The great unknown of eating out

Unless you’re a total social hermit and never go out, at some point you’re going to have to face the challenge of eating out!

The Slimming World app can help with the syn values of the food served by the major brands, but if you like to eat in more independent restaurants then you might be on your own.

Something as innocuous as a plate of vegetables might be swimming in oil or butter, so it can be a food optimising minefield. 

To try and minimise any damage I might cause to myself, I try to employ a number of coping strategies:

  1. Check the restaurant menu ahead of time. Most places have their menus online. I am able to check them in advance and decide what I’m going to have. It saves me from making panicked decisions (wrong decisions?) when ordering.
  2. Eat before going out. Yeah, I know this sounds kind-of strange – eating before going out to a restaurant. But if I know that the restaurant only serves very calorific food and that there are no healthy options available, then I eat before I get there. That way, I’ll not be hungry when I get there, and I’ll only want something small to eat like a starter. I can still socialise with my friends and family, but not lose control.
  3. Ask the waiter questions. Most restaurants will know or can find out how dish is cooked.  So if it’s not obvious I like to check if something is going to be fried, roasted or boiled. And I ask what ingredients are going to be added. It’s amazing – some places will even cook dishes without oil if I mention that I am on a low fat diet.
  4. Order off-menu. Some restaurant are more happy to accommodate this than others, but if you don’t ask you don’t get! If I think that a particular ingredient is going to be high in syns then I ask for it to be left out of my meal – or perhaps substitute it for some lovely speedy vegetables or a salad. And if there’s a sauce on the dish, I ask for it “on the side” so that I can determine how much or how little I put on the plate.

If all else fails, and I haven’t got the time or nerve in the middle of the restaurant to be checking all the ingredients on your Slimming World app, then I go with my gut instinct. I try to remember that lean meat or fish and vegetables are always a good option – as long as they are not cooked with half a pound of butter!

And it’s also worth remembering that the occasional controlled blow-out can’t cause that much damage. It’s only when I throw caution to the wind and ignore all the food optimising rules out the of the window that I spoil my weight loss. If I make semi-sensible decisions then I can usually avoid a shock result at the next weigh-in!

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