Is eating out sabotaging your progress?

Is eating out sabotaging your progress?

I am sure we all know how much everyone loves a big old pizza from Pizza Express or all-you-can-eat Indian from that Indian Restaurant at the end of your road, but had it crossed your mind that this may not be the best option if you’re looking to reach your fitness goals and targets? Recent studies have shown that starters, mains and desserts often respectively contain a huge 674kcal, 813kcal and 429kcal, and if you do the maths that is a loooot(!) of calories (Cohen & Story; NHS, 2014). Going on the basis that the average human requires around 2000kcal a day, eating out frequently, whilst being unmindful, could be slowing your progress (Wu & Sturm, 2013).

Nonetheless it is key that you do not sacrifice your social life and enjoyment out of food purely to try and stick to the plan, because believe it or not, you can eat out and stick to it you just might have to think a bit more before ordering that extra-large pizza or stack of ribs. The one-off indulged meal is absolutely fine, sometimes it’s even very helpful in boosting your self-esteem, as progress is the average over a period of time as opposed to being directly affected by single events.

A lot of people find a quick 2 minutes to find and scan through the menu online before eating out so they have a rough idea of the options available, but if you’re short of time or enjoy the spontaneity of eating out it’s really not necessary to do. Generally lighter options eating out tend to be the salads (to make these even better ask for a reduced-fat dressing or omit the dressing completely), white-meat / fish grills, ‘lighter’ pizzas or tomato-based pasta dishes.

If you know you’ll be heading to the Indian take-out with your mates for dinner, think in advance and choose some lighter options that day. This could mean choosing solely an apple as a mid-morning snack rather than apple and snack bar or having a salad for lunch rather than your usual stuffed jacket potato.

Next time you’re in a restaurant, take the process of choosing a dish as mindfully as you can. Think about what’s in it but don’t let it affect your enjoyment of the food.


Cohen, D. A. & Story, M. (2014). Mitigating the Health Risks of Dining Out: The Need for Standardized Portion Sizes in Restaurants. American Journal of Public Health 104(4), p586-590. Accessed 21.02.2018. NHS. (2014). Restaurant dining ‘as calorific as fast food’. Retrieved from: Accessed 21.02.2018. Wu, H.W. & Sturm, R. (2013). What’s on the menu? A review of the energy and nutritional content of US chain restaurant menus. Public Health Nutrition Journal 16(1), p87-96. Accessed 21.02.2018.