Tips to Survive Eating Away from Home – Dining Out, Parties, and Eating on the Road

Life is full of temptation – it’s impossible to avoid it.  Being healthy and losing weight does not mean you have to give up your social life and being with the people you love.  It’s all about developing habits and strategies which allow you to have the best of both worlds.  To have your cake and eat it too, so to speak.   This starts by recognising the times when you are most vulnerable, and putting plans in place for managing these times.

This information is designed to act as a jumping off point to help you successfully navigate dining out situations.  With time and practice you will develop your own healthy habits and  strategies, which will allow you to enjoy a full social life while still enjoying the benefits of keeping in control.

Eating on the Road:eating in the car

If you spend a lot of time in the car it can be difficult to find meals and snacks that fit with a healthy lifestyle.  As with anything, preparation is the key to success.  Mum’s with toddlers know that leaving the house without plenty of snacks can quickly lead to a nightmare outing, so take a leaf out of their books and pack your car or your handbag with healthy, transportable snacks.

  • Low fat Muesli bars
  • Pots of fruit salad (in juice)
  • Pottles of yoghurt (a thermo lunch bag is ideal for keeping things cold)
  • Small bags of nuts, or dried fruit and nuts (not scroggin –you’re not tramping)
  • Small bags of pretzels, or home-popped popcorn

Making a stop at the Supermarket –

  • Tins or pouches of flavoured tuna
  • Serve yourself mixed salad leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mixed bean salad or low fat potato salad from the deli
  • Wholegrain roll
  • Slice of low fat ham, or chicken
  • Low fat coleslaw
  • Piece of fresh fruit
  • Bottle of water

Making a stop at a Dairy –

  • One Square Meal
  • Pottle of low fat yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit, or a pottle of fruit (in juice)
  • Bottle of water

Making a stop at a Petrol Station –

  • Meat and Salad Roll (beware of mayonnaise)
  • Sushi
  • Fruit Salad (in Juice)
  • Trim Latte, or Flat White
  • Bottle of Water


Dinner Parties, Special Occasions and BBQ’s:

Dinner parties, BBQ’s and special occasions can be a real weight-loss roadblock for some people.  A ‘bad night’ is sometimes all it takes to completely throw you off the rails with no sign of return, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  With a little bit of nous, and some pre-planning, there’s no reason your evening out  should impede your efforts.

  •  As with dining out at a restaurant, have something light to eat before you get there.  You’ll be much less likely to fill up on high energy nibbles before the main meal (which, you’ll then of course have to eat)
  • Try to avoid the nibbles all together
  • Call the host ahead and ask they would like you to bring anything such as a salad.  At least you’ll know that there’s something there you can fill up on.
  • Get in the kitchen and ask the host if you can help serve up.  You’ll get a chance to check out what’s on offer and plan your choices, and if the meal is being served on the plate you can dish yourself up a smaller portion.
  • While the others sit around the table and pick at the leftovers, get off your butt and offer to help clear the table.  By the time you’re done with the dishes the leftovers will be gone, and you’ll have successfully avoided the temptation to mindlessly graze.
  • If the event is being held at your place, make sure you stock up on Glad containers.  Fill up two for each guest and send them home with the leftovers.  One container of mains and one of dessert, and you’ll have successfully avoided days of picking at the leftovers in your fridge.
  • You could of course discreetly let the host know that you’re trying to lose weight….
  • Buffets can be a real trap for over eating.  Steal a chance to have a good look at the buffet before you go up to eat and decide what you’re going to eat.  Pile up on the salad and veggies, and choose smaller cuts of lean meats.  Avoid lots of creamy sauces and dressings.

Going to the Movies:

Eating while watching movies, either at the theatre or at home, is a habit which can cost you precious kilojoules when trying to lose weight.  It’s far too easy to become engrossed in what you’re watching and forget to pay attention to how much you are eating.  Popcorn, especially, can be very moorish, and is high in salt and fat,  while fizzy drinks are high in sugar.  As with anything, a little bit of prior preparation can save you many extra hours sweating it out at the gym or pounding the pavements working off a night out with friends.

