared sometimes, so you do not have to make a decision “on-the-spot”.
- Learn to say “No thank you”! You don’t have to eat to eat something you don’t want to, or finish everything on your plate if you've had enough and feel full. You're not a child anymore and no one will punish you for leaving food on a plate!
- Leave the breadbasket alone, or better still, ask the waiter/waitress to take it away.
Most restaurants nowadays should "cook to order"; so politely say exactly how you'd like your meal to be cooked. Here are some suggestions or examples you might find helpful…
“I would like extra vegetables instead of potatoes”
“I would prefer a large salad instead of fries or chips”
“No butter on my vegetables thanks”
“Can you ask the chef to use very little oil please?"
“Can you make sure the dressing (or sauce) is on the side please”
Ordering dressings or sauces on the side enables you to be in control of how much you add, not the chef. Take control, be bold and ask for what you want. This is not impolite. You are simply being confident and assertive. Being in control of your food and meal choices in public, and asking for what you want, will empower you to be in control of your food choices all the time.
So… next time you are out having a good time...
1) Practice being (and feeling) in control.
2) Avoid placing all your focus on food and drink…
3) Focus more on the company of others and the “occasion”
4) Enjoy the healthy eating out experience!