Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eating Out and Losing Weight

Here we are again…almost in the holiday season! It’s a time when we tend to get out of our routines with extra events to attend and other things to do. This usually means it becomes more challenging to keep up with your weight loss routine and working towards those weight loss goals. I’m guessing that some of you will be eating out more between now and the end of the year, whether it’s long days at the office (including lunch at your desk), dinner business meetings, or getting together with friends and family. Eating out can be difficult to navigate and keep yourself on track, or at least to not lose any ground. Here are some suggestions that might make it easier to get through eating out while losing weight and being healthy.

First, prepare your mind. Take a look at the menu beforehand, preferably when you aren’t already hungry. I like to think of it the same as looking at a map before you get in the car: it tells you what you’ll see and what obstacles you’ll encounter. This way, you have the opportunity to select what you’re going to have before you sit down at the table, or run out to grab a bite. You can keep an eye out for ingredients that might be counterproductive to weight loss, such as cream based sauces and dressings and fried foods. If it’s available, look at the nutritional information as well. This might be surprising to you. One time, I was meeting a friend for lunch and was looking at the menu beforehand. Out of curiosity, I compared a cheeseburger and a chicken wrap. I was shocked to learn that the burger had significantly fewer calories than the wrap! That made my decision easy when I sat down and ordered.

Second, prepare your body. Drink lots of water before and during the meal. Not only will this make you feel less hungry when you order, it will help counteract the high amounts of sodium you are likely to consume. Make sure to include water during the meal as well, for the same reasons.

Finally, help your body process the food. A good cardio session before or after (not immediately, but perhaps the same day) has several benefits. It helps the body to burn some of those additional calories you ate, compared to what you might have prepared at home. All that sweat has to do with electrolyte balance, such as sodium. Plus, you’ll feel better for sticking to your regular routine.

Eating out doesn’t have to be the end of your weight loss plan as you know it. If you are prepared, choose wisely, and exercise regularly, the occasional meal out can be tasty and not a long term detriment to your goals. Check out those menus and educate yourselves!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!