  •  Pack your own healthy snacks such as natural, or lightly salted popcorn, or cut fruit and vegetables
  • Eat before you go
  • Go just after dinner so the munchies are less tempting
  • Only take enough cash for your ticket and a bottle of water

Morning tea shouts & after work drinks:

The workplace can be a real minefield for those losing weight.  Morning teas are often full of high sugar/high fat foods, and after-work drinks can be an excuse for some of us to over-indulge in alcohol.  Morning teas and work drinks are about socialising with your workmates, not eating and excessive drinking.  Putting a few of these clever strategies in place will help you to enjoy these social situations and come out the other side (relatively) guilt free.

  • If you know you are having a morning tea shout have a large healthy breakfast, containing a good portion of protein, so you will be less hungry come smoko time, and less tempted by what’s on offer.
  •  Allow yourself one small savoury, eat it slowly and count it as part of your lunch.
  •  Choose less energy-dense foods like fruit, vegetables, or bread-based snacks such as club sandwiches. Pastry based savouries and cakes are loaded with kilojoules.
  •  Offer to bring a plate yourself.  Load it up with fruit kebabs, pita breads and low fat hummus, and vegetable sticks.
  •  Serve yourself a plate, then stand as far from the snacks table as you can.  It’ll help to curb mindless grazing.
  •  When heading out to after-work drinks, have something healthy but substantial to eat before leaving work.
  •  Alcohol is considered an ‘empty kilojoule’, meaning it gives your body energy but little else in terms of nutrition.  Sip water, or lime juice and soda in between drinks to help space out drinks and reduce your consumption.
  •  Arrive with a number in mind.  Decide before hand how many drinks you are going to have, and stick to it.
  •  If you drink spirits, choose top-shelf brands and have with water rather than sugar-laden mixers, or choose diet mixers.
  •  Buy wine by the glass, and treat yourself to something nice.  You’ll be more likely to sip and enjoy it.

Eating out at a restaurant:

dining out







Going out for a nice meal can be a great way to relax and catch up with friends or family.  A ‘bad night’ however can do serious damage to a persons weight-loss mindset, undoing weeks or months of hard work.  Spending time with friends and family should be about socialising not over-indulgence, so try a few of these strategies next time you head out to help keep you on the rails and guilt-free.

  • Check out the menu before you get there.  Most restaurants have their menu online, or will happily fax you a copy if you ask.  You can plan ahead what you’re going to order, and decide on any questions you might need to ask the wait staff before you get there.
  • What you order will occasionally be influenced by what those around you order.  If in a big group, try sitting next to someone you know will be a good influence on you.  Having a look at the menu before you get there will help to overcome this outside influence.
  • Try to have something light to eat before you get there.  If you arrive ravenous you’ll be more likely to order with your stomach rather than your brain.  “Saving up” your kilojoules for the day is likely back-fire resulting in you over-eating.
  • Try sharing a meal with a friend.  Don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff if you can have one meal spilt between two (or three) plates.
  • Ask questions.  Ask the wait staff what’s in the food, and how it’s prepared.  Don’t be afraid to ask if you can have a healthier side (baked potato instead of fries), or have salad dressing served on the side.  If you don’t feel comfortable asking questions in front of the group have a look at the menu before you get there, and call the restaurant ahead to sort out your queries.
  • Choose lighter options, and beware of creamy sauces and soups.
  •  Try ordering two entrees instead of an entree and a main.  You’ll finish the meal feeling more satisfied than stuffed.
  • Eat slowly and pt your cutlery down between mouthfuls. It’ll give you a chance to join in the conversation
  • Alcohol can be a kJ trap.  Order a more expensive glass of wine or a top shelf spirit and enjoy it slowly over the course of the meal.  Make sure you drink plenty of water, or soda with fresh lime to avoid over-indulging in alcohol.
  • If you need to finish with something sweet have a trim hot chocolate or caramel latte, rather than a whole dessert

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