Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Eat Well

Tricks of the trade – Restaurant Survival 101.

Imagine This: A much-anticipated dinner at that new restaurant you have been so eager to try, perhaps in celebration of an anniversary or a promotion. It’s been a busy day without much time for lunch.  You are ravenous when the hostess seats you and thrilled when the bread, oil, and balsamic vinegar arrives.  Marveling at the chewy texture of the ciabatta while enjoying a glass of wine, you contemplate the menu. Along with the divine roasted beet, arugula, and goat cheese salad, you enjoy a second and maybe a third piece of bread. When the entrée arrives twenty minutes later, you are amazed to find that you are no longer very hungry!

Of course you feel compelled to at least try the entrée, which is delicious, leading to an enticement for a couple more bites, and before you know it, you are uncomfortably full! Does this sound familiar?

Eating out does not have to be a free-for-all in terms of indulgence.  It is entirely possible to enjoy a fine meal out (or in for that matter), eat well, become satisfied and well-fed, but not over-fed. Even in a restaurant that serves mammoth portions that encourage overeating, you have a choice!  You will find the following tips to be practical, realistic, pleasant, and helpful:

  1. Decide prior to the meal whether you will have alcohol.  If so, this will impact the amount of bread you eat—if any at all.
    1. Note: A lunch meal usually does not include alcohol, so feel free to indulge in one piece of bread. If we are talking about dinner, it’s an either/or situation. I would rather enjoy my carbohydrate calories from a glass as opposed to a basket! Don’t get me wrong…Bread is the staff of life.  Bread of good quality is a healthy choice.  BUT, bread is one of those tricky restaurant challenges: limiting yourself to just one piece is not easy and often times, the bread served is a processed white flour variety, which diminishes its’ nutritional value.
    2. Be Bold! Consider asking the waitperson to please not bring the bread to the table.  Adios temptation.
  2. Order a salad or bowl of soup as an appetizer, and an entrée that you will share with your companion.  If you are dining alone, still order the salad or soup, and go to step 3.
  3. If you have ordered an entrée to eat without sharing—this is fine. As soon as it is placed in front of you, ask the waitperson to bring you a to-go container.  This will allow you to cut the entrée into half portions and box up what will become your lunch or dinner for the next day! This is an important step: if you wait until after you have eaten half of your meal to ask the wait person for a box, you will end up nibbling from your plate while you wait for him to do so.  Before you know it, there will not be enough of the entree remaining to take away. Since wasting food is not an appealing option, you will end up eating those “last few bites”.  Viola!  You have over-eaten! Not only does this to-go trick allow you to eat less, but you are actually saving money, as an additional meal has been created for the price of just one. Way to go!
  4. Request a double portion of the veggies in place of the rice or potato side dish.  Yum!
  5. Be mindful while you eat.  Inhale the aromas wafting from your plate. Notice the colors of your food and the way it is presented. Pay attention to the various flavors. Take small bites. Savor the distinct textures of each part of the meal. Chew slowly. Mindfulness while eating generally means a slower paced meal, which leads to less food being eaten.  Fantastic!
  6. Consider dessert carefully. Did you exercise today? Perhaps dessert is acceptable since you burned calories earlier in the day. Are you going to exercise tomorrow?—even better! Must you have it? Ask the waitperson about the size of the dessert; if it is a petite serving size, sharing it with your meal mate is a reasonable choice. If is one of those mega sized portions, consider sorbet or a sweet flavored tea.
    1. Did you know that it takes about 15 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full? Those are precious minutes.  If you sipped on tea, enjoyed a lively conversation with your partner, and gave your brain time to catch up, you will very likely discover that you are in fact, satiated, and are no longer tempted to eat dessert.  Wonderful!
    2. You might also solicit the support of your dinner companion prior to the meal.  This works for me: I will state my desire to NOT have dessert and request the support of my husband. At this point in our lives, neither one of us needs the dessert; it’s all about gratification.  His agreement to support my request means that the weight is lifted (no pun intended) to have to make a decision later. It’s reverse peer pressure!
    3. Notice that dessert receives far more consideration in this article than any other part of the meal!
  7. Bon Appétit.

Many times we eat for reasons that have nothing to do with being hungry.  The amazing human mind derives much satisfaction—in many ways—from food.  Planning ahead prior to going out to eat will increase your success in eating well, eating healthfully, and eating for pleasure.

Robin Mallery

One Response to “Eat Well”

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"The Holiday Survival Cooking and Eating Class exceeded my expectations. It was so enjoyable to learn new ideas for healthy snacks and meals, taste the delicious treats we created and leave with an inspired hope that this will be my healthiest holiday season yet! I am impressed with the knowledge and care that Robin (and Wendy from In the Kitchen) both possess and I look forward to taking more classes in the future. Thanks again!"  --Rose M.   “What a wonderful, yummy class! Not only did we participate in creating several easy-to-make, delicious, nourishing dishes for the holidays and every day, we also learned strategies for surviving and enjoying the upcoming holiday season. Both Robin & Wendy were delightful and imparted their cooking and eating knowledge with love, humor, and enthusiasm. I highly recommend their classes to anyone who is interested in developing a better way to look at food, using thoughtfulness with mindfulness to learn some very valuable strategies for eating any time of the year!” --CAM   “I found the class delightful with great ideas for the holidays. In the Kitchen is a warm and welcoming place and you and Wendy were great teaching collaborators. Good new recipes. I appreciate your healthy eating information. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to enjoy the holidays without stressing over food. Actually, the information isn’t just for the holidays. I want to stay healthy all year and eat well.” --Pat B.   "I’ve participated in several classes at In the Kitchen, enjoyed them all immensely, but it is always a special treat when Wendy teaches a class. The recipes offered in The Holiday Survival class were easy to make and so delicious. And what a plus to have Robin co-teach the The Holiday Survival class with Wendy. Thank you, Robin, for all your great information on healthy eating, which was delivered so professionally, dovetailing beautifully into Wendy’s presentation. Hope you two team up again for more classes of scrumptious, healthy recipes. What a fun evening!!" --Carol B. _______________ I love this positive feedback! How gratifying it is to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way…and to be able to do so around a topic that is so dear to me, is just the icing on the cake (right—pun intended!). Wendy Van Wagner and I will continue to offer seasonal cooking classes in addition to the occasional specialty class…stay tuned!
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