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5 tips for eating out while still losing weight

For many busy executives, eating out and entertaining clients comes with the job. Others may find themselves with limited time for meal preparation, leaving them reliant on takeaway meals. Whilst this may seem harmless, if this is occurring frequently, it may be having negative impacts on your health in both the short and long term. Many restaurant meals consist of larger portions and are more calorie-dense than the meals you would prepare at home. Eating out is also often associated with increased alcohol intake. Here are our EHS-dietitian’s top 5 tips for choosing the healthier option when eating away from home.

1. Don’t arrive hungry
You may have been told that you should reduce your intake during the day if you know you are going to be having a large meal. Whilst this may seem logical to balance out calories, if you are arriving at a work function or a meal away from home hungry, you are more likely to over-eat than if you arrived satisfied. We recommend continuing your usual meals during the day with a focus on protein and fibre to ensure you arrive satisfied and therefore have greater ability to make healthier choices.

2. Load up on veggies
Most restaurant and takeaway meals tend to be low in vegetables, with large portions of protein and carbohydrates. Following similar principles to when you’re eating at home, increasing the portion of vegetables on your plate can allow you to still enjoy the foods you love, without the excess calories. When eating out, we recommend aiming to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. This will not only assist with total calorie management, but it also helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

3. Be mindful of portion sizes
Most restaurants offer meal sizes which are much larger than we need, or what we normally eat at home. A few strategies to tackle this include ordering a side of vegetables and sharing a main meal, ordering an entrée-sized serve with a side of vegetables, or eating what you need to feel satisfied and taking the rest home for later. Tuning into our hunger and fullness cues can help to reduce portion sizes, without leaving you feeling deprived.  

4. Avoid the fried/battered options
Not only are the fried and battered options higher in calories, but they also tend to be high in saturated fat and low in key nutrients. Try swapping out your fried foods for a grilled alternative, such as swapping your battered fish and chips for a grilled fish, chips and salad.

5. Be mindful of alcohol intake
Eating out is commonly associated with increased alcohol intake, which not only increases the calorie-density of the meal, but it is also commonly associated with poorer food choices. Some strategies to reduce the total number of drinks you're consuming include alternating with non-alcoholic beverages, starting your first drink later in the night, or setting a limit on the number of alcoholic beverages you wish to consume that night.

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