Counting Carbs While Eating Out

Carbohydrates have a big impact on weight because they are broken down into glucose, which in turn raises your blood sugar. They are found in starches such as cereal, bread, and pasta, and in sweets such as cakes and cookies, but also in many “good for you” foods like fruit, starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, and corn, and dairy products including milk and yogurt. Learning how to accurately identify and count carbohydrates will help you lose and maintain your weight.

On my eating plan, having between 50 and 100g of carbs a day helps me to lose and maintain my weight.

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Tips for Counting Carbs Home or Away

You can buy a carb-counting book, use an online version, or download a smartphone app to see how many carbohydrates are in the foods you eat. You can also read the nutrition label on prepared foods to tally up the number of carb grams in each serving. You might have to guesstimating carbohydrates at a restaurant.

Here are tips to make tracking easier:

Use measuring tools. At home, use a food scale to weigh that apple or whole-wheat roll. Use a measuring cup to dole out your portion of cereal or pasta. When you measure the serving size, your counts are more accurate – and you learn what a ½ cup or 1 cup serving looks like. Keep the tools handy so you’re not searching for them at every meal. I don’t even need to bring cups with me anymore.

Use every day visuals. For example, a cup of fruit, starchy vegetables, or ice cream is about the size of a baseball or an average fist. A pancake or waffle is equal to a CD. Then you can look up your serving size using a carb-counting guide or smartphone app.

This also gives you a point of reference when you’re eating out. According to Melissa Joy Dobbins, RD, LDN, CDE, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “if you know what a cup looks like and how many carbs are in a cup of that pasta when you eat it at home, you can use that to guesstimate carb counts at the restaurant.”

Table(spoon) it. When you’re away from home, estimate your portion by counting tablespoons. Here’s the conversion:

4 level tablespoons is equal to about 1/4 cup,

8 tablespoons is 1/2 cup, and

16 tablespoons is 1 cup.

So 8 tablespoons of macaroni salad equals 1/2 cup and 30 grams of carbohydrates.

Do your homework. Before you head out to a restaurant, check out its menu online. Decide what you’re going to order, and then gather the nutrition facts for the ingredients to put together a guesstimate of the carbs in your meal. Many restaurant chains now put all their nutrition facts, including carbs, on their Web sites.

Mind the proportions. Know that the more grains and starches in a dish, the higher your carb estimate. For instance, you can count an 8-ounce cup of a broth-based soup as 15 grams of carbohydrate, while a thick soup with beans, lentils, or noodles should be counted as 30 grams.

There’s an app for that. There are many apps available. Many are free, and many can help you with counting carbs. For example, GoMeals provides three apps in one – a database of nutritional values (including carbs) of thousands of foods you’ll find at the grocery store and your favorite restaurants, a tool to track and record your meals, and a restaurant finder with menus and nutritional information.

Sweet Temptation

A great proverb:  ““Good habits result from resisting temptation

I can’t tell you how annoying it is when you are on a diet and someone (who KNOWS you are on a diet) offers you something NOT on your diet.

It happens all of the time.  Temptation.  Sabotage.  Whatever you want to call it.  It is annoying and it is real.

What can you do to prevent temptation?  10 Ways To Reduce Temptation:

1.  Never go anywhere hungry.  My father was thin and he used to go to dinner after eating a piece of chicken breast at home.  I always wondered why he did such a weird thing.  Eat before going out?  I get it now.  He was a reformed chubby kid and as an adult, he learned how to stay thin.  I didn’t figure it out until after he passed away and I lost my weight.    So, eat some protein before you go out to a dinner with other people.  You will find it easier to pass up the rolls and ordering food based on hunger vs. nutritional need.  Once you get good at doing it, it will become a normal routine or habit.

2.  If you do go out, tell the server to not bring rolls and you will NOT be ordering dessert.

3.  Don’t go shopping hungry and go with a list of items that you need, items that are nutritious and part of your diet.

4.  Don’t keep bread in the house, if at all possible.

5.  Always have protein in the house.  Meat, cheese,eggs, Greek Yogurt, nuts, seeds, protein bars.  If you are hungry, have a protein drink or some cheese/meat slices to kill off the hunger.

6.  Eat protein every 3-4 hours and don’t go longer or you will be more likely to cheat.  You are weaker in your strength of saying “NO” when you are hungry.

7.  Warn people who have invited you over or out that you are on a special diet and just let them know that you need cheese, meat, nuts, eggs and you cannot eat grains like rice or bread and no beans.  If they ask why, tell them it is for something medical or you need to be low sugar and those things convert to sugar.  It is really no one’s business anyway.

8.  Drink plenty of water or some form of sugar free beverage and keep full and hydrated on it.

9.  If someone keeps asking you to try something that is NOT on your diet, don’t be afraid to say something to them.  Don’t cave in.  What they are doing is WRONG.  You can say, “You know, I know you are trying to be nice, but that what they are asking you to eat is not good for your health.  You don’t have to mention weight, just say “health” and they are more likely to back down.  I, personally, have no trouble saying, “Hey, stop trying to sabotage my diet or my health.”

10.  Remember that just because it is a holiday, or someone’s birthday, or the weekend or whatever the excuse–doesn’t meant that you have to eat something that will set you back for days after weeks or months of working so hard.  I never really understood why we have to eat things like cake or ice cream when it is your birthday anyway.  Who came up with that idea?

BONUS ANSWER:  Get sugar free/low carb/gluten-free replacements of items that are sweet.  There are bakeries now that make these things and you can Google and have all kinds of replacements mailed to you.  So look into it and don’t just eat whatever crap comes your way.  You don’t have to do it.  Be strong for YOURSELF!

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