Business lunches can wreak havoc with your carefully planned wellbeing plans, unless you know what you’re doing. Numerous studies have linked dining out with overeating and poor food choices, so here are some hacks to make your next business lunch much more healthy.
1. Before going out, take a minute to focus inward and breathe deeply. Set an intention that you will be present and engaged more with the person or people than with the food, and when you eat and drink, that you will do so mindfully. How you approach something determines how it approaches you back.
2. If time permits, take a brief walk or break beforehand so that you lift your energy naturally rather than looking for the lift from the food.
1. Have a healthy snack before you arrive – that way you won’t be so ravenous that you choose the most calorie-laden item on the menu. Some ideas include: a small handful of almonds, a piece of fruit, a wheat–free cracker with a topping like guacamole or nut butter, some air-popped popcorn, apple slices spread with some nut butter, or hummus and some raw veggies.
2. Drink water before the meal to help you feel fuller – and alternate glasses of water with alcohol if you’re drinking. I enjoy having sparkling water in a wine glass!
3. Avoid foods described as pan-fried, crispy, crunchy, creamed or sautéed, as these will usually contain more calories. Go for grilled, baked and ask for all sauces to be served on the side. That way you get to drizzle for flavour, rather than drown for diluted taste.
4. On that note … avoid the bread served before the meal as it is likely to be fast-releasing, which means it will digest rapidly and raise your blood glucose and insulin levels, putting you into ‘fat storage’ mode. That’s a simplified explanation, but you get the idea!
5. Let go of your fork between mouthfuls so you don’t eat too fast. This also helps you to stay present in the conversation, and not be focused only on eating.
6. Be first to order – so you aren’t influenced poorly by other people’s choices. Even better is to think about what you feel like eating BEFORE looking at the menu. Decide whether you want grilled fish or a salad or warm soup, and then look for that on the menu, rather than being tempted by other choices.
7. Have two starters instead of a starter and a main course, to help with portion control.
8. Eat like an artist – eat foods that with lots of added vegetable colour, instead of choosing heavier proteins or cheese-laden foods. And swap part of your meal – like fries – for extra vegetables or salad.
When eating out, think about your whole diet – you don’t want to live in a state of deprivation. Eating your favourite food for pleasure once in a while, even if it’s calorie-dense, isn’t a problem if the rest of your diet is pretty good. Just don’t do it every day – it’s all about balance.