MOST of us think that losing body fat means having to give up everything that we normally love eating.
And after a few days of eating tasteless rabbit food, we find ourselves binging on a giant Domino's and our diet is ruined – again.
Having a little of what you fancy is the key to sustainable weight loss – not denying ourselves delicious grub and then giving up.
"The idea of not being able to eat out when on a diet is a complete myth," Terri Ann Nunns previously told The Sun.
"Treating yourself to a meal at a restaurant doesn't mean you have to go off track."
The Hospital Group's Dietitian George Hamlyn-Williams said: “We know that eating out can be a challenge for people watching their weight, often looking straight to the salad section of the menu – but it really doesn’t need to be that way.
"Many menus now offer a wide variety of meals, from low calorie to high protein, you just need to know what to look out for.”
Here are George and Terri's best options across the board:
A family favourite, nowhere does a deep-pan pizza quite like Pizza Hut.
While you may want to avoid the cheese stuffed crust offerings if you want to shed body fat, you can still find a tonne of dishes to order.
You can just about order a slice of any pizza for under 220kcals, while dishes like mac 'n' cheese weigh in at 410 kcals a pop.
Healthier option: 3 slices of Small Classic Sourdough Chicken Supreme and Mixed Leaf Salad (404 kcals)
Cheap and cheerful, Weatherspoons is a go-to for those of us who don't want to spend a fortune on a meal out.
Their menu is split into different "clubs", from curry to fish, and each of these is held on a different day.
Usefully, everything at the pub chain is clearly labelled with calorie counts.
Healthier option: Jacket Potato with Five-Bean Chili and Salad (405 kcals)
Yep, you can still have a cheeky Nando's – even if you are watching your weight, with the Portuguese-style chain offering a whopping 45 dishes under 500 kcals.
A quarter chicken breast is only 278 kcals, while lots of side dishes are also under 300 – meaning that you can easily build a high-protein, low-calorie meal.
Healthier option: Grilled Chicken Breast in a Pitta (with Chargilled Veg and Mixed Lead Salad) (401 kcals)
Zizzi has a whole menu dedicated to meals under 600 calories… but doesn't contain any pizza.
If you want to cut the kcals there, go for a chicken skewer or breast, seabass fillets or a slow-roasted lamb shank.
Oh, and they've also got a tonne of light puddings to round things off.
Healthier option: Non-Gluten Super Zucca Salad (500 kcals)
Harvester has so many menus – a main, breakfast, takeaway, set, Sunday Roast – you name it, they've got it.
It's come a long way since the days of largely serving up roasts.
In fact, it's actually got a whole menu of dishes that are under 705 calories and are "guaranteed to make you feel good".
Choose from tofu, halloumi, salmon, steak or chicken and decide on whether you want a small or large bowl.
They each come with roasted butternut squash, quinoa, chargrilled tenderstem broccoli and soya beans, fresh leaves and a pineapple and a ginger dressing.
Healthier option: Salmon Feel Good Bowl (550 kcals)
Fancy a Friday supper down your local Beefeater? It's got quite a few high-protein, low-calorie options on its menu – including sides and starters.
Healthier option: Grilled tuna steak (404 kcals)
You can still celebrate the end of the week by going down to TGI's but you may want to swerve the milkshakes and elaborate-looking puds.
Healthier option: Crispy Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken or Shrimp (600 kcals)
Who doesn't like a steaming bowl of noodles when it's a bit nippy outside?
Wagamama has a vegan menu as well as a regular one, offering everything from salads and curries to bowls of dunburi and ramen.
There's a massive difference in calories between certain dishes.
While everyone loves a chicken katsu, it contains a whopping 1180 calories a bowl – fine if you're having it as a treat but not exactly diet-friendly. Swapping the creamy sauces and mounds of refined white rice for clear sauces and less-carb heavy options is an easy way to cut down on the excess.
Healthier option: Yasai Yaki Soba with Rice Noodles (490 kcals)
ASK has two lighter menus – one for pasta and one for pizza.
Their Prima Light pizzas are "made with less dough and more rainbow", all coming in slightly smaller sizes and with a rainbow salad.
They're each under 550 calories.
Choose between ham and egg, goat's cheese, and chicken breast and pancetta.
Healthier option: Pollo Milanese (480 kcals)
George's tips for eating out
George's top tip is to pay attention to the sauce.
At Nando’s, Mango and Lime has the highest sugar content, while its Extra Hot sauce has the most calories and saturated fat.
Keeping an eye on these little extras will help you stay healthy when dining out.
His other tips include:
- “Opt for tomato-based sauces instead of those containing cream, cheese, or coconut milk.”
- “Ask for certain components of the meal to be prepared differently if possible – such as poached eggs instead of fried, or baked potato instead of chips on the side.”
- “Go ‘bun-less’ when ordering burgers and swap out chips for a side salad.”
- “Avoid absentmindedly adding dressings or condiments to meals.”
- “Opt for leaner sources of protein, like grilled chicken or white fish, instead of pan-fried steak which will be higher in calories and saturated fat.”
- “Avoid starters that contain lots of cheese or batter, and instead opt for a healthier vegetable-based dish.”
Who doesn't like a carvery?
Toby Carvery does have the potential to be a diet nightmare with the option to king size your roast, but it also offers some healthy, well-portioned dishes.
Just try to say no to the nachos in the giant Yorkshire pud starter.
Healthier option: roast turkey with Jersy royal potatoes, mixed greens, cabbage and sprouts (502 kcals)
Frankie & Benny's
American grub does tend to be a little on the fatty side but F&B's now has a fancy new Feel Good Range full of lighter, healthier options.
The new range includes protein-packed salads, wraps (Cajun Chicken and BBQ Cheese Chicken) and healthy sides.
Healthier option: Skinny prawn pizza from the Feel Good range (433 kcals)
It's also worth saying that there are a tonne of lighter options at places like Itsu, which offers 50 dishes under 500 kcals, offering fish-heavy, Omega 3-rich plates.
It's worth saying that calories really aren't everything when it comes to deciding which options are healthiest.
Nutritionist Alix Woods' recommends Itsu as a go-to lunch option, saying that the fatty acids found in many fishy dishes help to nourish and repair brain cells, focus the mind and increase concentration.
Fish is also high in Vitamin B12, which keeps the brain ‘happy’ and staves off bouts of depression, anxiety and brain fog.
So if you're out and about at lunchtime rather than for dinner, Itsu may be your best option.
Nutritionist Sarah Flower told us that while calories are "king" for weight loss and weight maintenance, "they don’t take into account the nutrient composition of the food – which is equally important for health and well being".
"As a nation, we still consuming too much cholesterol-raising saturated fat, blood pressure raising salt, added or newly termed free sugars and not enough gut-healthy fibre and nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables.
"Use this calorie information as a steer to your food choices, but where possible cook from home using quality plant foods ingredients (whole grains, pulses, nuts, seeds and fruits and vegetables), so you know exactly what is going into your food."
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