- Chasing breakfast and lunch when you go out to dinner can seem pointless, and you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
- However, try to keep track of your usual serving sizes and don’t limit yourself too much.
- Nutritionist Alix Turoff recommends viewing your calorie goal as a weekly average rather than a daily goal.
- Read more elaborating here.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
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I track my calories for weight loss, but I allow myself some flexibility and evenings off. The problem is, when I know I’m going out for dinner and I’m not using up my calories for the day, I find it really hard not to think about ‘shit’ the whole day before. I know it doesn’t make any sense and I should try to have the same meals and snacks that I would if I cooked dinner for myself, but I always end up eating as much as there is the whole day a write-off. How can I change this mindset?
– Dieter with a dilemma
I know how you feel.
Eating out makes it nearly impossible to maintain a deficit thanks to all of the sneaky oils restaurants use to make the food so tasty, not to mention larger portion sizes, starters, side dishes, bread baskets, dessert and a glass of wine or three .
But what’s the point of going out for dinner when you ask for grilled chicken and steamed vegetables with tap water to drink?
It is good to allow yourself some flexibility in your diet. Balance is what makes it sustainable in the long run, but I know it’s hard not to write off all day when you know you will eventually exceed your calorie goal.
The problem is, while the occasional higher calorie meal shouldn’t ruin your progress, if it does mean you get off track with your breakfast, lunch, and snacks that day, you may not end up in a calorie deficit overall .
Do not deprive yourself of the “calorie bank”
I understand: what’s the point of counting calories knowing that dinner is going to beat your daily goal?
On days like these, you might want to take a break from weighing, measuring, and logging foods in a calorie tracking app, but try to keep track of portion sizes as if you were tracking.
I find this to be a great way to develop the skills that will ultimately help you step away from tracking in order to maintain your weight.
What is not a good idea, however, is to try to “save” calories for your dinner, as this can leave you feeling hungry and out of control that night, or even earlier.
I used to make the mistake of having a tiny breakfast and lunch before going out for dinner only to find in the late afternoon that I was starving and need to eat all of the snacks.
“Calorie cycling” allows you to factor in more calorie-rich days
According to nutritionist Alix Turoff, it can be helpful to think of your calorie goal as a weekly average rather than a daily goal.
That said, if your calorie goal is 1,800, you could have some days with 1,600 calories and other days with 2,000 calories, but the average will still be 1,800.
“Some people call this ‘calorie cycling,’ but the reality is that most people have days when they are more hungry and other days when they are less hungry and it makes sense that your intake will change from day to day even if your goal is is
“Turoff told Insider.
She said this approach can work well for people who want to eat higher calorie meals but still achieve their goals.
“By allowing some wiggle room, you could have days higher without sacrificing your goals,” said Turoff.
However, I know that if I eat out I will exceed my calorie goal by well over 200 and it would be too restrictive to try to balance the calorie cycle. So be sensible and remember that the occasional higher calorie meal will not affect your progress.
Try to eat mindfully
Turoff advises working on mindful eating as well and checking your hunger in the middle of a meal.
“If you’re nearing abundance but tempted to move on because you’ve already ‘lost your way, why not?” remind yourself that your intake may be fluid and maybe today is a higher calorie day, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t reach your goals this week, “she said.
It can also be comforting to remind yourself that every day doesn’t have to be a deficit, you can have a maintenance day too, Turoff said.
“It’s okay to prioritize a fun eating experience, even if it means temporarily delaying your weight loss goals,” she said. “What you don’t want is to feel guilty or have done something bad.”
Don’t get ready, healthy change takes time.
Wish you a speedy recovery
As a senior health reporter at Insider and a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic with an Association for Nutrition-certified nutrition course with her, Rachel Hosie delves into the wellness scene and is here to answer all of your burning questions. Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation to run, unsure about light or heavy weights, or worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the factual answers and Advice you need with no diets in sight.
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