How to Eat Out on a Plan (WITHOUT Feeling Deprived!)
Yesterday was just an awesome day. Lately, I’ve been working on sleeping early after my shift (at around 9:15 to 9:30pm) and waking up early (about 4:30am) to workout at the gym by 5AM. It was daunting to try out this schedule at first because I always believed that waking up at 5AM was just “unhuman” or that only “people who were born motivated” can do it. But that is simply not true!
The only thing that made that impossible for me was my thinking about it. Because I did not believe I could do it, I never did it. But because I set a plan for myself and decided that I wanted to start working out early to get all my tasks completed for the day, I created that determination for myself to follow through.
The same is true for your weight loss. You create a plan ahead of time, and you follow through with it. That is literally the simplest way to do it! But what makes it so difficult to follow is our thinking about it. “I won’t be able to follow through,” or “I can only eat boring and bland foods,” or “I deserve a treat since I’ve been eating so good all week.” Notice how thinking these thoughts can create a negative feeling for you. Do you feel inspired when you think to yourself “I won’t be able to follow through?” Probably not. This is actually what I experienced for myself yesterday when it came time to enjoy my “joy eat.”
In case you don’t know, I follow a “plan” for my food. But this is NOT your basic “meal plan”. What that means is, I plan everything I eat 24 hours ahead, which allows me to access my “planning”, or “highest” part of my brain, and I am VERY deliberate about what I’m eating.
I don’t eat anything off my plan.
Once a week, however, I will allow myself to have what is called an “exception eat” or a “joy eat”. This will allow people who are “on plan” (especially if they are trying to eliminate sugar and flour from their diet) to mitigate their cravings for very sugary and flour and highly concentrated foods that we love to eat. Planning for a “joy eat” also allows me to be more conscious of the food choices I’m making, especially when it comes to choosing which “junk food” I want to eat every week.
Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to Tar and Roses in Santa Monica for our weekly date night!
The food looked AMAZING and the reviews were GREAT!
But, I was absolutely terrified to go.
I was terrified because I had been following my plan precisely and diligently this week. And what ends up usually happening when I go off plan is that I end up gaining like 4 pounds the next day, and it literally takes weeks to go back to my regular weight after that. But what I did want to share with you all in today’s blog post is the epiphany I had yesterday. You ready? I can actually enjoy eating out without depriving myself or feeling guilty. Isn’t that crazy?
First of all, I want to explain where the feeling of “deprivation” comes from.
Deprivation comes from a thought.
Imagine sitting at a restaurant table with friends gathered around you. In front of you is a warm, chocolate chip, toffee, & macadamia nut cookie (made fresh out of the oven!) sitting right in front of you, paired with a whopping scoop of caramel fudge ice cream. And then imagine this — that the waiter tells you that you can’t eat ANY of the dessert for 30 minutes, or else you’re going to gain 100 lbs. But you have to sit there and just stare at this cookie and this ice cream until the 30 minutes is over. ON TOP of that, imagine that everyone else NEXT to you is allowed to eat the ice cream! But you can’t (for 30 minutes), or else you’ll gain 100 lbs. instantly.
What would you tell yourself in this situation?
For the longest time, I would have told myself things like, “It’s not fair that I can’t eat this while everyone can!” or “It’s not fair that I have to eat healthy food and everyone else can eat whatever they want!” or “This looks so good, I wish I could eat that!” But all of those thoughts were literally creating feelings of deprivation for me because I was choosing to believe that I didn’t HAVE a choice in this matter.
That everyone else sucks and that eating healthy sucks and that life sucks.
The truth is, I have control over my eating 100% of the time.
I can eat whatever the heck I want. Always.
But I was just choosing NOT to because I had goals. And yet, I was beating myself up and telling myself thoughts that literally CREATED deprivation and restriction for myself. So yesterday, here’s exactly what I did to enjoy my dining experience with my boyfriend.
