I am often told how lucky I am to be slim. That’s an interesting concept; it’s true genes do influence our body size and shape, but my parents are not slim, and whatever your genetic make-up, the most significant factor in your size and shape is what and how much you eat and what and how much activity you do. I have always adopted the approach of anything and everything in moderation, and even moderation should be applied in moderation at times. I am aware that many other weight loss coaches and “guru’s” advocate following a strict regime, but for me that just would not work. Tell me I can’t have chocolate, and what do I crave? chocolate; it’s not rocket science, it’s human nature and I have written about this before in a previous blog and talk about it on my Think More Eat Less workshops. If you associate more pain with not having a specific food than with having it – then your subconscious will sabotage any attempts to give it up.
Last year I met a couple of friends of mine who had both been wanting to lose weight for a long time. I could see straight away they had lost at least 2 stone each, when I asked them how they had done it they said “We gave up drink, we stopped eating out, lived off salad and basically we haven’t had a social life!” No surprises that they have since both put it all back on – and a bit more. That’s what happens when you try and deprive yourself of things you enjoy. The problem was not that they dined out a lot, the problem was what they chose from the menu when they did eat out. So many times I have been out for a meal with them, had a great night, and probably consumed up to 1000 calories less, just by making different choices.
There are several strategies you can use to limit the calories/fat/sugar in your meal and still have a great night out:
* Never have bread before your meal. White bread especially increases blood sugar and once this reaches a certain level, any other carbohydrates will be converted to fat, no matter how “healthy” they seem. When they bring you the bread basket with the menu, it’s far easier to say no thanks and have them take it away than sit and look at it – especially if you are hungry.
* If you are planning on having three courses, make sure two are healthy and allow yourself to have what you want for the other one. Your mind will accept compromise more easily that it will accept denying yourself all the things you like.
* Choose foods that are oven baked or grilled and not in a rich sauce. Damage limitation over deprivation every time.
* Don’t be afraid to ask for amendments to the menu! most good restaurants want you to be happy and return so if you want something cooked slightly differently, or served with something else – ask! One of my favourite Italian restaurants serves all its veg in tempura batter, but are only to happy to steam me some instead of fry it. As a result they get my repeat custom.
* If you have a sauce ask for it to be served in a jug on the side so that you can control how much you have. This goes for cream with your dessert aswell.
* Be as mindful of high GI sweet and refined foods as you are of high fat foods. This means reduce the amount of starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta etc.
* Eat slowly. Research has shown that people who eat slowly and put their cutlery down in between mouthfuls, eat considerably less. If you are out with friends make it as much about the company and the conversation as it is about the food.
* Stop if you feel satisfied, don’t wait till you are full, that’s the uncomfortable phase. When you have had enough put your napkin on your plate and push it away. Even healthy foods contain calories and there’s no such thing as “free” calories.
* Allow at least 10 minutes after you finish your main course before you order your dessert. The feedback system between your stomach and your brain can have a delay of up to 15 minutes before you realise that you have had enough.
* What you drink is as significant as what you eat. Have a dry wine or a spritzer and intersperse it with sips of water. Beer and lager in particular are high calorie and can be high GI putting you in Fat Storing mode.
These are just a few of many things that you can do to regularly enjoy great nights out, and not damage your waistline. I am pleased to say that my local pub The Bull at Broughton which has an excellent restaurant, is putting on a Guilt Free Gourmet night on June 4th. There’s delicious food and I will be chatting and giving top tips and guidelines and dispelling a few myths in between courses! So here’s a shameless plug – if you live near Leicester LE9 call 01455 282343 soon as places are selling out!
New dates for Think More Eat Less workshops coming up in Warrington and Glasgow click here for more info.