We don't eat dinner out very much and it's not because of the economic pinch. In fact, I could use a few nights off every week from the cooking and the cleaning up after the whole business.
We don't do it because I am "calorie conscious." I just don't want to stress out about what hidden ingredients are lurking in the food I am ordering and how many calories that adds up to. So I'm really glad to hear that there is federal legislation pending to require restaurants to publish nutritional information on their menus (at least for restaurants with more than 20 locations). I know that the vast number of Americans would fall off their seats if they saw it.
So that I can partake in restaurant food occasionally, I have developed a number of strategies that work for me in restaurant situations. I'm going to share them here with you in the hopes that these ideas might help you too.
1. Look at the restaurant’s online nutritional information BEFORE going to the restaurant.
2. Choose what you will eat and write it down before entering the restaurant.
3. If nutritional information is not available online, just say “oh, well” and make the best out of the situation. If the restaurant serves non-cream-based soup, order the biggest bowl of it they offer. This will fill you up and make it a heck of a lot easier to control yourself.
4. Do not hesitate to ask for food to be prepared the way you need it to be prepared. We all know to ask for a salad with the dressing on the side, but lately I have started to ask for double lettuce. (I happen to really like lettuce.)
5. Immediately remove food from my plate that is not on my plan.
6. Eat slowly and notice every bite (this is the hardest thing of all for me, practically impossible with kids in a restaurant).
7. When finished, make it final by putting a napkin over the food.
8. If it seems unfair to me that I can’t eat something, acknowledge that I’m right. Then ask myself, which unfairness would I rather have: not being able to eat this or not losing/maintaining my weight? Then say, “oh, well” and get on with it.
9. If having a craving, distance myself from the food by taking a short walk, going outside, going to the bathroom.
10. While others at your table are eating dessert, keep your mouth and hands distracted by ordering yourself a hot tea, hot coffee or hot water with lemon and sipping it slowly.
Got any restaurant strategies of your own you would like to share? Leave a comment below.