In today’s world, most people of the younger generation tend to eat out more often than their parents did. If you are an upwardly mobile corporate professional or businessman or businesswoman then traveling around the world for business trips is taken for granted. Whereas our parents would have done zero to a handful of trips abroad during their lifetimes, today’s generation does a minimum of four or five outstations trips in a single year! When you are out traveling whether for business or leisure, every meal that you eat will be at a restaurant or someplace else. According to me, it is indeed possible to travel the world and also not put on weight if you are mindful of your eating patterns. Below are some tips and tricks to make sure that you do not undo the good work that you do when you are in your home city.
While growing up we were told not to waste food because food is a gift from God. We were reminded of the many millions who went hungry whereas we had food on our plates. But in today’s world of abundance, that attitude of polishing off every last morsel on our plates can end up killing us. Be strong enough to leave food on your plate even though you have paid for it. Your body will thank you for it.
When ordering at restaurants, always go through the menu carefully to see what side orders come with the main dish. If items like fried rice, fries, pasta or other starchy foods are on the side-items list, tell the waiter to substitute them with vegetables or salads. If you do not check in advance and the side orders make an appearance on your table, it is human nature to eat them if you do not intend to do so. In my opinion it is far easier not to let those items appear on the table in the first place.
If you are eating alone, then it would be a good idea to ignore the items on the main course and choose only the soup or appetiser menu. If one plate of appetisers are not enough then have two or combine a soup + appetiser. The appetisers often have a wide range of flavours and they rarely come with too much carbs. When you are ordering soups, try and be a bit more careful. Avoid thickened soups because many chefs use cornstarch as a thickening agent. If you are traveling to the US, UK or Australia and if you are mindful of your weight, it is a good idea to avoid main courses because serve sizes in these countries tend to be enormous. In other countries where serve sizes may be smaller, do not be ashamed to leave food on your plate if you have had enough.
When you are at a restaurant, inform the waiter beforehand that you do not want to have chips or fries even though they may be included in your meal choices. If you ask, they may substitute French fries with sautéed veggies or salad. If unwanted food items still appear on your plate, simply pick up a spoon and a fork and transfer them to a side plate and then ignore them much as you would ignore an unwanted guest!
Fast food franchises such as Pizza Hut, Dominos, McDonalds etc. are to be avoided wherever possible. In my opinion the only good thing that these restaurants provide to the public are clean ‘convenience rooms’! Even if you do end up at a fast food outlet by using their washroom amenities, order the ‘least dangerous’ items on the menu. Order a salad if it’s available or else just eat the burger patty and throw away the bun! Do not order colas or sodas if you are thirsty. A can of mineral water, tea or even sugar free coffee is a good option when you want to drink something.
If you are traveling with your spouse or a friend, eating out is much simpler. Portion control i.e. eating small meals is the best way to control your weight. A good idea to control portion sizes and ensure that you don’t overeat and stuff yourself with far too many calories is to order one main course and order one spare plate between the two of you. It may look cheeky or even cheap but then you will end up saving calories and maintaining your weight. You also end up saving some cash! But that is a bonus and not the main intention. Another option is to order a main course and a side salad or appetiser. Appetisers are meant to be shared. Once you get the extra plate, you can then share your main course as well! When you are eating as a pair, you can also share your food preferences. Your partner who can afford to eat the high-carb items can eat them whereas you can go for the lean proteins and salads. Trust me, at times you will realise that even when you share a main course between two people you will still end up leaving food on the plate! Remember that food is the smallest cost in running a restaurant. Chefs and Hotel Managers have a policy of serving large quantities to ensure customers return.
Hotel breakfasts can vary widely – from excellent buffets to lousy breakfasts of stale idlis and instant coffee! Breakfasts can also be extremely pricey. If the hotel is a five star chain then most breakfasts are complimentary and needless to say the breakfast buffets in five star hotels are amongst the best in their cities. As long as you manage to eat moderately and avoid all the high calorie items you should do fine. If you are staying at a budget hotel then it makes sense to inquire at the reception about the nearest diners, cafes and restaurants. Walk to the nearest option. The walk will not only double up as your morning exercise but will also stoke your appetite for the biggest meal of the day!
When eating out, it pays to remember that the portion sizes that are heaped on your plate are not chosen by a Dietician to improve your health but are chosen by the chef to entice you to return back! If you follow the above tips when traveling you will not only save calories but also end up saving yourself the guilt of having put on weight and save yourself the enormous hard work of burning all those calories you put on!