It’s so easy to think of milk based coffees like lattes, cappuccino and flat whites as just drinks that don’t really count towards your kilojoules.
But when you realise that even the smallest sizes have around the same kilojoules as a slice of bread, medium potato, small yogurt or a piece of fresh fruit, it becomes clear that they are really more like a mid-meal.
And then if you order a medium sized coffee, it’s one and a half times more and a large is double.
So it might make you re-think about whether to add a coffee to your morning or afternoon tea snack, or to just have it instead?
Piccolo lattes can be a good alternative. They still give you the coffee, but not so much milk and far fewer kilojoules.
A great free audio from George Blair West available until tomorrow from Portion Perfection
Portion Perfection has made some free content available through their Facebook page.
Available to download for free until tomorrow.
The fourth piece of this free content from Dr George Blair West is really fantastic:
Eating Mindfully – Tasting More to Eat Less.
It explains the 5 Steps – to be expert at mindful eating:
Tune out distractions – TV, screens, driving, etc;
Tune in to how hungry you feel;
Taste the food not using your taste buds;
Taste using your taste buds – remembering there are none in your stomach!
Tune into how hungry (not how full) you feel – To eat mindfully engage as many of your senses as possible – don’t talk, unless it’s about the food;
Australian Psychiatrist, Dr George Blair-West has useful ideas, that make good sense of why it’s so hard to lose weight and keep it off. He also tells us what makes it easier, especially if you enjoy and appreciate food.
I particularly like his explanation of the ‘what the hell effect’ , ‘restraint theory’, and the ‘last supper effect’ . He has good logic as to why it’s so important for success, to be able to keep incorporating the foods and food sharing occasions that are important to you. This is what he calls the ‘low sacrifice diet’ and involves working out which are your food priorities and what you can do without.
He is big on the concepts of mindfulness and savouring and explains why depending on will power and trying to just use exercise to lose weight, doesn’t work.
George also helpfully unpacks the ‘law of diminishing returns’. This explains why the first mouthful is always the best and pleasure declines rapidly after that. However, the good news is, that if you stop after the first few mouthfuls and then enjoy it again later, the pleasure of the ‘first’ mouthful, returns – a great reason to take the rest of a beautiful meal home with you if you can, once you’ve enjoyed enough the first time.
To listen to several radio interviews that give a good overview of George’s ideas go to:
For more about George and his helpful book go to:
When dining out it can be much more rewarding to try a larger range of taste experiences in smaller amounts than to be just limited to one or two dishes, that may or may not be so good.
Restaurants offer a number of options that can be useful, but some are more useful than others.
Sharing plates and platters
……can really be your friend.
These are often full of interesting and beautifully presented foods. A treat for all the senses. These can be ordered per person/two people and extra breads or crackers are available if you need them.
Tapas have lots in common with sharing plates and platters, but like entrees, tend to be an expensive way to order as each piece in the tapas dish, is small, but often costs $4-8 per item.
It can also be easy to order too much food, so think about how many serves would be a comfortable and enjoyable amount. This might be 1 1/2 to 2 tapas dishes per person. It is usually easy to order more if you need to.
Buffets can also offer a wide range of foods and dishes to try. In theory they also allow you to take just the right amount you will enjoy.
However, the range of foods on offer may include plenty of less exciting choices to fill diners up, and because it is ‘all you can eat’, it’s a real challenge not to get overfull.
Because they are priced for larger eaters, you can feel like you are paying for what you won’t really enjoy.
You can’t take any with you, so that tends to make you eat more of your favourites than you would, if you could take some home to enjoy again later.
The key to getting the best out of buffets, is being prepared to leave anything that’s not ‘calorie worthy’ and move on to something else. This is made easier by only seeing yourself a small amount in the first place and going back for more if you will really enjoy more (which is actually rarely the case as…the first mouthful is always the best).
The ‘banquet’ or ‘degustation’ option
It might seem to make sense then, to get the ‘banquet’ option, to make ordering and sharing easy. But it’s usually not the best choice.
For a start, you don’t have control over the dishes you get and they can often be fairly routine foods that everyone knows well.
But perhaps more importantly, like banquets, it’s always way too much food and you end up eating more than you really enjoy, and paying for more than you otherwise would need to.
Also like buffets, often you can’t take any with you.
Whichever way you choose to go, eat mindfully, savour each mouthful to gain maximum pleasure, and stay aware to keep comfortable without getting overfull.
To stay lean, balance great meals with friends with eating lighter in between. Cauliflower rice can be a great idea to serve with curries, stews in fact any saucy dish that goes well with rice. It is also quick and easy and means you don’t need to cook extra veggies.
Cauliflower rice – great idea when eating light
Breakfast or brunch with friends can be a great way to catch up in a busy lifestyle. It is often more relaxed and casual than other meals out.
It can also can be easier to include children at this time of day, especially if venues open to the outdoors.
But, if you are trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, too many cafe breakfasts can start to really weigh you down.
If you really think about it though…..these days, not many of us usually eat hearty, cooked or large breakfasts.
Our breakfast tend to be quite small and light…so why not share a cafe breakfast with someone else? That would make it just about the same size that we would normally eat.
It’s still the same interesting dish and if savoured and eaten mindfully, just as rewarding and satisfying.
And no-one leaves feeling full and stodgy, but instead ready to take up any other interesting culinary opportunities that the day might bring.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, have lost weight and want to keep it off, or avoiding the inevitable scale creep, a few good strategies make it easy to still succeed while enjoying meals away from home with friends.
