Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Question Is Not Can You Do It... It Is Should You Do It

I'm talking about eating out people. Can you eat out and still live a healthy lifestyle... and more to the point can you lose weight doing it? I think trying to stick to a healthy caloric intake and eating at a restaurant is like being a recovering alcoholic at a bar. Could the alcoholic just order a club soda? Yes... but after a bad day or under just the wrong circumstances they would be setting themselves up for failure. We can all see that.... but when it comes to eating out there seems to be a brain block. We all like eating out. Who doesn't? You don't have to cook and even better you don't have to clean up after yourself. We used to like to eat out too. But when I started dieting last year that was the FIRST thing to go... because as much as I like taking a load off... I believe it is too hard to lose weight while doing so. It just takes a quick look at your local restaurants nutritional information to give you a good smack in the face. I think you have to decide what you really want and if you want to lose weight you might have to give up being waited on. Now that doesn't mean I don't think you can go out every once in a while, but if you are eating out a few times a week than I think that is something you need to think about changing.

For all of you who feel you just cannot give it up here are my restaurant tips:

If possible look up the nutritional information BEFORE you go. If you know how many calories are in your favorite dish it might be easier to pass it up... and you should decide what you will order and stick to it.

If you can't find the nutritional info then you can take one of two strategies:

#1 When possible split your meal with your spouse/friend/child

#2 When ordering your meal ask for an extra plate (or a box) and IMMEDIATELY divide your meal into two... get the extra plate boxed up when you go.

#3 Order an appetizer for your meal. Trust me this is going to be pushing the 300-500 calories most dieters have allotted for dinner.

#4 Ask the waiter NOT to bring the bread/chips/crackers and if you are drinking a drink with calories (gasp) ask them not to bring you refills.

#5 ALWAYS get your dressing on the side and dip your fork into your dressing instead of pouring it on.

Now I didn't make it 10 months without going out to eat or getting takeout. I prefer to order take out since it is much easier to call and place an order for a healthy choice then to resist temptations when you are sitting there looking at them and smelling them! We had 4 takeout options that I felt really good about and enjoyed what I could get in my calorie range. That worked for me on the days that I didn't want to cook... but even that I have kept to 1 or 2 times a week.


Gypsy Family said...

Hey, look at me, leaving a comment! I do read fairly regularly, just no time to comment. But had to say, since I've been really finally buckling down with the weight loss/getting in shape, (I've lost 7 lbs, btw!!) I discovered that my 2 fave things at Qdoba each are in excess of 1100 calories!! Holy crap!! Just the tortilla alone in a burrito is 350 or something calories. By. Itself. Jesus.

Torey said...

I love to eat out. I would eat out at every meal if we could afford it. But we can't. I do try to choose healthy things, but I'm not big on calorie counting. Can someone give some healthy examples?

Mrs. Furious said...

Seroiusly?! Wow... I'm not going there again! No wonder Kid always gets full when it doesn't seem she has eaten very much!

Good job on the 7 lbs by the way! That is a big deal :)

If you want to do the food diary thing let me know. Did you go look at it? If you have you know it is not intimidating and that I had jello yesterday ;) I think all the people doing it now aren't calorie counting.

Mrs. Furious said...

2 pieces of Little Caesars cheese pizza is 440 calories, a bread stick is 90.
1/2 a chicken salad sandwich at Panera is 290 (they just lowered that).... fyi places like Panera list all calorie counts for 1/2 portions so make sure you double it as necessary.
A tall mocha at Starbucks is 290.

When really watching it I would get little caesar's and have 2 pieces and a bread stick for 530.
Or a small Taco Salad from Tios (no cheese) with beef & beans for 600 (I'd not eat the whole thing). Or I'd get a Chicken Tawook wrap sandwich from Ali Baba's also about 500 calories. I'm happy with all of those choices.

If I was going out for lunch I'd either get a half sanwich from Panera or my double hamburger from McD's for 330 calories.

You can look most chain places up online and find what you need.

Cara said...

being broke really helps me stay from going out. i really do feel like a recovering alcoholic when I am at a restaurant though. Too many tasty options. perhaps it is good I am still a broke post graduate. haha.

oh I also was looking at appetizers for claim jumper (going there for vday for the boy) and one of them was 1200 calories. CRAZY!!

Oh and a kids meal at rubios is about 950 calories, compared to their regular burritos around 600-700. CRAZY.

My Life & Running said...

I love what you said about children who eat out all the time might get a skewed perception about portion sizes.... I really believe that too! "Eating out" was such a big treat when I was growing up and I think a lot of kids now think it's the norm. And to me, that is just a frightening mindset.

