Saturday 2 June 2018

Eating healthier when out and about with the kids

As part of my recent lifestyle change and weight loss journey, I asked blogger, Neil Walsh for some tips for eating healthier when out and about with the children. The following post is a guest post written by him, do check out his blog for more tips for mums looking to lead healthier lives. 

Child eating burger

Summer is almost here which means that it’s time to try and make the most of the weather
and venture out of the house. Whether it is a family outing to the seaside, a National Trust
property or the thrills and spills of Alton Towers then there will be food choices to be made.
Often on days out it is much harder to eat healthily than it is to do so in the comfort of our
own homes.

So how do make healthy choices (without having to eat wilted salad all day)?

First things first. Let’s be honest here… willpower is pretty unreliable. When faced with
unhealthy choices more often than not we are going to be tempted… and, actually, that’s
fine. A lifestyle and diet without unhealthy choices would be pretty boring and the general
rule of thumb is that as long as your choices are 80% healthy then you can be less healthy
with the remaining 20%. But be warned, it is better to be conservative with this approach as it is very easy to accidentally drift into a 50/50 balance or worse. Making a plan and being
aware is the key to success here.

The easiest way to plan is to take your own food. Pack healthy choices and control most of
what you eat. A healthy pack lunch for the family, a supply of snacks and buying an ice
cream from a van should not blow your calorific budget for the day. On the other hand,
buying a snack from the glass cabinet when ordering a mid-morning coffee followed up by a
calorific fast food lunch could have you over your calorie budget for the day before you’ve
even had dinner.

But it is also possible to eat healthily without bringing your own food. Again it just comes
down to a bit of planning. If you do happen to be going to Alton Towers (like Jen!) then food
choices are going to be limited. One of the options there is The Explorers Pizza and Pasta
Buffet. ALL YOU CAN EAT! If you have a weakness for pizza (which I definitely do!) and you
can't stop once you have started then this might be a place to avoid. 

Having this in mind before you go is crucial as on the day when you are hungry and in need of a rest than being faced with sitting down and offered endless pizza is only going to have one result!

Try these guidelines for making healthy choices when eating out:

  • Plan a healthy snack before lunch so you are not starving when you do eat.
  • Try to look at menus online before you go to help you plan a more informed decision. Try to avoid panic buying that ½ pound bacon and onion ring burger!
  • Don’t be scared to try something different / healthier. Notice I said “healthier”, not healthy. If you always order the same thing when you go out then there may be healthier options that do not involve a drastic change to what you like to eat. E.g, a Big Mac, medium fries and medium coke comes in at around 1,015 calories. Swap that for a McChicken sandwich, small fries and diet coke and even have a salad shaker too and you are still only at 644 calories, a saving of 371 calories. Small savings in calories can all add up to a significant positive impact on your health.
  • Know where the calories come from. Calories in a Big Mac = 508. How many in large fries? 444! So you could almost eat two Big Macs for the same calorific cost as a Big Mac and fries… and you will be much fuller after two Big Macs! Don’t accidentally order calories.
  • If you are unable to scope out a menu beforehand then a helpful rule is that simple is usually healthier. Meat and veg will almost always be healthier than processed and cheese sauce.
  • Don’t be afraid to be ask for what you want. When ordering, ask for dressings on the side, ask to swap fries for veg, ask for half portions, most places are very accommodating.
  • Drink water. Drink water all day! Drinking water will help to fill you up, keep you hydrated/feeling good and has much lower calories than sweet options. If you take your own bottle or ask for tap water then you can save money and reduce plastic waste too!

So there we have it. Don’t rely on willpower. Plan ahead. Drink water. Perhaps just as importantly, if it all goes horribly wrong and you end up having a 4,000 calorie day then don’t beat yourself up or give up on trying to eat healthily. Don’t turn one bad day into a bad week. We all have bad days. The best-laid plans will often not turn out the way we hoped… it’s part of being human. 

It is getting back on the horse again that makes the difference… not eating another horse the next day!

Neil Welsh knows how to get what mums want. Lose weight, encourage your kids to eat healthy food and create habits that last. To start now, check out for more info!

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