How I stop myself from over eating when I eat out
Here are a dietitian’s top tips to eat according to your hunger and feel good instead of over eating when you’re eating at a restaurant.
Feeling bloated and heavy after a meal is not fun.
Whilst I think we should all cook more at home and eat out less, I also don’t think eating out should make you feel stressed.
Having a balanced relationship with food (which is what I’m all about!) means you should feel comfortable and calm about eating out.
It’s not always easy, and sometimes, you will eat more than you planned and that is ok. If you feel guilty, read this. Beating yourself up about it won’t help. It may only lead to yo-yo dieting or emotional eating later on.
Instead, here are some tips to keep in mind for next time, to help you eat to your hunger and feel good instead of overeating when you eat out:
1. Don’t skip meals to save calories
If you arrive too hungry, you will eat way more than you intended. You may also get hangry and not be the best company.
Don’t avoid eating before the event to save calories. But, you also don’t want to eat a meal just before you go as you might arrive full. It’s a balance.
Apply the Goldilocks principle. Arrive hungry, but not too hungry. I teach you how to do this in my program Keep It Real.
2. Practice crowding
Crowding is really effective and really simple:
Focus on the foods you want to eat more of – not the foods you need to avoid.
This means, order lots of options with vegetables. Naturally, you’ll fill up on the veggies, crowd out the less healthy options and it won’t be a struggle. You’ll feel full and you won’t feel deprived.
Instead of saying ‘I won’t have the fries’ try ‘I will have the sweet potato mash’. Always order as much veg as you can…
3. Place your napkin over your plate when you feel full
Often, you’ll keep eating long after you’re full because the food tastes so good.
Putting your napkin over your plate when you feel full can be a cue to your brain to say: “The meal is done”. This can help you stop picking at food just because it’s sitting in front of you.
Don’t put your napkin on your plate because you think you ‘should’ stop eating. That’s not the same as being full. This strategy helps you listen to your body’s natural hunger signals – it’s not meant to help you under eat.
4. Move the plate out of sight
Whatever is in front of you, will probably get eaten just because it’s there.
When you are content with how much you’ve eaten, ask the waiter to remove the plate from the table. This is especially true if you are a fast eater as you’ll often be finished before everyone else and have to stare at a plate of food.
Out of sight, out of mind.
5. Order one less plate. Then wait.
Ideally, you shouldn’t be ordering so much that you always take home leftovers.
If you’re a compulsive over-orderer, get into the habit of ordering less than you think you need because a). there is no food shortage which means b). you can always get more food if you need.
Tell yourself: “If I want more, I can always order more later”.
Don’t be afraid to tell the waiter “We’ll start with this and see how we go…”. Try to order the amount of food you need right now. But if you do order too much then….
7. Get your food to go…
Do you keep eating because you don’t want to let food go to waste? If so, please think about this.
Food is also wasted if you eat it – but you weren’t hungry for it. It’ll pass through your body without adding much value.
Don’t waste food by leaving it on your plate – or devouring it out of guilt.
Become the person who asks for a takeaway container*. Don’t be embarrassed. Even if the restaurant charges you for the container, you’ll still save money because you got an extra meal for an additional 50c!
*Re-use the takeaway container. Plastic take away containers aren’t disposable.
8. Delay your first drink.
I love to have a glass of wine but I’ll often try to wait a little bit before I dive right into a glass of shiraz.
When you arrive, wait a little bit before having your first drink. Perhaps order your drink when you order the food. This way, you’ll drink less over the course of the night.
By the time the food arrives, you will be less inebriated and more in control – and can drink your wine mindfully.
This can be really useful as alcohol can often lead to mindless overeating.