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Mastering Cookout and Meal Out Strategies for Losing Weight

Healthy BBQ

It's the end of the day, work has been long and taxing on your patience and brain. You've got decision fatigue and just can't make one more choice, especially that age-old question of "What are we going to have for dinner?" You decide that takeout is it, but then you remember you've been working on losing weight and feel the guilt of ordering out. Don't worry; going out to eat is not going to deter you from your goals, especially after you read this blog! Let's talk about how to navigate meals out and away from home with ease so that on your next girls' night or graduation party, you don't derail your weight loss progress.

In this blog, we will cover:

How to plan your nutrition leading up to meals out

Navigating snacks and appetizers and what to look for

Choosing your main entrée

How to Listen to Your Body and Not Overeat While Away from Home

These areas are all things you can use at summer parties, cookouts, dinners out with family, or even while hosting a dinner party at home. Let's keep you on track!

How to Plan Your Nutrition Leading Up to Meals Out

For many, meals out and away from home can feel nerve-wracking, especially when working on losing weight and keeping it off for good. Sometimes, meals away from home can feel like the great unknown. You don't know what will be available, what's in the food, and how much you'll have. While it seems like a good idea to save up your calories and skip meals in preparation for these meals away from home, this is the opposite of what we should be doing if trying to lose weight and keep it off.

Saving calories and skipping meals do not stop your body from wanting food and giving you hunger and fullness cues. In fact, your body will still send you those signals even though you decided that breakfast and lunch aren't happening today. With less energy leading up to the meal, we can start to feel hangry, irritable, and light-headed. When we skip meals and save calories, the rational side of our brains shut off, and the only thing we think about is food. We can't stop thinking about food and may even start to feel like a bottomless pit once food gets put in front of us. You'll eat anything at that point!

If your goal is weight loss, you should be working to eat regularly leading up to those meals that are different from your normal routine. That means eating breakfast and lunch as normal, focusing on protein and fiber to help with long-term fullness. Then, we can go into that special meal not feeling ravenous but more able to make sound decisions about our meals that feel less like we are about to die if we don't eat anything and everything in front of us.

Navigating Snacks and Appetizers and What to Look For

My favorite part of meals away from home, especially cookouts and parties, is the appetizers. I am a snacky person, and these get-togethers are always a yummy opportunity to try a new snack or get a new recipe for a dip. But, for many people, this can be where our goals start to go down the drain. This is especially true if we've been saving up calories for the party; when the dips come out, mindless eating can set in.

What should we look for with these snacks and appetizers? Just like with regular mealtime, start to look for how you can create PCC on your plate for nutritional balance and density. Survey the spread first, but then see how you can pair together PCC. Maybe you'll grab Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip with carrots, celery, and a piece of sausage bread. That can be an easy PCC plate.

We can prevent overeating here by portioning out what you'll be eating before diving into the options. That means grabbing a plate or napkin and serving yourself first, then eating off the plate for greater awareness with meals instead of mindlessly munching off the spread. The appetizers are not meant to be your entire meal; think of them as a way to get some bonus nutrition before you sit down for a meal.

Choosing Your Main Entrée

Cookouts will usually have a variety of main entrée options. From the usual hamburgers and hot dogs to fish, steak, kabobs, or other delicious options. While the nutrition here is different between each of these options, there are ones we would recommend to help you get the most out of your meal and feel satisfied.

First, hot dogs and hamburgers tend to be the most popular option. If we are looking for the best source of protein and aiming for fullness out of the meal, we recommend the hamburger over the hot dog in this example. Hamburgers, even 80/20, will have at least 20g of protein and will lose some of the fat due to cooking losses from the grill. Hot dogs, although tasty, tend to have lower protein amounts in them (less than 10g per dog) and higher fat content (about 20g per dog). If you're looking to stay satisfied, then go with the hamburger. Or, think about pairing them together to get the protein and the taste you've been craving.

Chicken is usually very lean, along with fish, and steaks depending on the cut. These can all be great options and paired with a vegetable plus a carb like potato salad and 3-bean salad for a satisfying cookout meal.

How to Listen to Your Body and Not Overeat While Away from Home

While this can feel like a challenge, it does not have to be. Overeating at meals away from home usually will occur due to being around foods you usually don't keep in the house or from the lack of awareness around how much you're having due to distracted eating. The former is very common, especially for those who have a history of dieting and restriction. At get-togethers and parties, there are usually foods you probably wouldn't be keeping in your house. When you deny yourself of foods you like, like chips and ice cream, when you find yourself in situations where that food is plentiful, it can make it very hard to say no to them or control yourself around them.

While we are not encouraging you to swear these foods off, we do want to encourage you to have them! Portioning them out and knowing how much you're having, eating them slowly, and enjoying them can be ways to include these trigger foods and have them not be a big deal. There are no bad foods or foods that are off-limits, and once we recognize how we are feeling and what our bodies are telling us, it can be easier to have a healthy relationship with food.

Meals away from home can be scary, especially when you're trying to be healthier and lose weight. But, by following these tips, they don't have to be a reason for you to start over again on Monday. We are going to cover all this and more inside this month's masterclass training in our Nourished Membership on June 18th at 7:30 pm. Grab a spot in the Nourished Membership today and feel confident in every eating situation!"


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