When I was around 13 years old, I read an article in a magazine about how to eat when out to stay skinny.
They suggested eating a salad and getting “The SORBET” for dessert. That sorbet just got stuck in my head all these years. Who orders sorbet?
That’s a highly sadistic suggestion.
But what can you do, if you want to lose weight, enjoy life and maintain some social life, without eating sorbet for dessert?
The reality is that eating out can (and I even think should) be a part of a healthy lifestyle, as long as you don’t let it escalate into a wild bingeing party.
How do you do that?
It’s pretty easy. You need to make healthy choices that you’re happy with regularly. This then feeds into a habit of always making the right choice for the moment.
When you make the right choice for the moment most of the time – you stop feeling deprived, guilty and then stop bingeing and overeating ( a common reason for not losing weight).
Now, let’s take a closer look.
1. Step one: Apply common sense
Eating healthy is not rocket science. People make it seem like it is, but it is quite simple.
Most people know fruits and vegetables are good for us. Gone are the days when this well-hidden secret was reserved only for the flat-bellied rich & famous.
What else do we know?
- Sugar = the devil
- Fried stuff are bad for us.
- Processed foods are bad for us.
- Too much red meat is bad for us.
- Eating too much is bad for us
- Whole foods are good for us (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds)
That is all common sense.
True, some healthy foods are healthier than others, but if you’re honest, you probably don’t crave a green smoothie or a kale salad when you’re out.
Here are a few alternatives for real life that don’t suck:
- thin crust pizza with tomatoes & basil instead of thick crust + salami;
- a wrap instead of a burger
- a good old main dish salad
- anything Asian, that is not fried (I love Thai curries – make sure they don’t use MSG)
As a rule, whatever comes with some fresh/steamed vegetables in it/next to it – better than options that have NO vegetables.
I always look at the ratio. How’s vegetable to other stuff? If that ratio is high, then I know, I’m fine.
Sure, a thin crust pizza doesn’t have the highest ratio of tomato sauce and basil to cheese and crust. BUT it’s higher than for the other thing I might wanna eat – which is thick crust fat salami pizza.
I also found this chart by THE EVERYGIRL on Pinterest and I think it’s a pretty good source for when you’re at a fast-food restaurant.
Will you be the healthiest person if you eat like this all the time?
But the point is to make the better choice at the very moment. This way you won’t let yourself get so hungry that you want to eat like there’s no tomorrow afterwards.
2. Step two: Be happy with whatever you chose
This step, while a little confusing, is VERY important.
It’s the idea that no matter what choice you make at the moment, it will always be the right one if you just let it be.
If you just let yourself do, without ANY regret or judgement. If you, with all your heart and mind, let yourself be happy with your choice.
This is huge, because this “feeling” leads to what you do next. You can either binge or you can make the right choice again.
I’ll give you an example from recently.
A few weeks ago I was out of my comfort zone, because none of the lunch places I usually go to was within reach for my lunch break. I took a walk and discovered COUNTLESS lunch places.
It seemed quite overwhelming. Should I go for pizza, salad, a wrap or falafel?
Unlike other times, this time I didn’t let myself go crazy asking myself questions (out loud) like “Wonder if this place has good reviews”, “Wonder how much protein this has”, “What if it’s not good?”.
I realized all those questions were rooted in the fear that I could be making the wrong choice for lunch.
Yes, I’ve got problems.
And yet – I’ve done it a million times in the past. Overthinking something that should not even be a question.
Here’s what I thought this time: “Big deal. It’s just lunch. I’m hungry and I need to eat.”.
I stuck to common sense and what I was craving at the moment and bought a falafel.
Was falafel the healthiest thing I could eat? No. It’s fried and it’s not a salad.
But I was craving some sort of warm wrap. Falafel was the better choice from all the alternatives.
Was this falafel the best I ever ate? No. But it wasn’t bad.
The point is: I enjoyed it. It was having something I craved and I was sticking to my own promises the best I could at the moment.
Result: I was happy with my choice.
I didn’t wonder whether I could’ve made a better choice or whether it was worth the calories, because I had decided – it was the right choice.
What’s interesting is what happened next.
After lunch I was full and I made the right choice (again) to not drink another cappuccino and to not buy cookies.
Instead I drank lots of water.
See if I had focused on the fact that this falafel wasn’t the best, I would’ve probably tried to fix this “MISTAKE” by choosing something “better”, something to make me feel “happier” afterwards.
In the same way – if I had chosen a salad when I was actually craving falafel – later I would’ve bought something to even it out, like cake or sweets.
And if I had gone for a fat pizza, I would’ve felt so guilty that I would’ve said: “Ah I’ll start tomorrow” and just eat whatever crosses my way.
Been there, done that. I know how this crazy cycle goes.
But because I was so happy with my choice, I didn’t need to make myself happy with more food.
So make yourself happy with your actions & decisions – not with food.
I hope this post helps you understand, that it’s safe to eat out, even if you’re eating healthy / trying to lose weight, it’s not about not eating or only eating salad, but about making the best choice for the moment.