I recommend that clients get in the kitchen and engage in meal preparation and planning most of the time BUT we all like to eat out or order in sometimes! Here are a few tips when thinking about eating out or ordering in:
1) Decide how often you want to eat out and plan for it.
How often you want to eat outside of the home or order in is a personal choice but when we leave it up to chance, we may end up eating out more often than we would actually like for convenience sake. Planning quick meals that you can make at home on busier days or having leftovers in the freezer ready to go can save you a trip out.
2) Be picky!
If you are going to eat out, get what you want and go where you want. This will mean something different for everyone. For me, this means choosing a locally owned restaurant that prioritizes local food ingredients. This is not because of any added nutritional value but because I am interested in supporting small business and our local food system and a fast food or corporate chain is just not worth my time or money most of the time. If you are picky about where you go, regardless of your reasoning, you will be more satisfied with your meals when you do eat out.
3) Nourish your body, don’t deprive it
What happens when we save up our calories is that we wind up being very hungry and thus eating more than we would have if we had eaten beforehand and didn’t feel so hungry. Eat your meals, eat your snacks, and show kindness to your body by providing it with nourishment throughout the day. If you do overindulge anyways, that’s OK too. You’re still awesome.
4) Be mindful of portions
Remember that restaurant meals serve very large portions and when we are served large portions, we eat more than we would if we were served smaller portions. Ask for ½ the meal to be packed up right at the beginning and then enjoy the rest of your meal until you feel comfortably full. Avoid having alcohol before the meal as this skews your appetite and you may need to eat more to feel satisfied.
5) Do your research
Look up nutrition information to help guide your choices, while still choosing foods you really enjoy. It’s always good to make an informed choice. It’s ok if your choice is sometimes not the most nutritious option, especially when eating out is something you are doing less often. Remember it’s the makeup of your diet as a whole vs. having your favourite foods or meals feel forbidden.
Christine McPhail MSc RD