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Eating Out, without 'Pigging' Out

The biggest struggle for anyone trying to stick to a low calorie diet, is trying to juggle your social life, and trying to reach your goals at the same time. No matter what time of year it is, there are obstacles. From barbeques in the summer, Christmas parties, or even just meeting with a friend for a bite to eat or a drink. Managing your energy intake is the key to optimising all your hard work during the week, and keeping you on track in your fitness journey. We can give you some simple tips to help you enjoy your social life without that feeling of guilt lingering in the back of your mind.

The Restaurant

Something I often hear is the use of words like 'cheat' or 'sin' when describing food, and this is something that is completely inaccurate. Food is just food at the end of the day, and it all contains energy for us whether it is in the form of carbohydrates, protein or fat. However, some foods are more energy-dense than others, and how they are cooked makes a huge impact on this too.

Tip 1: All decent restaurants will have their menus published online, so maybe have a quick look before you go. This will help you decide what you're going to order, so there are no last-minute impulsive pizza choices.

Tip 2: Many of us like going out for a 2-3 course meal. Try stick to the starter and the main rather than the main or dessert, as unfortunately desserts in restaurants are extremely high in calories, and even better if you can just stick to the main.

Tip 3: Separate your carbs and fats. Choose a high carb/low fat option OR a low carb/high fat option.

Tip 4: Skip that bread basket. As tempting as it is, it's doubtful you'll need those extra calories.

Tip 5: Potatoes or fries with that? The dreaded question. Just ask for an extra portion of vegetables. You won't miss them and you'll thank yourself on Monday.

Tip 6: Order a jug of water for yourself and continually sip throughout the meal, this will help you feel fuller.

Before the night out

  • It is very important to have a meal plan during the day before going out. I know myself I have been guilty of eating poorly if I was going out that night. It's very easy to adapt the mindset 'I'll be ruining my diet tonight anyway'. However, this is a big mistake, as these are the extra calories that could prevent you from hitting your weekly target.

  • It may be beneficial to eat a high protein snack, such as a whey shake or protein bar, before heading out, as you will be less hungry and therefore less tempted to choose that large pizza or house pasta.

  • Another approach that can be used is intermittent fasting – this involves fasting throughout the day (do not have breakfast, or even breakfast and lunch), with maybe a coffee upon wakening. This will allow you tp have a greater calorie allowance for your meal in the evening. However, I would have a shake or protein bar before going to the restaurant also as you don't want to be ravished and make a bad decision.

  • It goes without saying, this method should only be used if you're going for dinner but not advisable if you're going for drinks as we all know the effects of drinking on an empty stomach.

The Night Out

  • Eat smart: Try to avoid creamed, breaded, sautéed or fried options where possible as these are more likely to be high in calories.

  • Stick to grilled, steamed, or baked, or why not eat the burger without the bun?

  • Beware of the extras with the salad. For example, breaded croutons, and full fat mayonnaise can send calories in a Caesar salad through the roof! Ask for your dressings and sauces in a side bowl. That way you can control how much you pour over your dish rather than the chef heaping it on.

  • Finally, when you're full you're full. Remember to eat as you would at home. We've all been there regretting that dessert or extra portion of mash. Just because it's in front of you, doesn't mean it has to be eaten.

Drinks and Alcohol

  • When ordering drinks, stick to low calorie drinks e.g. water, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, Diet 7up etc.

  • Try not to drink alcohol with your meal as this will increase your calorie intake, and we all know after a glass or two of wine willpower begins to fade.

  • If you want to drink, it's not the end of the world but it's just about being savy. You can still lose weight and drink alcohol.

  • As with your diet, choose low calorie options like gin and diet mixers rather than wine and beer. 4 pints of beer can equate to 1000 calories, which could be 70% of your days eating in a deficit.

Below are low kcal alcohol options Beverage Calories:

  • Tequila Shot 90kcal

  • Gin and Slimline Tonic 115 kal Glass of Prosecco 80 kcal

  • Rum and Diet Coke 90 kcal


Food plays a prominent role at most gatherings. It gives people something to look at, something to do, something to talk about, and something to remember. But you don’t have to stay home just because you’re dieting.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a major lifestyle change. These days, many restaurants are willing to cater to most dietary preferences, from low-fat to low-carb to gluten-free. You can have a nutritious meal anywhere if you know how to order.

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