One problem when on calorie restriction is that you can become a bit of a recluse. At the start you get so focused on your numbers that eating anywhere else except your own home starts to worry you. Coupled with that is the thought that if I eat 810 calories instead of 800 that the 10 calories will result in about 10Kg weight gain overnight. In some ways you go from an addiction to 3000 calories a day to an addiction to 800 calories a day – this is something that does gave me a bit of concern given my overly addictive personality. Eventually you have to face up to the reality that you are going to have to eat out somewhere that is not your home and you won’t be able to control the calorie intake…….. or will you.
Most restaurants these days have menus on line that can be viewed or downloaded before you go to them. For me it serves two purposes, firstly I can see if there is anything that I really want to eat and secondly I can ‘run the numbers’ on what I propose to eat and see how close I can get to 800 calories. OK, so the menu may not have a calorific breakdown of each ingredient, but you can be smart and guess. At this point I want to make a comment, and I think it is really an important one when talking about calorie restriction. You are playing the long game here, it is a journey, and blips will happen, and they don’t matter, they don’t matter one little bit at all. If you go out and eat 1000 calories one night, the pleasure you will get from eating out with friends, eating food you haven’t had to weight out carefully will far outweigh any effect on your weight (which won’t happen anyway).
Now saying all the above, eating clever is the name of the game. Avoid the chips, have a salad. If you really must have chips then don’t eat them all, and if you do it doesn’t matter. High carb really is what you are trying to limit here, so probably best to steer clear of the pasta and rice dishes and a big bowl of spuds, which may be an issue if you have ended up in an Italian restaurant or an Indian. But you know what, if you go for that house special, prawn pilau, it doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter, because tomorrow you will be going back to your 800 calories a day and that will be way less than your body needs, and so you will continue to lose weight, you see, it doesn’t matter.
My first encounter at going out whilst on my FAST800 was to a lovely Asian fusion restaurant. I had been given a voucher by a wonderful group of people for this restaurant and I had been looking for an excuse to use it. For some reason over the past year I had received a lot of vouchers for eating holes, I obviously looked like someone who enjoys food (correct). My excuse to use the voucher was for a friend coming over from Finland to do some work with me and I had been promising him a meal in Galway.
Starters were ordered – wok fried tofu, high protein, minimal carbs, full of taste. Main course, Thai red curry, house specialty. Again, minimal carbs and full of flavour. But there, staring back at me was a bowl of rice, nice steaming jasmine rice. White and fluffy, like a freshly groomed poodle, it entranced me with puppy dog eyes. I knew it was going to be there, had seen it listed on the menu both before I went and on the night and I had a plan – I wasn’t going to eat it. Just one spoon, won’t hurt anyway. I did quick food maths in my head, actually minimal calories. Second spoonful went in, tasted gorgeous, still having minimal impact on my calorie count. Next thing that I knew, it was gone, all eaten. Was I reverting to my addiction, had I just fallen off the wagon, had that fatal renewed hit of illicit substance ? Well, no I hadn’t.
One very subtle difference between this evening and my encounter with the 8 chocolate bars – tonight was a conscious decision to eat the rice, I knew what I was doing, I decided I wanted to eat the rice because I wanted to enjoy the meal, because in my long game of losing weight, in taking control and regaining my health, I knew one very important fact, it just didn’t matter.
Then a very strange thing happened. I have no idea if this was due to eating the rice, or a pure coincidence, but I went very light headed, the room began to spin. I had eaten almost no carbs for a month now and in a single hit have consumed 37g of carb, 75% of what I had eaten tonight was carb and for me it felt like I was having a sugar rush, a big serious sugar rush. It calmed down in 5 minutes and didn’t come back – was probably the food Gods reminding me of the pleasures of sugar. My total intake for the day – 1173 calories.
Waking up the next morning, I was somewhat hesitant to stand on the scales, but I had made a vow to do it. I was up 0.1kg. Could one night out really do that to me, well yes it did, but I had also drank two litres of water with my meal, and I had finished eating at 10pm. Now, without trying to sound like a stuck record, it didn’t matter, and why not, well the following day, after sticking to my 800 calories, I was down 0.5Kg, with my blood sugar normal and my blood ketone levels high in the fat burning range.
Four weeks in – 13kg lost, halfway house. Looking and feeling good.
P.S. A few days later I had to eat out again because of work, lunch was 500 calories, was 200 calories over for the day. Guess what ? IT DIDN’T MATTER