Keep up being the good example for your children (and for us readers!)

Mrs. Furious said...

1200?!?! I guess that proves my point... you really can never be too confident when going out there are always hidden calories.

My Life & Running,
Oh thanks!

Growing up in the 70s-80s I can almost not remember a time when my mom took us out to eat. But something happened culturally that portrayed eating out as an everyday event (maybe prices got cheaper?) because my much younger sister grew up eating out much more frequently (by then I was out of the house).
It is just bad news... Kids need to be shown what healthy is and if they are eating out they really aren't getting the opportunity to learn.

Haley said...

Great post, Mrs. F, and I wholeheartedly agree. Like every other human I love to eat out, but have had to keep it to celebrations only, and honestly, it has made it all the more special and enjoyable. I get excited like it's christmas morning!

My best friend, however, is overweight and desperately wants to lose about 50 pounds. Unfortunately, she travels constantly for her job and is really struggling with how to lose weight while always in hotels and restaurants. I feel like I have no good guidance for her, because deep down I just don't think she's going to be able to do it during this phase of her life. Losing weight for me has been like a part-time job, and I haven't even been a big exerciser yet (although my elliptical should be here next week!).

BTW, how adorable is Kid's plaintive hunger wail in the video? So damn cute.

And Barilla Plus rocks. I can't eat regular pasta anymore without feeling like I'm doing something terribly wrong (as it were cotton candy, really).

Danielle said...

Good post! It's a good reminder that restaurants have CRAZY portions. My pitfall is Mexican food. Chips and salsa are EVIL...they get me everytime!
Oh, I just linked your blog to someone who is on a 100 lb weight loss journey. I think she could get some really good inspiration here!

Danielle said...

Oh, I forgot to add that as my children get older and their horizons widen, they have been increasingly interested in junk food. I'm sure it's because they see it at their friend's homes, school, etc...I've found that a really honest approach works best. I never tell them they can't have something altogether, but I do tell them that it's only OK to eat "junk food" every once in a while. I explain what it can do to their bodies. The only downside is that you don't want your five year old running around telling other kids, "Don't eat that, it'll make you sick". I'm careful not to use the word "fat" though. We're working on tact around here!

Mrs. Furious said...

I usually tell Kid she needs to make a "healthy" choice and label junk foods as not "healthy for your body". We also have certain restaurant rules... if fries are being ordered (rarely) only one of us in the whole family will get them and then we all share that one portion and Kid can't have them until she has eaten her "healthy" foods. (I of course try to model the same). I don't really want any foods to be forbidden or they might have more allure just work at modeling and explaining good eating habits.
Mr F grew up eating chips w/ sandwich EVERY time they ate a sandwich and that is just ingrained in him now... so I of course try not to have chips in the house but to him he feels his sandwich isn't complete w/o them. It pisses me off when he has them because there is no way to justify to Kid why he would make such a bad food choice... really this is something that pisses me off... anyway...I'm hoping that good habits will be just as strongly ingrained as Mr F's bad ones!

Oh and thanks for the link... good luck to your friend!

When you get the elliptical the weight is just going to drop off! :) Really. I'm very excited for you!

My best friend is in a similar circumstance with her job and traveling. She has tried to count calories but since she can't control her food as well (in terms of having to get takeout) it was too frustrating and too much work. I definitely see serious weight loss as a part-time job. You need to put a lot of thought and work into being informed and sticking to your decisions.

Oh you know I love the Barilla Plus... it is true I think of white pasta as the equivalent of white bread now.

And once we stopped eating out so much I completely changed my view on it. Now I really don't want to waste it on a simple dinner... it is just not worth the calories for mediocre food!... I really only want to go when I'm going to go to a nice place, have a nice ambiance, and order something that I can't/won't make for myself.

Julie said...

Eating out with children puts another obstacle...you may order a good meal for yourself, but then eat a few bites of leftovers of the kid's meal. I would sometimes just take some bites out of my kids' meals because it bugged me that we paid money for it and they didn't eat it.

I realize I have a thing about wasting food...it is better to throw it out (or not take home the leftovers) than just keep depositing in me like I am the wastebasket. At least until I have a bit more control. I hate hate hate wasting food, but I hate how I feel when I am overweight.

eurydice said...

