How to avoid weight gain when dining out

Last updated 09:40 01/11/2013
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BE MINDFUL: Some cuisines tend to be a lot higher in fat than others, so choose a healthier option to skip the guilt.

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Increasingly busy lifestyles, long working hours and numerous daily commitments mean that eating out has become a routine part of modern life. Unfortunately for those who enjoy a restaurant meal, it is likely to mean many extra kilojoules thanks to the mix of larger portion sizes, the heavy use of oil, butter and sauces as well as numerous courses. So if you do find yourself eating out regularly, here is your fail-safe guide to enjoy it without gaining weight.

Always have a snack before you go

Arriving at a restaurant or function starving is a recipe for disaster when it comes to kilojoule control. Not only are you more likely to order much more than you require, you are also more likely to succumb to extras like bread, entrees and drinks. When we eat out, it also often means we are eating a meal later than we usually would. For this reason, grabbing a protein-rich snack like a nut or protein bar, vege sticks with cottage cheese or hommus, or even a protein shake an hour or two before your meal will help to take the edge of your hunger so that you are able to make better choices off the menu.

Choose your cuisines carefully

Indian, Chinese and Thai foods in particular tend to be extremely high in fat because they involve high-fat sauces, like those made of coconut milk, as well as batters and large volumes of oil for frying. When high-fat curries and fried foods are then eaten with large amounts of white rice, noodles and breads, it is easy to see how a kilojoule overload can result. Ideally high-fat cuisines need to be consumed sparingly, just once or twice a month, and it is best to choose plain dishes like vegetable stir-fries, curries and salads over deep-fried options.

Focus on lighter options

Japanese, Greek and even Modern Australian cuisines have a wider range of menu options, which can help you to make healthier choices. Any sort of raw fish, grilled meat or seafood will be a great choice, especially when teamed with a large portion of vegetables or salad.

Size is everything

The truth be known, if we simply ate smaller portions of everything, far fewer of us would have a weight problems. Few of us really need an entree as well as a main course and for most of us an entree-sized portion of heavier foods such as pasta or risotto will be more than sufficient. When the meals are brought out to the table, if serves of pasta, rice or meat are far larger than you need, visualise how much you will eat and then take the excess off your plate and share with your fellow diners.

Always share dessert

When it comes to desserts, no one is saying that you have to avoid them completely, but remember that the most pleasure of a dessert is gained in the first few mouthfuls, so keep your portions small. When you consider that the average serve of dessert will contain as many kilojoules as an entire meal, it makes sense to share your favourite dessert with as many people as possible.

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Add vegetables

One the biggest issues with meals consumed away from the home is that they rarely contain the amounts of vegetables or salad that we need for good health and to help us feel full and satisfied. Even though they can be expensive when ordered as sides, it is worth ordering extras to help bulk up your meal so you are not tempted by extra chips or bread.

- Daily Life

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