Tips On Eating Out While Losing WeightAug 08, 2022
A common theme I hear from those struggling with food or weight loss is: finding difficulty in manoeuvring social events or eating out.
In my 10 years of struggling with food and weight, I certainly found eating out a tough one! I remember times when I’d eat my shake at home before going to a restaurant for dinner. I would sit and watch my family eat at the restaurant because I couldn’t handle the calories and stress of restaurant-food.
Other times, I would always make sure I was in control of where we went to eat - oftentimes only very healthy or ‘green’ restaurants.
When I did let myself eat out, I’d rarely let myself truly enjoy the food I ordered - constantly stressing about calories and ruining my weight loss progress. I’d even often binge once home because there was this built up tension around not eating what I wanted.
I’d worry when no one else ordered dessert but I really wanted it.
There was just so much stress! I was jealous of those who just ordered whatever they wanted and moved on with their days not overthinking how to undo it.
If you can relate at all, stick around while I talk about common pain points regarding eating at restaurants when you’re struggling with your food relationship or trying to lose weight.
1.Avoiding restaurants when you’re on a really good weight loss streak
This was me to a T! I would want to eat out but also not want to because - calories, lack of control, ruining progress! But going down this route too far leads into disordered territory - excessive food control, stress, guilt. We don’t want that and we don’t need to go there either.
If you’re on a weight loss journey, here are my takes that have helped past clients lose weight AND still get to eat out - all taught in my Sustainable Fat Loss course by the way!
We're doing things differently this time:
What we’re not going to do is halt your entire life just to lose weight. We’re not going to become obsessed. Yes, you may want to lose some weight but it’s not going to take over your life. This is a new leaf - a new approach to weight loss where there is no rush, no deadlines.
Recognise that weight loss isn’t linear - there will be times when it goes up, stays flat, goes down. So yes maybe if there’s a week or two where you’re eating out a lot, you may not lose weight. That’s ok though. Ideally, your weight loss strategy isn’t even that ‘difficult’ or taxing that it feels like wasted progress.
Ideally, your strategy consists of some small, healthy tweaks and changes in your lifestyle - so even if you gain weight because of eating out frequently, you still have made some healthy changes.
We never want to press pause on life entirely when losing weight
In SFL, we start off by looking at your non-negotiables while losing weight. What are you unwilling to sacrifice to lose weight? Maybe one for you is enjoying restaurant food.
Another might be you refuse to cut out chocolate. How can you ensure you respect those non-negotiables within reason?
E.g. Yes, you don’t want to cut out desserts but you also sensibly recognise it would be hard to lose weight and be healthy while snacking on chocolate constantly.
Or regarding restaurants - it may be that you decide that during your weight loss journey you’ll dial down to going out 1-2x weekly instead of 4. But promise too that when you DO go, you enjoy it!
We only want SUSTAINABLE fat loss
Remember that we only want sustainable weight loss. Not unsustainable. Part of that is your mentality.
We don’t want you fearing restaurant food after weight loss because you’re scared it’ll make you regain. Or during the journey. If you’re growing terrified of restaurant food, it doesn’t feel very sustainable.
Eventually you’ll see all restaurant food as too many calories, you’ll skip going out, you’ll feel out-of-control eating it. So if you’re starting to see yourself going down that path, I recommend pressing pause on weight loss.
This is something I talk about in SFL - whenever you don’t feel like you’re in the driver’s seat - press pause. Regroup. Get back to feeling chill with restaurant outings. Figure out your game plan for how you can fit it into your fat loss journey and be ok with it.
Some tips for that game-plan:
- Don’t go to the restaurant feeling hangry
- Make restaurant days your maintenance day (explained in SFL)
- Don’t be restricting so much that going to a restaurant feels like “omg, I can finally have all the fun foods!!”. If eating out feels like that, then adjust your non-restaurant foods - can you allow more satisfying foods there so restaurants aren’t this high.
Also! Remember that eating out won’t ever be thatttt many extra calories over maintenance. Things will always balance out. You probably won’t feel as hungry in the morning for a big breakfast. Or that extra fuel will make you move more the next day - subconsciously even.
2.Skipping restaurants because you can’t resist the tempting junk food
We want to look at the wording here in the concern (exact wording from a client) - 'resist', 'tempting', 'junk' food. Obviously everyone has their own connotations with words but, to me, this indicates restriction going on - mental restriction primarily.
Hopefully with food freedom - you get to a point where few foods elicit such a response - that they’re irresistible, tempting. Food is just food. Yes some is yummier than others, some your body might crave more. But overall, we want be at a place where we are mostly in balance.
Now if you’re trying to lose weight, I understand that you might be dialing back on certain foods or food quantities. (Note: don’t HAVE To be doing this to lose weight always - even things as simple as getting enough and good quality sleep can massively affect weight loss journey).
If you are dialing down some foods / amounts, we want to make sure it’s not by THAT much that you start getting into this mindset of forbidden foods, tempting, can’t resist, can’t control. We want to make sure you can still go to restaurants and enjoy what you order.
- Remember it’s short-term, weight loss journey is temporary - this is something we talk about in SFL - my FAVE trick to weight loss
- If you DO want some of that junk food, how can you factor it in? How can you make that work for you? Maybe it’s once a week, maybe you share it with someone, maybe remind yourself that there’s no rush to lose weight - we don’t need to be going fast and worry about losing progress.
- Lastly, remember you still had to eat a meal when you ate at the restaurant - it’s not like the entire thing was excess - it was just potentially a bit of it.
3.Skipping social events altogether
Sadly, the anxiety around going to social events/restaurants can become so much that you withdraw entirely. The thing about anxiety and control is it convinces you it’s there to keep you safe. ‘If we just don’t go, then nothing bad can happen and we won’t feel anything bad’, it tells you.
But once you isolate, it makes your world smaller and smaller over time. You have less opportunities to face discomfort and grow more resilient from it.
My tip here is to learn how to regulate your nervous system - use the power of your body to help calm your mind in stressful circumstances. This is a lesson we go through in detail in the 30 Day Reboot - nervous system regulation is an often overlooked tool in food relationship healing.
Of course, sometimes there will be events that cause you so much anxiety that even your nervous system work doesn’t help and you still feel uncomfortable. Ideally, we want to learn to be resilient to this - life will not always be safe and easy. We must learn how to move through these feelings and tend to our needs as best we can.
Another key lesson in the 30 Day Reboot is Emotional Regulation where we learn how to face challenging emotions and situations. I highly recommend you check out the course if this feels relevant for you.
If you’re skipping social events mainly down to body image worries - whether it’s you’re scared of what others will think of you, or you just don’t like how you look so want to hide away from the world - while in the moment it might feel like the best solution, really hiding away is the worst.
It’s you saying, ‘I am not worthy. I must be hidden from the world. I don’t deserve joy, fun, connection’. I truly recommend looking at Body Love Academy to do the deep inner transformation.
It’s vital that even if you don’t enjoy how you look, that you treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you would if you did like your body.
You simply can’t hate yourself into a version you love. The journey gets to be loving and kind. What do you deserve? You deserve to be seen, to go out, to have fun, to make friends and memories.
So there we have it - my tips on facing social events or restaurants. All of the courses I mentioned are in the show notes, so scroll down to click through and learn more about the 30 Day Reboot or SFL. As always, I am here to answer any questions or concerns you have about the courses - simply DM me on IG @freewithbrid.
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