I don't eat out that much and it's a combo of a) i like to be aware of everything i'm eating and b) i'd much rather be spending money on other things that don't go straight down the tubes like fashion, or my mortgage.

i do like to eat out though so here are some additional tips:

1) avoid anything in white sauce... this is very bad. bad words (high in fat and cals): fried, au gratin, crispy, escalloped, pan-fried, sautéed, and stuffed. these words mean high-sodium (although personally i don't care about sodium): pickled, smoked, or in a sauce such as au jus, cocktail, soy or teriyaki.

2) eat slow - don't be the first one to pick up your fork or finish your meal. being aware of how fast those around you are eating is helpful and you can realize you are full... and feel superior to everyone else of course.

3) bring your own dressing. this might embarrass some people but really, they are only looking at you because they are jealous. think of it like bringing your own healthy snacks to the movies.

4) these are good words: steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached, and roasted.

that being said, if you only go out once in a blue moon maybe you should just splurge and order whatever you want. i'm talking once a month here tops. if you are in weight loss phase that is probably not a good idea. :)

Laura said...

I'm traveling for work for a few months, and it's SO hard not being to cook healthy as I normally like to do. The good news is, now that eating out has become an all-day every-day occurrence, I'm less tempted by fancier/less healthy dishes because they're not a one-time splurge for a special occasion.

Mrs. Furious said...

I hear you. Sometimes paying for food that doesn't get eaten can annoy me too. My mom is president of the clean plate club and *hates* wasting food. Much like you said I have often reminded her that eating food when you aren't hungry is still throwing it out... in your gut... and that doesn't make it any less wasteful.
I find thinking about going out to eat as paying for the experience instead of the food helps me in this area. If you went to a buffet you pay up front and it wouldn't bother you how much or how little your kids ate... you kind of have to think of it in the same respect. Your going out to eat and for that privilege you are going to be out $50 (or whatever) and that it is worth it to you to spend the $50... what you do/don't eat is doesn't matter you are paying for the service. Maybe that will help?

Mrs. Furious said...

Good eating out tips.
I was going to say bring your own dressing too but didn't want people to balk at that! ;)

"The good news is, now that eating out has become an all-day every-day occurrence, I'm less tempted by fancier/less healthy dishes because they're not a one-time splurge for a special occasion."
I can see that. I tried to approach our vacations like that and not give into the "vacation" mode way of eating just look at it as "I have to eat out but I don't have to eat differently" and in the end I felt so proud of my will power that it fueled my ability to stick to it. Good work!

Kelly O said...

Mrs F,
You hit the nail on the head with this one. I go nuts talking about restaurants; people have NO IDEA how bad it really is. I just recently read another great new book called "Eat This Not That" (there's a link on my blog, its cheap and great) and it has even more shockers, like Ruby Tuesdays TURKEY BURGER IS 1278 CALORIES!! Your average "healthy" turkey sandwich or any sandwich at virtually any restaurant is 800-900 calories. I used to work at Olive Garden in college and would crack up when women would come in saying, "I'm on a diet, I'll have soup and salad". Ladies, Olive Garden's salad dressing is Wishbone Italian dressing WITH ADDED EGGS AND ADDED PARMESAN CHEESE; it has 90g of fat per SCOOP!! PER SCOOP!!! With portion sizes and the fact that in sit-down restaurants almost everything is cooked in or has added butter, you are destined to consume 1000 calories minimum. So yes, eating in or being VERY cautious is key. Do you know about www.dwlz.com - she has calorie counts to just about every restaurant you can imagine. Luckily most restaurants are starting to post that info so we can begin to get creative. Surprisingly, for fast Food, Taco Bell can be very good for you if you order things Fresco Style and ask for no cheese or rice; quite yummy too. I'm also avoiding eating out so I can afford to pay my trainer $$!!!!

Chris Howard said...

For me, eating out is like something someone once said about other vices - "You'll live longer if you quit smoking and drinking, but why would you want to?". I'll never quit eating out, and if the price is that I struggle with weight, then that's what I'll do. And it's really not about the convenience for me, it's the experience.

With that said, all your tips are very good. And I don't think cutting back to once a week or so is too much. You can find all kinds of good calorie info online and as long as you really pay attention, you can do ok. But you do have to beware. Even grilled chicken salads can have 1000's of calories. We do split quite a bit, and often take some home for lunch the next day.

If you're doing fast food, you can actually do very well, and not eat badly if you get Subway or some of the premium salads like they have at McDonalds.

SOS said...

Helpful info ... thanks Mrs F and friends.

Mrs. Furious said...

