How to eat out...a few tips, no guilt and enjoying it!

When you're losing weight for keeps, how to eat out comes up rather frequently.

For many of us, me included, "eating out" (and by this I include the mandatory pick up through the drive-thru when the notion of cooking not only leaves you cold, but also serves as a reminder that you haven't got to the supermarket in two even if you wanted to cook, there's nothing to cook with!), happens with some frequency.

When you're losing weight, it's easier when you're at home, where you can regulate what you put in the cupboards, the fridge and your mouth; but what do you do when you have no control over the menu? To look at how to eat out, let's first look at why we eat out.

How to eat out - Two Categories

There are really two types of eating out - the one where you are trying to save your sanity, you've got no time and everyone is starving, this is what I can 'necessary' eating out - it's necessary if you're going to get through the day and still have put some food into your family's stomachs.

Then there's the eating out for pleasure - going to a restaurant for dinner with family, your partner, or friends, or even a cafe for coffee, lunch and a catch up.

How to eat out varies depending on the why.

How to eat out for necessity

Now, in an ideal world we would have the time to cook deliciously and healthily everyday, be able to sit down and relax, enjoying our culinary skills (in actual fact, in my ideal world I live with a chef that cooks delicious meals for me every night which I then get to sit down and relax enjoying his culinary skills).

Alas, that's not my reality. Grabbing take away on the run, or ordering in, is a common part of my life, although I do try and limit it

Try and limit the amount of times you dine on the good old take away. Also, if you have some healthy snacks in the car for when you're driving, feed everybody as much of these as possible before you order.

I'd much rather my kids fill up on fruit, even dried, nuts, and low fat rice crackers than McDonalds.This means that when you order, you'll be less hungry, you you'll order only the minimum.

Don't order to fill up. If you're on the way home and you know that if nothing else, there's a couple of pieces of fruit, some healthy breakfast cereal, or anything else with less fat and calories that you enjoy the taste of, just order a small amount of the take away, and then have the other stuff when you get home.

Nowhere is it written that you will be beheaded if you have a yummy bowl of healthy cereal and lite milk for dinner! It may say on all the ads that it's great for breakfast, then it should also be great for dinner!

It's no harder to pour cereal in a bowl than it is to order and wait at a drive-thru. Or to head out to pick up pizza.

How to eat out - Stock up on options

Now you probably know where the closest drive-thru's are, but what about the food courts and the local restaurants and bistro's that do take way?

There are a lot of restaurants and bistros that do certain of there meals as take away options, including salads vegetables and kids meals.

Start collecting a list in your mobile phone. I have mine all listed there.

The local Japanese restaurant (great sushi and noodles which they do as takeaway), there's an Italian place down the road that does a gnocchi with fresh basil that is divine, and the bistro up the road does about 75% of their dinner menu as takeaway.

Get a list, and start using them, note who delivers and who is pick-up only. There is such a variety of options these days, and some of them are good healthy option for losing weight and keeping it off.

How to eat out for necessity is about looking for different options, minimising the amount and frequency.

How to eat out for pleasure

I love restaurants! I love great food, cooked by someone else, with great company and a great atmosphere. My son says he wants to be a chef, I can't wait...I've already told him to have a permanent table reserved for me...I may even move in!

Seriously, if you're eating out for an occasion, just catching up with your partner somewhere where you can relax, talk, laugh, enjoy each other, or even if you're doing the big family dinner bit (the company's not necessarily as enjoyable...but the foods still good!), then enjoy it!

So, if you're going out for pleasured, enjoy it!

How to eat out for pleasure and not overdo it

If you're eating out often, or if usually you enjoy the food so much (and so much of it) that you usually come away feeling bloated and have to undo your pants...there are a few things that can help prevent you overdoing it.

You can order only two courses. It doesn't matter if it's entree and dessert or main and dessert, and remember if you eat both courses and want more, just ask the waiter to bring the menu back!

Leave some on your plate. Look, I know it seems like waste, and you've paid good money for that meal, but if it's too much, eat part of each of the things in front of you, and leave the rest. Really, does it matter? You'd pay for the meal anyway. You can choose, gorge it all in and feel uncomfortable and bloated, (which also means by the last couple of won't taste as good as it did in the beginning), or really enjoy being satisfied and fulfilled by the food in front of you without the gorging side effects.

How to eat out and keep the weight off? Do it consciously but not guiltily!

You will eat out. Not eating out for the rest of your life is not an option...because it won't happen. Just think a little more about what you're doing, pleasure yourself; whether that be by giving yourself a night off and getting take away, or going out with others.

Leave the guilt at the door...acknowledge why you're doing it and just be thoughtful about how to eat out...mmmm think I need to book a restaurant night with the family soon!

Restaurant nutrition facts and tips on ordering and losing weight

Leave How to Eat Out and go back to the Life and Losing Weight Home Page