I looked at the menu & planned what I was going to have for my meal.
My typical meals are high in fat and low in carbs because that is the diet that produces the best weight loss results for me. So, I looked at the menu the night before and picked my food ahead of time. I chose meals that were higher in fat, lower in carbs, and primarily meat-based dishes.
I decided my joy eat would be something sweet.
For my joy eat, I wanted to eat something sweet because I rarely eat flour or foods that are high in carbs. So I really wanted to treat myself and decided to go with the Strawberry Ricotta Crostata with Honeycomb Ice Cream, which had amazing reviews! It’s literally a crispy croissant with ricotta cheese and strawberries on top, mixed with the godliest morsel of ice cream you can ever imagine. But I was very intentional about this. I decided exactly which dessert I wanted ahead of time and committed to that choice.
I ate when I was hungry, and stopped eating when I was full.
The only reason why I gained so much weight in the past after dining out would be because I believed I wasn’t capable of stopping myself from overeating when amazing food was in front of me. But the trick to doing this is really understanding your body’s hunger signals and getting very good at knowing when your body is actually hungry and when it’s actually full. Paying more attention to your stomach and asking yourself if you are actually hungry when you THINK about eating is a very powerful tool that has been so helpful in my personal weight loss journey.
I ate my joy eat mindfully, bite to bite.
Every bite of my Crostata was aware, intentional, and deliberate. I took the time to really taste it. To register & process it. And to enjoy it. I didn’t rush the process, because there was no hurry. I simply took time to enjoy the dessert. And I observed how every single bite made me feel.
So what ended up happening?
I ate the meals above (split with my boyfriend) and felt satisfied! I had braised lamb belly, venison, and oxtail dumplings (pretty darn amazing, I do have to say), and felt content. But the real “test” was when it came time for the crostata. I was legitimately fearful that somehow, I was just going to “lose all control” and eat everything in front of me.
But then, something crazy happened. That didn’t happen. In fact, the OPPOSITE happened.
I was able to FULLY enjoy and fully embrace the meal with every bite. I ate every bite mindfully and actually enjoyed it so much more than if I devoured it in 5 seconds (which was what I always used to do with desserts). The thing is, I was mindful about how I ate, and that allowed me to really savor and enjoy the taste. Eating the dessert became an experience. I was only eating half of the Crostata (I had split it with my boyfriend), but when I was a little more than halfway through my piece, I felt it.
My stomach was full. And I stopped eating.
It was literally the most powerful dessert eating experience I’ve ever had. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten a dessert that was insanely delicious but did not eat the entire portion of it! I was so amazed. My body sensed that I was full. So I paid attention. I stopped eating it. And then realized that I was able to enjoy the experience of eating it without having to eat the entire thing. My body decided, “This is enough,” and I agreed. Without hesitation. Without guilt. And without deprivation.
It was such a powerful experience for me, because for the first time ever I felt completely free from overeating at a restaurant. I wasn’t afraid anymore. My thinking was not of deprivation. I didn’t feel bad that there was still a piece of the dessert on my plate. I didn’t feel like I was missing out. In fact, I didn’t think much of it at all. I just thought, “Oh, I’m full. I’m not going to eat anymore. That was yummy.” And that was the end of it.
I’m sharing this experience with you all because this was never the case for me before. Dessert would never be left unfinished on my plate. Dessert was always eaten, even if I was so full I couldn’t move. But because I developed awareness of my deeply ingrained eating habits and changed my thinking about food, I was able to enjoy the same exact experience of my meal and my dessert without having to eat the entire dish. And if I could do that (me — a recovering “carbaholic”), I truly believe that any one can.
If you are a busy nurse who is still struggling with feeling deprived or guilty about food and would like 1:1 personalized guidance on how to move forward, click here to schedule your free online strategy session with me! There are no obligations, whatsoever. Just me & you working together to find your permanent weight loss solution! Click here to start losing weight now!