Week 3

Eating out and on the go

This week we will look at how to make healthier food choices when eating at cafes, restaurants and on the go.

Welcome back to week 3 of our 12 Week Weight Management Programme. Hopefully you’re starting to see the benefit of the small changes you’re making.

Weekly check-in

How did you get on last week? Were you able to use any of the handy measures we taught you?

Did you achieve the goals you set yourself last week?

Energy balance

Over the last 2 weeks we’ve looked at:

  • reducing calories
  • decreasing high fat and sugar foods
  • reducing portion sizes
  • starting to read food labels

It’s time to look at situations when it can be hard to reduce your calories and keep to your weekly goals. We call these tricky situations, they’re a part of life. You can consider different options for ways to handle their effects on your weight management goals.

Eating outside of the home

Eating outside the home is part of all our lives, don’t try and avoid it completely. We have some suggestions on how to eat out and still keep your calorie intake lower than before:

  • Don’t avoid eating during the day – you’ll end up eating more later. During the day eat 2 small meals
  • Go for 1 or 2 courses only
  • Fill up your plate with extra vegetables and/or salad
  • Try not to use salad creams or oil dressings
  • Choose boiled or baked potatoes instead of chips
  • Avoid fried foods as much as you can

You can also have a go at the ‘Say no to upsizing game’ and consider your portion size when eating out. (The daily calorie intake mentioned on this page is for people not trying to manage their weight so it’s higher than our suggestions.)

Food on the go

Sometimes you need to grab something to eat on the go. Like eating out, you don’t need to avoid this completely. Be aware and make choices about what you have.

When choosing food on the go:

  • read the labels and look for lower calorie sandwiches – aim for around 300 calories
  • try to limit meal deals with crisps on a daily basis
  • many shops have salads in small packs for lunches that don’t have high calorie oils, dressing or cheese.
  • try not to size up in fast food outlets
  • try to avoid the higher calorie milky drinks and smoothies – water is the best drink.

Food labelling

People have told us that one of the things that helped them manage their weight was learning to read food labels.

Start looking at the labels of all your bought food to help you better understand what you’re eating. Start by concentrating on reading the calorie content. We’ll return to food labelling in week 5.


There are many reasons to be careful about the amount of alcohol you drink. Health is one of these but so is the number of calories in alcoholic drinks and mixers.

Both men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week to keep the risks to their health low. Current recommendations also suggest that it’s safer and healthier to spread out your drinking over at least 3 days in a week. If you are looking to reduce your alcohol intake, a good way to do this is having several alcohol free days each week.

  • Beer 568ml (Pint) 4.0% 2.3 units, 182 calories – 14 units = 1108 calories
  • Beer 330ml bottle 5.0% 1.6 units, 142 calories – 14 units = 1242 calories
  • Red wine 175ml glass 13.0% 2.3 units, 159 calories – 14 units = 968 calories
  • White wine 175ml glass 13.0% 2.3 units, 166 calories – 14 units = 1010 calories
  • Spirits 25ml single 40% 1.04 units, 61 calories (without mixers) – 14 units = 821 calories

These figures are an illustrative guide, the exact percentages and calories will vary by brand and will be listed on the labelling.

If you have concerns about the number of units you’re drinking in a week then contact your health professional. You can also find help and support on NHS Inform.

Physical activity

We’ve talked each week about increasing your level of physical activity. If you’ve not started to do this yet, don’t worry. This week you could give some time to consider what kinds of physical activity you could do.

Increasing your level of physical activity helps weight loss by:

  • using up more calories
  • helping with your mood by releasing more endorphins – our happy hormone.

Research tells us being physically active is a vital aspect of managing your weight. Keeping up an increased level of physical activity going after the 12 weeks will help you maintain any weight loss.

Getting your steps in

Aiming for around 10,000 steps a day while trying to lose weight is about right. Don’t worry if you aren’t at that level, the important thing is to increase your number of steps over these 12 weeks and beyond.

There are lots of different wearable devices, such as watches, activity trackers, and apps on phones, that count the number of steps you’re taking in a day.

Barriers to physical activity

There are many reasons we put off or avoid physical activity. Some common reasons people have given include:

  • the weather is bad
  • I’m embarrassed about how I look
  • I don’t have time due to childcare
  • I cant afford the special clothing

All of these reasons are barriers to physical activity and, while understandable, can be overcome with coping strategies

If you have a physical disabilities finding an activity that works for you is key. There are some ideas that you could try to increase your physical activity levels.

If you feel you’ve not been doing much physical activity then start by doing some gentle activities such as:

One popular programme, Football Fans In Training, links supporters around the country with their local football club for support.

You may be using this programme as you have little free time or have caring duties. Consider ways to exercise at home such as using online activity or yoga classes.

Recording your lifestyle

We’ve looked at why and how to record lifestyle in week 1. If you haven’t started recording yet, then this week is a good time to start and get yourself into the habit.

Download our lifestyle diary to get started

Weekly goals

It’s time to set new goals for next week. You may feel that you’ve met all the goals from last week, met part of them or not met them at all. The most important thing is to learn what it was that got in the way of you being able to meet them.

Missing your goals

If you found it hard to meet the goals you set last week then consider how you could make them achievable this week. For example, if you set, ‘I’ll walk for 30 minutes 3 days a week’, then set a new target of doing it 2 days a week, or walking for 15 minutes.

Could you fit in the walking in your current day such as walk the kids to school or get off the bus 2 stops earlier and walk to work from there?

You may also consider that last week was a difficult week to meet this particular target. You may feel more confident that you can keep and meet the same target this week.

Building on your goals

If you achieved your goals, then you could keep to the same ones this week or make them more challenging. In our example above you could walk for 30 minutes, 4 days a week or walk for 45 minutes, 3 days a week.

Remember that we know that setting goals and aiming to follow them is useful in managing to change behaviours and your weight.

Setting your goals

When setting your weekly goals you should:

  • decide which day next week you will be coming back to this programme, this will be the day you can review your goals
  • consider the areas for change we have discussed this week
  • look at your lifestyle diary/journal/app/photos and choose areas where you feel you could make a small change over the next week
  • ask yourself what you can do more of, what you can do less of and what would help you me make these changes
  • add 1 or 2 new goals – we recommend 3 to 4 weekly changes goals are the most you should ever set yourself

You may need to keep your targets the same as last week, review them and make them more achievable or build on them. If you don’t meet your goals every day, that’s ok. It’s important to keep returning to what you’ve written down. We’ll review them next week.

Your can use our goal-setting tool to record your goals for the week, or print out our blank weekly journal (PDF, 42KB) to fill in yourself.

Set goals for the week ahead, for example drink less than 14 units of alcohol and go for a 45 minute walk on 3 different days.

All fields have a maximum character limit of 140.

For next week

During this week you should:

  • consider which of your current behaviours you feel ready to change and set 2 realistic goals for this week
  • continue to track your goals by keeping your lifestyle diary or journal, app or take photos
  • look through your food cupboards and look at the food labels of 10 tins and packets.
  • record your levels of physical activity
  • try one new physical activity this week such as yoga, walking football or water aerobics.

Last updated:
18 May 2020

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