It’s all about sharing, ordering the right amount, and staying aware of how satisfied you’re feeling…
1. Choose a menu that is easily shared
Asian, Middle-Eastern, Latin American cuisines and some European dishes are traditionally shared and lend themselves particularly well to meals for groups.
Many more contemporary and fusion restaurant menus are now also planned around dishes that are designed to be shared.
…..And choose dishes that can easily be shared
Often staff will be a great help when picking dishes that use smaller pieces or can easily be divided. Avoid single pieces (like poultry legs or whole seafood) useless there’s just a couple/few of you (and you perhaps know each other well).
Be aware of how many individual pieces are in the dish, e.g eggplant slices/ prawns/ spring rolls/ duck pancakes. You may need to order 1 1/2 or 2 serves.
The banquet menu can be a good source of ideas but is not a good option in itself (see tip No. 4).
2. Ask for what you need (e.g. whether dishes can be ordered in 1 1/2 serves or cut into extra serves in the kitchen, come with extra bread) including extra bowls, plates and serving cutlery
Restaurant staff are usually more than happy to try to accommodate your needs, if they can. And if you don’t ask….
……And consider halving individual items at the table
I know this can get messy, and it doesn’t always work, but tasting platters for two, can become tasting platters for four with just a quick skilled knife manoeuvre.
3. Aim for a larger range of smaller taste experiences
It can be much more rewarding to try a number of different foods in smaller amounts than to be just limited to one or two dishes, that may or may not be so good. Eat mindfully and savour each mouthful to gain maximum pleasure from each, without getting overfull.
By sharing dishes you are well on the way to a whole range of tastes, but sharing plates and platters can really be your friend here too.
4. But avoid the ‘banquet’ or ‘degustation’ option
It might seem to make sense then, to get the ‘banquet’ option, to make it easy. But it’s usually not the best choice.
For a start, you don’t have control over the dishes you get and they can often be fairly routine foods that everyone knows well.
But perhaps more importantly, it’s always way too much food and you end up eating more than you really enjoy, and paying for more than you otherwise would need to.
5. Don’t order dishes, just because you think you should
There are no rules about needing to order salad, vegetables, breads, rices etc.
Only order them because they are good options or compliment other dishes well, otherwise you end up eating them on top of what you really want to eat.
6. Order the right amount
Unless you eat out rarely, there are regular opportunities to enjoy meals away from home in amounts where you are satisfied but still feel comfortable.
We usually overestimate the amount we need to order and often over cater ‘just in case’. This is one of the reasons that two out three of us carry extra weight. We just don’t need as much food as we once did. And if it’s there, we tend to eat it.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s not necessary to order one main per person. Often 3 mains between four is enough, and one rice/ and or bread, per two people. It’s easy to get more if you need it.
Usually mains are better value than entrees and easier to share, and having dessert can push you over your comfortable range.
However, if there is a really good entree or dessert that’s worth including, you can probably cut back to one main per two people.
Having said that, this way of ordering only works if everyone is ‘on the same page.’ If people eat out rarely, are used to eating large amounts or feeling full at the end of meals, it can be too tricky. You might need to allow for groups of different age and gender.
Sometimes too, people will prefer just to order and eat their own, particularly if they have intolerances, allergies or strong food preferences.
7. Eat mindfully and stay aware of how satisfied and comfortable you are feeling
The first mouthful is always the best, but only if you enjoy it with all your senses. Think of the presentation, textures and flavours as you eat. Best not to talk and savour at the same time, as it’s hard to do both well.
But chatting between mouthfuls is a great way to eat more slowly, so is taking a sip of water between mouthfuls or putting down your cutlery. That way, you give your stomach time to give you feedback; there’s always a lag.
8. Leave dishes in the middle and let everyone serve themselves with what they need
This way, everyone can take just the right amount for them.
9. You don’t need to finish it all
If food is taken from the middle, once everyone’s taken what they will enjoy, there is often the option to take anything you have loved with you to enjoy again later.
(This is not usually the case with the ‘banquet’ option, another reason it’s not often the best choice).
10. Don’t starve and don’t get too hungry before you go out
It is much easier to order well and eat the amount you will enjoy, when you don’t let yourself get too hungry before you go out. Sometimes it even helps to have something small to eat, to tide you over. A piece of fruit or a low fat, no added sugar yogurt are ideal; both highly transportable, easy and low in kilojoules.
If you are thinking of your appetite/capacity like a petrol gauge, it’s good to stay 1/4 to 1/2 full.
Eating out often can be a real challenge for anyone trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Foods eaten away from home are quite a bit higher in kilojoules (extra oils, dressings, sauces and larger serve sizes), and often very morish. Add a relaxed mood and some alcohol and it’s easy to loose track of how full you’re getting. If you like to eat out regularly…(and who doesn’t if they can)…..you can find you are gaining a few extra kilos each year.
It gets even trickier if you are trying to actually lose weight, because to do that, you need to eat fewer kilojoules than what you use (which is not really so many these days). But it isn’t impossible to still lose weight and in fact a few good strategies can mean you actually have more success long term, because you don’t feel deprived. On the days when you plan to eat a meal away from home, it is a more realistic goal to just balance your kilojoules than to aim to create the negative kilojoule balance you need for weight loss. But you don’t need to count kilojoules to do this, instead it’s more useful to have a range of good strategies in your toolbox.
Look out for the next post for the ten top tips for sustainable weight loss when eating out…