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10 Strategies to Help You Stay on Track with Weight Loss or Health Goals When Dining Out

Feb 10, 2020

Hi!  It's Karen from Karen Vincent Solutions.

Trying to stay focused on your weight loss, health or your eating goals, can be a challenge when going out to eat.  You will likely see food choices that are high in carbs, salt and sugar. You will likely be offered very large portions.  You will likely be offered alcohol, appetizers, bread and dessert in addition to your meal.  Maybe a soup or salad too! 

Add in the company you are with who may want to overindulge by ordering lots of appetizers and drinks to kick off your big night out.  In addition, let’s top that with the delicious smell you experience when you walk into most restaurants and BAM…it’s on! 

These circumstances can make it very challenging to stay on track with your wellness goals and before you know it, you easily could have eaten WAY more than you expected.  What happens next, is that you often end up beating yourself up because it feels like you have taken a step backwards in your weight loss or health progress.  But…it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can go out, thoroughly enjoy the company and every bite and remain on track with your eating goals.  You just need to be mindful of how you are going to approach your night out and have a plan going into it. 

10 tips for staying on track with your eating goals when going out to eat.

  1. Know where you are going ahead of time. This is so important because many of the steps that follow cannot be done if you don’t know where you are going.  If you know where you are going ahead of time, you can plan.


  1. Have input into where you are going when possible. This can sometimes be challenging if it is a work meal or someone else initiates the get together, however, it does not hurt to offer a suggestion.  If you have a place that has a meal you know you really like, that keeps you on track with your eating goals, suggest it.  Often people just want to go out and spend time together without preferring where they go, so if you can give them that by recommending a place that is also fairly health, it is a win-win.


  1. Decide ahead of time if you will remain 100% on track with your health or weight loss goal, or if you will indulge a little (while still not eating everything that is offered to you as an option). Sometimes you may want to have a bit of a “cheat meal” but remember, a cheat meal does not need to involve a bottle of wine, appetizers, soup, bread, a meal and dessert.  Figure out which of these food categories mean the most to you and if you are going to indulge, indulge in one or two, not all.


  1. Review the menu prior to going out. For me, this has been a game changer.  Really take time to see what is there and what will work for you based on your goals.  When I have a solid plan for what I will order and I am looking forward to it, I can easily say “no” to other things. Have a plan of attack before you go out and stick with it.


  1. Never…I mean never…go out for a meal starving. If you do this, you are setting yourself up to fight with yourself the whole time…and you will likely lose the fight.  Of course you want to be hungry when it is time to eat, however, if you are starving and a warm, delicious smelling basket of bread that you know you should not eat is placed in front of you…you WILL struggle.  When you are starving, it becomes easy to forget about how important your weight loss or health goals are.  It becomes easy to say, I will get back on track tomorrow or I’ll just have one more.  I don’t know about you, but I always regret it the next day.  If I make sure I am not starving, I am so much stronger, and I truly enjoy the food I am consuming while still feeling proud of myself the next day.


  1. Be mindful of your alcohol intake. A drink or two before a meal followed by a drink or two after adds up fast.  In addition, your commitment to your goals will weaken with each drink.  I’m talking from experience here!  Planning how many drinks you will have prior to going out can help you stay on track with your alcohol consumption.  Sip slowly, drink water also and ask yourself if it is REALLY worth it.


  1. Give yourself permission to pass. If you are with a group and everyone wants to order the fried mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and truffle fries as appetizers, let them know that you won’t be sharing them (or that you will have only a very small portion).  They may not understand or give you a bit of a hard time, but my standby response is always, my stomach is sensitive, and I know I won’t feel good if I eat that (which is the truth).  If you don’t want to sit there not eating while others are, order a salad or opt for a healthier appetizer. 


Quick sidebar about this:  you must know how you operate.  In this situation, if I had one mozzarella stick, I would probably want every single one available to me on the plate, however, I could have one chicken wing and not want any more.  For me, give me chips and dip and it is on, but give me a fruit dessert and I would not even consider it.  My point is that you must know yourself and what works for YOU.  Know what tempts you the most and what you can have one or two of without wanting to eat the whole plate.  I know that I am better off having none of some things (because it will turn into many), while for other things, I can easily have one or two, feel good and not feel like I need or want to keep eating.


  1. Ask for what you want. Don’t feel like you are a pain for asking the server to make some modifications to what you want.  For example, dressing on the side, no butter, switch out French fries or mashed potatoes for broccoli, the vegetable medley or ever sweet potato fries.  Remember, you are there as a customer and have someone to cook for you, why not ask for what you really want?  When I do my menu review per tip #4, I always look at the sides and see if there is something I like that would be a healthier version of the side served with the meal.  Again, I have the full plan before I even walk through the door.


  1. When the plate arrives, decide. When your plate of food shows up, look at it mindfully and really notice how much food is on your plate.  Next, think about the size of your stomach and decide how much of what is on your plate you will actually eat for that meal and commit to it.  If you like it, you can always take the leftovers home.  Some people ask for half to be boxed up before they even start eating while other people section things off on their plan and commit to leaving one section alone.  Figure out what works for you based on your health and weight loss goals.


  1. Be mindful. Be present and enjoy the company you are with.  Also, be mindful of what and how you are eating.  Take time to enjoy your food and put your fork down between each bite so that you do not eat too fast.  Appreciate the food you are having (even more so that you did not need to prepare it) and how it will support and fuel your body. 


Live your best Boss Lady life!

~ Karen

Karen Vincent Solutions

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