When dealing with people that want to lose weight, by far the most important variable is consistency. Consistency triumphs over anything else, and if you don’t have it, no matter how ideal or optimal your whole plan is, it’s going to fail. In my experience, the thing that often ruins consistency the most for my clients is eating out. They’re following their plan just fine, until a social event appears and they can’t track their food. Most of the time, they magically appear much heavier than usual. Of course some of it is water, but we both know the calories were way higher than what they should be. So here’s a few tips to avoid ruining your diet every time to eat out:
1) Abandon the black and white mentally
This is biggest game-changer. This alone is half the article, but with a good reason: it’s by far the most important. When people eat-out and are unable to stick with their usual diet, they have the habit to think they’re off-diet, there’s nothing they can do, right? This is what makes it so problematic, and it’s a stupid way of thinking. It’s a logical fallacy normally referred to as false dilemma. It’s either black or white, one or zero, all or nothing.
This is obviously not true, just because you can’t follow your diet perfectly, doesn’t mean you’re “off-diet”. People have a tendency to have this mentally in everything in life, but in the context of dieting it is especially bad. Let’s consider 2 different people, they both go to a family dinner.
One has the off-diet mind-set, they doesn’t care how much they eat today, they’re just going to forget about dieting for the next few hours and enjoy. The other is still aware they are on a diet, and will try not to over-eat as best as they can. Let’s say both their maintenance calories are 2400, and they are in a 300 calorie deficit.
Person A, who didn’t care about what they would eat, ended up eating 2500 calories (trust me, it’s not that hard).
Person B, despite trying not to over-eat, ends up eating 1500 calories. It’s dinner time, so let’s assume they both ate 2/3 of their usual calories before going out to dinner. Person A had a total of 4100 calories, and person B had a total of 3100. Person A over-ate 1700 calories in relationship to their maintenance, while person B only over-ate 700 calories.
To put this in perspective, person A consumed enough calories to counter-act the deficit from the previous 6 days vs 2 days from person B. They both went to the dinner, and they both over-ate, and yet, the out-come in each one was massively different. While one had a set-back of almost a week, the other one was a weekend, 3 times as less. There’s no “on” and “off” switch, the more you eat, the more harm you’re going to do. Think about being in a business lunch, and you noticed you got a wine stain in your suit. Do you just say “F*** it”, and pour out the whole glass of wine? Of course not, you just try to limit the damage, it’s the exact same thing with dieting.
When you realize that there’s no “on” and “off” switch, there is a few more specific things you can to try to limit the amount of calories you consume: