Eating out is part of our culture. It is how we build bonds and celebrate. When enjoying meals out, keeping on track to your macros and nutrition goals can be challenging. You know what you eat and drink will have the biggest impact on your results, but the party need not stop while you focus on healthy eating and lifestyle. Planning in advance, tracking, and making it fit into your macros. This will be your best approach. But what happens when things aren’t that simple?
Even though tracking your food may be beyond your control, there are a number of ways to stay on track and still have a good time when eating out. Eat normally for meals that you can control. Don’t skip meals to ‘make room’ for extra food. By doing this you will be going hungry into an uncontrollable situation, which could usher in over-eating or even binge-eating.
Track the meals you can, and leave enough room with your macros to compensate. Estimate what you eat, even if you’re not 100% accurate. The accountability of a food diary in any form brings awareness of your eating habits. Even if you make the choice not to track, keep your macros in mind.
Eat slowly, mindfully and intuitively. When rushed, distracted, stressed or excited, we might not focus on what we are doing in the moment. By slowing down and being aware of hunger and fullness cues, this may help when it comes to navigating challenging situations. If you know where you’re going, check out the menu ahead of time to suss out the best options. Order first to avoid being influenced by what other people are having. If you can't plan ahead, use what you know about macros to inform your order. Choose foods that align with your goals and consider individual macros.
Carbohydrates and fats can be interchangeable when control over your food is compromised. If you know that you’ll be going over in carbs, aim to cut back on fat. If you go over on fat, pull back on carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are generally the easiest to identify and thereby monitor. The best thing to do, regardless of approach, is to prioritize protein. When tracking is difficult, protein can get neglected. By actively seeking it out it will force you to make better food choices. As we know, protein promotes satiety, keeping you fuller for longer and making it harder to overeat.
Look for foods that are filling and rich in nutrients: namely vegetables and salads. Fibre, water and overall volume will again keep you fuller for longer and better help to regulate your appetite. When it comes to indulging, make a choice between alcohol or desert. If you are going to enjoy a few drinks then forgo desert. If you’re a sweet tooth, skip the booze. Life is about balance, compromise & choices. Don't be too restrictive and allow yourself small indulgences. Should you overindulge, instead of feeling guilty, take the opportunity to look at what you could do better next time. As opposed to trying to overcompensate and punish yourself with extra cardio or exercise, simply get back onto your regular eating ASAP. A cheat meal or even a day doesn’t have to completely derail you. Think long term.
Meals out with friends and family should be enjoyed. Enjoy yourself, do your best under the circumstances and make the best choices you can.