Eating Out Mindfully

Restaurant Meal

Restaurants can be one of the greatest challenges of trying to eat healthy.  New labeling requirements have made us more aware of just how unhealthy some of our favorite dishes can be.  But eating out is part of our culture and it is a fun social event to go out to eat with our friends.  It is also an opportunity to try new foods that we don’t eat on a regularbasis and that should not be missed out on just because you feel like you won’t be able to make healthy choices.

I often hear from my clients that they don’t go out to eat because they fear they will make “bad” choices and overeat.  I tell them if you were dieting then I can understand how difficult it would be.  But I quickly remind them that they are not dieting.  Eating mindfully is about enjoying whatever foods you want, and knowing that the enjoyment can come guilt-free.  One of the best intuitive eating principles that can help you in a restaurant setting is “Respect Your Fullness.”  By eating what you really want to eat, not what you think you should eat, you will enjoy your restaurant experience and be able to stop when comfortably satisfied without risk of overeating.

It’s easy to get distracted when eating out.  You might be wrapped up in conversation and eat more than you expect because you were not paying attention to your food.  Here are some strategies to increase your consciousness while eating:

  • Be aware of how hungry you are when you sit down.  Sometimes restaurants make you wait for a long time before seating you at a table, and then you still have to wait for your food once you get there.
  • Never arrive overly hungry or it will be harder to identify when you had enough. Have a small snack before you leave home.
  • Wait to take bites between conversations so you can be aware of the food you are eating.
  • Pause mid-meal and ask yourself if you are still hungry.

Eating out is fun and can be included in a healthy eating lifestyle.  All food and food related activities have their place in mindful eating, and as you continue on this journey, you will see how you will enjoy food socially more than ever before, without the guilt and the uncomfortable fullness!

If you are interested in learning more strategies to help you get off the diet roller coaster, request your Free – Break Free of Dieting Strategy Session Here.

Your turn to take action:  How will you increase your consciousness while eating out?

7 replies
  1. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I think there is the feeling that you’ve paid for your meal so you have to clean the plate, yet, at home you’ve still paid for the food but find it easier to leave some!

    • Bonnie R. Giller
      Bonnie R. Giller says:

      Ah, yes, the “clean the plate” club. I suggest to my clients that once they have identified their comfortable satiety point, then ask the waiter to pack the rest up to take home. One might also want to ask the waiter to bring half the portion to the table, and bring the other half packed to go.

  2. Linda Ann - Practically at Home
    Linda Ann - Practically at Home says:

    Here’s something I learned from a horse racing jockey. He sits down and divides his food immediately on his plate. That way, he already has purposed what he will enjoy now … and what he will take home for late.
    Those guys have to weigh in every day, and every ounce counts. Good lesson for some of us. 😉

    Visiting from the Ultimate Blog Challenge. We’re on the home-stretch for April!

  3. Gwynne Montgomery
    Gwynne Montgomery says:

    My parents raised me as part of the clean plate club. It took me years to get over that training. I think, ultimately, it’s very detrimental to children, and teaches them to ignore their body cues!

    I don’t eat out often, but when I do, I always have a take-home box, simply because I relearned to listen to myself!

    • Bonnie R. Giller
      Bonnie R. Giller says:

      So many well-meaning parents unfortunately use food as a reward or encouragement. You are correct, Gwynne, it does cause the natural instinct that we are all born with to become buried. Relearning how to tune into one’s bodily signals is key. Kudos for you for overcoming this challenge.

  4. Joy Healey
    Joy Healey says:

    I hold my hands up, another victim of the “You must empty your plate” club.

    I’m getting over it! About the only good thing I’ve found about getting older (or more mature LOL) is that I can no longer eat the 3-course restaurant meals I demolished in my teens and twenties.

    These days I can happily forgo a starter – and often even the dessert !


    • Bonnie R. Giller
      Bonnie R. Giller says:

      Hi Joy, it does take time getting over the “clean the plate” mentality. Getting older, or as you say “more mature”:) does help, although some people still have a hard time with this. Making a shift in one’s mindset is really what is needed. Thank you for your comments.


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