Eating out, whether it’s restaurant dining, grabbing something on the run or a takeaway, is estimated to account for one-third of all food expenditure in Australia. One of the main issues with these food choices is that the extra one-third also extends to kilojoule content, due to extra oil, fewer vegetables, fatty meats and pasta baked dishes .
Knowing a few basics when it comes to food selection outside the home goes a long way in preventing weight gain. Firstly, the main reason we are more likely to put on weight is because when we dine out we tend to eat more. If you eat out regularly, try eating lightly on such days to compensate for the extra kilojoules you’ll be eating later on.
Secondly, differentiate everyday eating occasions from special dining out experiences. If you are going to a restaurant you have booked three months ahead for, enjoy it and order what you feel like. But if you are just getting a takeaway on a Monday night, stick to a basic meat and vegetables stir-fry. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask wait staff for light menu options. Many restaurants have grills, salads and low-kilojoule options for the diet conscious, and are happy to cater to dietary requirements.
Top Tips For Eating Out:
- Never go to a restaurant starving- If you arrive at a restaurant very hungry, you can guarantee the bread and oil and your three-course meal will be demolished in no time. Grab a nut or protein bar a couple of hours before you go out and observe how much more in control of your appetite you feel.
- Avoid the bread- If you are serious about weight control, avoid eating extra bread on the table. Not only do the kilojoules really add up, but bread is very filling and may spoil your main meal.
- Order extra vegetables, every time- A plate of greens might cost about $10 extra, but at least they fill you up. Remember we need at least two cups of vegetables at dinner for a nutritionally balanced meal.
- Limit heavy rice and pasta dishes to just once a week- Risotto, creamy pasta dishes, pizza and paella are common restaurant selections but are high in carbohydrates and fat, so try to limit these heavier dishes to just once a week.
- Always share dessert- Did you know more than 50 per cent of the pleasure associated with dessert is in the first mouthful? Sharing means you halve your kilojoule intake but still enjoy your favourite desserts.
- Choose entree sizes If you enjoy dessert and the extras that come with dining out, you are likely to only need entree-sized main meals.
- Eat slowly to let fullness register It takes up to 20 minutes for the body to register fullness, so eat slowly and put your knife and fork down in between each mouthful.
- Enquire about oils – Ask your local outlet what sort of oil they use for deep frying and how often they change it. Sunola- or Heart Foundation-approved vegetable oils are the best option.
- Develop your own rules – There are different methods for eating out without gaining weight. Some people eat lightly during the week so they can enjoy restaurant meals over the weekend, while others eat out more frequently but always choose salad and fish. Choose what works best for you.