I love to eat out.
It isn’t just the food. When I go out to eat with my husband it is often a good time to leisurely talk without the interruptions of everyday life. And, yes, I like the food. I get a lot of pleasure from the food that I eat out. Sure, I can make some things at home that I like. But, eating out is overall better most of the time. I only order food that I really enjoy, so I do love it.
And, yes, I can eat out without going overboard on calories. One of my favorite meals at Panera Bread consists of a half BBQ Chicken Salad, cup of turkey chili and a bag of potato chips. That is 610 calories. I could basically eat there every day and could make it fit into both calories and points. Of course, I don’t always have that meal. I don’t usually go wild there, but some things I eat are a little more (usually not more than 100 calories more for a meal, occasionally 200).
Still, when I eat lunch or dinner at home, I don’t usually eat 610 calories. Having 610 calories for a single meal really does put pressure to be careful on the rest of the day. And, even though I am careful, I usually end up eating a little more calories than I normally would. Of course, I could eat fewer calories at Panera. I could skip the chips and get a pickle instead, for example. But, I love the potato chips and rarely have them except there. If I ate at Panera every day I wouldn’t have chips every day but I eat there a couple of times a month.
My Weight Watchers week starts on Saturday. For last week, I ate out 6 times! Yes, that is unusual. Typically, we eat out on Saturday and Sunday. We go to our Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday morning, then have lunch. And, then we eat out on Sunday. I do plan those days to be higher calories and they usually are higher than the rest of the week. If I eat carefully for the rest of the week I can still have a calorie deficit. And, I need to be somewhat mindful when I eat out. It doesn’t have to be Panera level calories but I can’t go wild either. But, last week, I wasn’t that careful the rest of the week. On 3 days I was away from home (50+ miles away) during meal time and so ate out. I did try to watch it, but it put a lot of pressure on my eating. And, we had an extra dining out at Panera mid-week.
This week I decided in advance to eat out only 1 day of this week. Today is day 7 of my week and I have stuck to that. Last Sunday we went to Chili’s and I had a high calorie meal which recorded at 1721 calories! Normally when I go out on the weekends I aim for my meals out not to exceed about 1000 calories. Sometimes it is less (Panera) and sometimes a little more. I don’t usually eat 1700 calories. But, because I was eating out once this week I felt OK doing it.
Here is the thing. My average daily calorie count this week is 200 calories a day less than it was last week when I ate out 6 times. Again, most of my meals last week were not horrible in terms of calories. Four of them were under 1000 calories. The highest was 1090 calories. But, it put a lot of pressure on all my other eating for the rest of the week.
This week was so much easier when I was eating at home 6 out of 7 days. I was able to eat very freely at Chili’s. Usually I would eat less calories there. This was an exception. Even so, the other days were easy to manage since I wasn’t having to maneuver around a restaurant meal.
This was a good wakeup call to me that, as much as I love dining out, it makes it harder for me to lose weight. Yes, I love eating out at least twice a week. But, I do wonder if doing so I make things harder than they need to be. There are times when it is practical for me to eat out more than once a week. But, just routinely eating out every Saturday and Sunday sets me up for the whole rest of the week being more difficult. I’m going to work on cutting out one of the weekend meals for awhile. I will still occasionally eat out an extra time during the week if it makes sense given what I am doing. But, I will have more flexibility to easily do that if I haven’t already eaten out twice on the weekend.