Well here we are, end of May '21 and open for business - socialising, mixing, hugging and eating out! It's a welcome return for many, but for some, the thought of going back to a restaurant creates anxiety; anxiety around what to choose from the menu, fear of lack of control, not knowing the calories in restaurant food or pressure from others to join in when we're trying to manage our eating etc. etc. Any of this sound familiar?
I've been hearing quite a bit of it from my clients lately, so I thought an article was in order. One of the main reasons we feel anxiety around eating out is due to lack of control and a fear of breaking our 'rules' around eating. When we're at home, doing our own shopping and cooking, we know what we're eating, we know it fits, we can count the calories, we can (mostly) stick to our plan and everything is fine. But when we look at a restaurant menu, we can become very anxious, often scrolling down the dishes trying to work out which will be the least damaging, the least fattening, the closest to what we are supposed to be eating. I spent years doing it. If I did choose something 'off-plan', I had to justify having earned it - because I'd been 'good' that day - or promise myself that if I had it, I would just eat less (or exercise more) the following day.
It's a huge shame that being weight and diet focussed makes us feel negative about going out to eat, something which should be such a pleasure!
So instead, let me put something to you. How do you react if I say "You can eat anything on the menu" What?! Of course I can't! I can't eat cheese (because that's full of fat), I can't eat dessert (because if I do I'll have blown it and I'll just carry on eating when I get home), I can't eat chips because they're really fattening, I'm so scared of eating anything like pizza - I'll definitely weigh more tomorrow." Maybe it's : "I can't have carbs because I've already had two slices of bread today," or I can't eat any more than one Syn tonight because I'm nearly over my limit for the day" (Slimming World aficionados will know what I'm talking about). And the dieting internal dialogue goes on and on...
We've waited such a long time to be able to go out and eat with friends, wouldn't it be so much better if you could let go of all this dieting chat and feel relaxed and calm around food?
Three years ago I got myself off a dieting treadmill by changing how I thought about food and my body. I discovered a mindful, intuitive approach and I have never looked back. I rejected all diets, plans, calorie counting and restriction. As I got better, I was able to go out and eat any food without worrying, never beating myself up afterwards or being restrictive with my eating the following day. It brought me a stable weight, calm relationship with food and a much, much happier person!
So, here is a simple EAT mantra for you to try:
E - everything, is available to you. Don't restrict your choices. Eat what you fancy.
A - appreciate, every mouthful and savour the experience, especially if you have chosen something you've not eaten for a while (or don't usually allow yourself)
T - trust in your hunger and fullness. Eat slowly enough to know when you're full and then stop. That's it, just stop.
If your head is stuck in a dieting cycle, one article isn't going to fix it, but hopefully it might be a start to build the awareness of what's happening in your head. A deeper understanding may help ease your anxiety, so that you ENJOY EATING OUT!
If you would like help getting out the dieting rut, then do get in touch with Lori: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact page on the website.