One of the best things about flexible dieting is that it gives you the freedom to eat what you want, wherever you want! No longer do you have to avoid social situations that involve eating out with family or friends simply because of your restrictive diet. There is no such thing as “eating off the plan” because you are the one making the plan! And because everything is factored into your calories for the day, there is zero food guilt!
Now we know that this can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! The following are recommendations on how to make eating out and staying on track as simple as possible!
1. Plan ahead
When planning what to eat for the day, try to factor in your meal out first. If you aren’t sure what or where you will be eating then it is best to save a good amount of calories. If you are wanting to go all out then there are a few strategies to help you have up some extra calories:
- Reduce your calorie intake earlier in the day by drinking protein shakes or eating small servings of lean protein with low calorie salads/vegetables. This will help to keep you feeling full and allow you to save more carbs and fat macros for the meal out.
- Utilise fasting for a period of the day. This can decrease the window of eating, allowing more calories to be saved. This can be difficult for some however, making the first option more appropriate.
2. Choose wisely
If you have the option of choosing the restaurant, then try and select one that has their nutritional information available online, through MyFitnessPal or on their menu. Some of our favourites here in Australia are:
- Guzman Y Gomez
- Sushi Train
- Noodle Box
- Mad Mex
- Pita Pit
- Sumo Salad
- The Coffee Club
- Boost Juice
If you are unable to choose the restaurant then check the menu for something that you can easily track. Quite often, a source of protein with carbs and/or veggies/salad will be available and can be guesstimated easily. Break it down into a basic ingredients list or search for something similar using the MyFitnessPal database.
Remember, it is always better to overestimate the serving size than underestimate from a calorie perspective. This gets easier with time and the more experience you have measuring portions at home, you will become more accurate at estimating the portions found in restaurant meals.
3. Reduce calories where possible
Be conscious of the calories you are consuming, and find ways you can make your choice a little less calorie dense. Think about leaner protein sources, less calorie dense carbs, and reducing fat where possible. Another way to reduce the caloric total of your meal is to get sauces and dressings on the side.
Drinking is often a big part of eating out, but a few alcoholic beverages can take out a large amount of your daily calories. Set yourself an alcohol budget and choose a lower calorie alcoholic beverages where possible.
4. Guesstimate & track your meal
Tracking something is always going to be better than nothing and will help to keep you on track for the rest of the day. Search for a similar meal in your food tracking app and choose the average of the options available. Alternatively, break the meal down into it’s components, guesstimate the portions and track them individually.
It is impossible to track your meal perfectly so just do your best!
5. When in doubt, over-estimate
Don’t just chose the lowest calorie entry you find! It is always best to over-estimate calories than to underestimate. Make sure that you account for oil/butter used in the cooking process.
6. Ditch the guilt & don’t stress over it
Eating out is part of balanced diet. Life is too short to be anti-social and miss out on fun and memories with loved ones due to a restrictive diet. A more flexible diet will be more sustainable in the long run and consistency is the driving factor for results!
If follow these tips, there’s no reason why eating out will hinder your overall progress, however, if you find you aren’t seeing the progress you desire or you have a deadline to reach then you may want to do so a little less frequently. As with everything, moderation is the key and if you follow the 80/20 rule, you will be fine.
If you want to learn how to achieve your goals in an enjoyable and sustainable way then click here to find out more about our 1:1 Personalised Coaching!