If you are trying to lose weight there is no need to avoid eating out says nutritionist Kristian Grey. Just make a sensible choice
I have recently returned from a business trip to London where nutrition was at the forefront of everything I did. Firstly, it was my reason for being in the city; I was discussing nutrition science with like-minded peers, but secondly – and more relevant to this column – most of the meetings I attended were around a dinner table at a restaurant.
During those meetings we discussed how stressful eating out is for people who are not only trying to lose weight, but also for those who are just looking to make healthy choices with food in a social situation.
Whenever I work with clients, one of the first things they ask me about is what they can eat in restaurants, because they don’t want to give up their social lives for the sake of weight loss and health, but they are also desperate not to undo all they may have achieved.
Thankfully for all those who have asked me that question, there is one very simple answer: yes, you can eat out and still stay healthy. But notice I didn’t use the phrase that many ‘weight loss gurus’ use, I didn’t say, ‘you can have your cake and eat it too’, because, unfortunately, you can’t.
The simple thing with eating for weight loss and health is to make some easy dietary changes that will allow you to sit down with friends at a nice restaurant and not feel like a pariah.
In Cyprus we are spoilt for choice with wonderful restaurants offering an array of delicious foods. But one of the best things about the majority of them is that they make food to order. By this I mean, they can make the food the way you like it – you just have to ask.
For example, if you are eating in a traditional restaurant where you would normally order souvla with potatoes, Greek salad and halloumi, simply ask the server to omit the potatoes from the order and to not put the complimentary bread on the table so you are not tempted to eat two foods which are well-known to spike blood glucose levels and encourage the body to store fat.
“It is easy for people to panic when they are invited out to breakfast, lunch or dinner when they have been dieting, because they are naturally fearful of foods they did not cook themselves,” says founder of Nic’s Keto and Organic Centre Nicolas Tzenios, who was with me at the table in London.
“There is also the fear that they will look like the awkward friend that doesn’t want to enjoy the party with the rest of the group. Of course, this isn’t the case and good friends would never judge a person for trying to look after themselves.
“My advice would be to enjoy yourself but consider what you are ordering. If you are trying to lose weight, the chances are you already know that sugar and refined carbohydrates lead to weight gain, so make sure you take them out of your order and stick to real food.
“Let’s be honest, souvla, kleftiko and freshly caught fish are wonderful foods and are full of great nutritional sources but most importantly, they do not need sugar and refined carbs to make them taste better.”
So, after a busy few days in a city with thousands of great restaurants the conclusion was simple, you may not be able to have your cake and eat it too all of the time (birthdays and Christmas I can look the other way), but you can certainly enjoy eating out on delicious foods which will encourage your weight loss and health goals with causing you any damage.