article eating out

We understand that maintaining a social life is important, with friends forming a core part of our support networks. Unfortunately, it's hard to think about socialising without at least some element of eating and drinking.

Think time spent chatting, drinking and snacking in a pub; dinner parties and meals out with friends, picnics, barbecues, even a trip to the cinema is likely to involve an assortment of sweets and salty snacks. If you are resolving to lose weight it may feel like you can never go out again!

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Ideal Weight's professional coaches maintain that losing weight doesn't have to mean the end of your social life, just a little forward planning and some conscious choices when you are either eating out or eating with friends.

If you are going out for a meal and you know where you are going, take a look at the menu online (or call ahead) and review the options. This will give you the chance to prepare yourself and decide in advance what you'd like to eat so you can factor this in when making food choices for the rest of the day.

Our coaches advise that the main thing is to try and feel comfortable, and this means not worrying about how many courses you're having in comparison to everyone else.

If there is a starter or dessert you know you just couldn't resist then you can plan to compensate by choosing something lighter at a different stage of the meal. It's generally not a problem to opt for two starters rather than a starter and a main. This way you need not feel like you're the only one not ordering multiple courses. Also, consider some reserve dishes just in case there are any changes to the menu on the day. Have as many courses as you feel happy with, although if it's a set menu you can at least decide ahead if there are some dishes you should approach with caution.

When eating with friends, your approach may depend on how much you have told them about your weight loss goals. If they seem unsupportive, you could try explaining why you are taking this approach and how important it is that you have their encouragement. You could also proactively make suggestions for places to eat which may offer better choices for you.

If you are going somewhere where food will be available but not essential, such as a party with a buffet, or the cinema, make sure that you've eaten something sustaining before you arrive so that there is less temptation. Bear in mind that alcohol can weaken your resolve, so limit – or if you can, try to avoid it – so that you can be fully conscious of your food choices.

Ideal Weight's core emphasis is on getting the weight off and keeping it off, for continued success. With the support of an Ideal Weight coach and weekly group sessions, you will develop an understanding of why you have gained weight in the past and learn skills to help you maintain your ideal weight for now and for the future.

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