Do you know of 5 ways to control portions when you eat out?
Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with old friends and catch-up from hibernating over the past few winter months. Unfortunately, it’s also meant going out to eat… which also brings out the opportunity for me to make food choices.
Sometimes, they are
terrible not great decisions.
I’ve often wondered why I make these bad decisions and have no sense of self-control when faced with the ‘Hungry Farmer Skillet’ filled with bacon, bacon and more bacon (and cheese).
Well, it might have something to do with the fact my Dad was born in 1929, the day after Black Friday! His habits were partially imbedded by living in the era of having nothing and being able to McGuyver everything.
If you know anyone who grew up in the Great Depression, you know they learned to be very frugal, save everything, create something from nothing, embodied strong work-ethic and because they never knew when their next meal might be, they ate everything given to them at the time.
And so, I grew up being told I needed to finish everything on my plate, even if I was already full.
There was no such thing as wasting food.
My Dad, as much as he loved us, would insist we could not leave the table until we emptied our plates. We didn’t throw anything away!
So guess what I do now? Yup. I have a really hard time leaving any food on my plate. In fact, for years, I would also finish everything my kids left on their plates, too!
Lately, I’ve been very focused on this particular habit and have discovered a few tricks that are working for me.
BE DECISIVE – DECIDE EARLY
I recently read an article stating successful people are great decision makers. They don’t waffle and change their minds. They act and move forward.
Be decisive! Choose a door!
I’m a waffler when it comes to the restaurant menu because everything sounds yummy, but not anymore. If this is you, too and you know you’re going out to eat ahead of time, get on the restaurant website, find the menu and do a little research to find a menu item that satisfies your nutritional needs.
Decide what you’re going to order ahead of time and stick to it.
The other benefit of doing this is realizing the high fat/calories/sugar all the menu items have ahead of time really making the temptation to order the Double Cheese Everything Burger an absolute no-go!
SPLIT THE MEAL
American meals are HUGE and completely over-portioned at most restaurants.
When my husband and I returned from living in Hawaii for three years, we were so used to ordering a side-item or appetizer because the portions are considerably less (it’s an asian thing). And so imagine our surprise when we had a toddler who loved fries and we ordered a side for the three of us to share that was bigger than one of our adults meals… which also came with fries! #gutbomb
It’s easy in many restaurants to split the meal with a health-conscious friend. Not only do you save a few dimes, but you save your waist-line, too.
One thing I’ve started doing with lunch and dinner meals is asking for a To-Go box when the meal comes out and automatically splitting my meal in half to take home for a second meal another day (unless it’s a nice salad).
If I don’t order the to-go box early, I’m tempted to pick at my food as we converse and the next thing I know, I’ve eaten too much, or the whole darn thing.
I also have three growing boys and so part of me thinks that by taking home a To-Go Box with part of my meal, I’ll have one less snack or meal that I need to cook for them as they eat their way through our fridge!
ASK TO BE OLDER (AND WISER)
About a week ago, my girlfriends and I met for breakfast at a place near us famously known for huge, delicious portions.
As I was mulling over the menu, I stated that everything looked like it was too much food and I was trying to be good. My friend, Jennifer, suggested we ask if we can order off the Senior menu.
Much to our surprise, the waitress said, YES!
Remember the adage that it never hurts to ask? And you’ll never get what you don’t ask for?
I may get in trouble for this, but please share which restaurants result in success (Double Yolk the day we visited).
OR ACT YOUR AGE!
My oldest son has always been big for his age and hasn’t eaten off the kids menu since he was in third grade as an 8-year old!
In fact, it’s been a personal goal of his to find the biggest breakfast choice on the menu to see if he can eat the entire thing! (and he usually does). He’s so big now he usually helps the rest of the family polish off their meals, too!
If you have kids who can technically order off the children’s menu, but eat as much as, or more than you do, have them pick out a kids menu item you would like. Then, ask your son or daughter what they’d like off the regular menu.
When you go to order, be honest, but let the server know your child would like your menu item and you’d like his!
Usually, they don’t bat and eye and make a comment about how much kids grow! It’s a great way to control your portions and save a little money, too.
EAT SLOWLY, FEEL FULL
Enjoy your meal!
I really think Americans are so focused on the FAST part of FAST FOOD that we forget to really sit, smell, look at and taste our food. We literally inhale the contents of our plates as we rush to the next thing.
When meeting with family and friends, I’m consciously focused on having a great conversation. And now, it’s a secret contest for me.
I do everything I can to finish my food after everyone else. I will push my food around the plate, stall, drink more water, ask questions and put my fork down and really listen while someone is talking.
This way, I’m taking time to chew and enjoy good food, while giving my brain enough time to register when I’m really full. As a result, I’m finding it easier to leave food on my plate, or transfer any extra’s to my To-Go box!
Hopefully, these five ideas will help you control the amount of food you consume when eating out to an amount more reasonable for your body.
Do you have any other great tips to follow when eating out to stay healthy? Do you have a history of eating more than you should like I do?