Friday, July 13, 2007

Dining Out

One of the earliest pitfalls I ran into while low-carbing was the difficulty in dining out.
My husband and I had a Date Night on Friday nights. We found it a pleasant way to get end the work week enjoying one another's company. Plus, let's face it --- we both enjoyed really good food, and plenty of it! (Maybe that's why he had to lose 40 lbs. and I'm 90lbs. down and still counting!)

When I began dieting, we kept up the weekly (or more frequent) dining out, just trying to make better choices. It didn't take long for me to realize I was usually sabotaging myself. The temptation to dive into the breadbasket or Blooming Onion was pretty strong! The familiar habits, the sense of celebration, the smells, the menus - it was hard to walk the straight and narrow path. Plus, even when I thought I had made good choices, it sometimes backfired. I found out some restaurants add sugar and starch to items you would never suspect! When I would step on the scales the next day, even when I had thought I was so careful, I would usually gain, or, at best, not lose. I soon realized something had to change!

In the interest of saving you the trouble I had, here are a few tips I learned the hard way:

* 1) Go out less often. You'll not only save carbs and calories, but also save money, too!

If all you want to do is get out of the house and spend time together, consider dinner at home (where you can be sure of what you are eating), and then go out after just for coffee, maybe. Or, just go for an activity, like a walk, bowling, dancing, browsing a bookstore, or whatever appeals to you.

* 2) Before you go out, check the menu online. Most restaurants post their menus online, and many include nutritional data. You can usually find it googling the restaurant name, nutrition. For instance, Outback, nutrition will lead you to this.

Other good sources for restaurant nutritional info are and You can find almost anything in one of those places.

That way, you can make food decisions with calm focus, not in the heat of the moment! Jot your selection down, and stick with it.

* 3) Grill - the server, that is! Ask questions about whether the dish uses any added injections, marinades, sauces, sugar, etc. (Yes, some places add sugar to salad dressings and vegetables!) Do not be afraid to specify exactly what you want, or to send it back if you don't get it. After all, they are in business to serve you, and they are used to accomodating special requests.

* 4) Reduce and limit unnecessary temptation.
~ Don't gaze longingly at the appealing photos in the menu; you've already chosen before you arrived.
~ Ask that the usual bread or chips not be brought, if that is acceptable to your dining companion(s). Otherwise, set that out of reach, preferably out of eyesight.
~ Ask for a to-go box or doggie bag to be brought with your food. Most restaurants serve portions far too large, so simply box up half your meal when it is served, and take your time savoring the rest.
~ If your companions order dessert, order a nice cup of coffee or something for yourself, add sweetener and creamer to your pleasure, and sip that instead.

* 5) Make it about the moment, not about the food. Don't fret about what you can't have. Rise above the food, and focus on the occasion, the experience, the people you are with, the conversation. Behave like the gracious host or hostess at your own dinner party. Make it an event, not a meal. Enjoy the moment!

That way, you'll also enjoy the weigh-in the next day, too.
Do you have any dining tips to share?

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