With the most recent Government scheme in the UK to help boost the economy seeing restaurants offering half price bills Monday-Wednesday it would be easy to see many people flooding to restaurants and the obesity epidemic getting further and further out of hand!
This problem is two fold, people love eating out at different cafes and restaurants and people love a bargain. They love trying out new places almost as much as they love returning to their old favourite spots. They love trying new menu items and discovering new ways to eat the foods they enjoy the most. And with the added incentive of 50% of this can easily become the norm!
In the UK we are blessed to have restaurants dotting the streets of many towns and cities of all sizes. Pre-lockdown we were rarely at a loss for places to eat out.
Eating out can be both a wonderful and very dangerous thing.
Firstly, we must use caution in eating out for the sake of our health. Most restaurants and cafes offer huge portions of items that are unhealthy to eat and drink. Eating out often means filling up on appetisers, a main course, a few high calorie beverages, and a dessert to finish off the evening. Think about how many calories you can consume during a meal like this. I am not, of course, saying that we should never enjoy eating out. I am, however, saying that we need to be careful, for our health's sake, about eating out too frequently. We must be careful to watch our choices when we are eating out. Choose healthier items or commit to only eating half of the meal you choose. There are ways of eating out healthily, it just takes conscious effort.
Here are our top tips for navigating restaurants over the next few months so that you're not going to add any more weight to that lockdown belly:
1. Don't Drink Your Calories
Of all the eating habits we try to break, one the hardest isn’t really about eating at all – it’s drinking. Whether from soda, juice, energy drinks, happy hour cocktails, or lattes. Drinks often add a significant portion of our calories when dining out. You can easily consume 200-400 calories or more from one drink, which won’t do much to satisfy your hunger. Then, since these beverages can’t replace your lunch, you’ll still feel the urge to eat a normal meal, and you’ll end up taking in more calories than you’re likely to burn. Many of these drinks are also low in nutrition, so you’re consuming empty calories without much benefit.
2. Sauce on the side
Sauces like ketchup and mayo make a meal, but beware your serving size... the calories add up fast!
If you're having a balanced meal but it's absolutely drowned in mayo, the chances are that you're consuming hundreds of calories without really realising it.
The issue is that most of us probably consume way over the recommended servings. Most condiments are supposed to be eaten in 15g portions - roughly 3.5 teaspoons - which isn't a lot when you consider how much ketchup we pour over our chips.
3. Skip Dessert
I know that most of us like to indulge in a good pudding after a nice meal in a restaurant. But, remember you wouldn't normally have a big, calorie dense dessert after your evening meal at home, so why do it now? The whole point of this scheme is to get people to dine out for their regular evening meal, that doesn't mean a three course calorie fest, if you have a sweet tooth then prepare something sensible to come home to - like some yogurt and fresh fruit.
Nobody is asking you to be the weirdo with the tupperware in the corner of the cafe, but beware. Eating out can be one of the greatest pleasures or one of the most dangerous things. Enjoy it, but do it with caution.