Holy Mackerel! That dressing is ridiculous! That is a good insider tip.
Funnily enough they were talking about Ruby Tuesday's on NPR the other day and I guess they actually tried to reduce their portion sizes and the people revolted and they brought them back up again.
I'll have to check out that site. I love to have a good game plan.

I appreciate your strong love of dining out... but what exactly is the "experience" of eating at Mc D's or Subway?
And while I can respect the fact that you are willing and knowingly eating out maybe at the expense of your weight but what about your kids? And I ask that in a genuine fashion... do you think it does/doesn't affect their diet and/or might have a negative impact on their eating habits now or in the future?

Mrs. Furious said...

thanks for the comment! :)

Kiki said...

I am thinking about cutting back on the eating out...its just tricky with my schedule, when I work until 9:30 p.m, I do not feel like cooking and Ken doesn't cook. Which is fine...but then I have to figure out what to eat...waiting until 10p.m to eat dinner probably isn't the best choice, I get a break at work and could eat my dinner then...then when I get home have a snack and go to bed.

The baby thing is that Ken and I have tried for 6 years, to no avail to have kids, I have gone to the doctor and been cleared, but Ken should go...he's nervous, I think. I don't blog about it because my mom thinks that I am devastated because of it, which I'm not, but I can't even mention it without her getting very analytical about it. So, whether we have kids or not is fine, I'd rather adopt or foster but Ken isn't there yet...so we wait and I'm fine with that too. Seriously.

Mrs. Furious said...

I'm sorry to hear about your fertility problems... I hope it all works out in whatever way makes you both happy.

Do you normally just grab takeout at 9:30 on your way home? If that is the case crockpot style stuff could work for you (not a huge fan myself... so I understand it's lack of appeal).
or what about grilling up chicken and steak for the week and then having those sliced over salad or something. Either of those things would take no time to serve when you got home.

Chris Howard said...

Sure McDonalds or Subway is all about the convenience. I just threw those in while I was thinking about calories and eating out. When we have teeball practice, we pretty much have to eat out, and I try to go somewhere that we can get something relatively healthy. We talked about packing some sort of picnic in a cooler that would keep in a car all day, so we may try that.

And while I can respect the fact that you are willing and knowingly eating out maybe at the expense of your weight but what about your kids?

Oh, the kids are screwed already. Actually, they're not in bad shape now, but we haven't done a very good job of instilling good eating habits in them. We're trying to change that, but between their genes and their lifestyle, it's going to be tough going

Gypsy Family said...

re Food Diary, I really would enjoy it, but at this point I can't even squeeze in writing my stuff down on paper! I've been doing pretty good just counting calories and keeping the log in my head so far. It's all about making conscious choices and I think I'm doing pretty good.

Although, major diappoinment and setback today!!! After posting about Qdoba, I went there for lunch! (dumb dumb dumb...) I had looked up calories the other day and thought I'd be OK with a naked burrito. So I had a naked vegetarian black bean burrito. I came home and double checked the calories: 830!!! I was so mad! Turns out it's the rice! 330 calories for the rice alone. I see in the comments someone mentioned avoiding rice at Taco Bell. I guess these places must put pounds and pounds of lard in their rice, or something. Made me mad because the damn thing was not filling and yet totally blew my calorie "budget." Grrr. I guess the moral of the story is: don't eat the rice at fresh mex!

Olive Garden sells bottles of their salad dressing and I looked at it one time and saw what horrible stuff it is. Bad, bad, bad.

Kiki said...

Mrs.F, I do usually grab something on the way home, I think about the crock pot, maybe I'll use that once a week and grilling the chicken is a good idea, I have to PLAN!! That is my problem...I have to make a menu and then shop, and then stick to it!!!

Mrs. Furious said...

".I have to make a menu and then shop, and then stick to it!!!"
That is a problem for all of us! It does get easier after awhile though.

"Oh, the kids are screwed already"
Don't say that! It is never too late. I did not grow up with the model of appropriate diet and exercise and I think that definitely makes it harder to adopt those things as an adult. BUT it is not too late to do that for your girls they are not too old to benefit.

And eating out after teeball is not a big deal I think that is reasonable... you made it sound like you go out to eat more than that.

You'll be interested to know there is a new study out about artificial sweeteners ;)... I'll post about it tomorrow

Mrs. Furious said...

Gypsy Family,
God I HATE when that happens!
Rice is 220 a cup just plain so it would only take 1 T of oil or butter in it to push it up to 330.
That is why I had to stop going out for a while... even when you try and can blow up in your face!

I do my food journal in an email that I leave open on my desktop all week then I send it to myself so I have the info archived if I eat something I made the week before or whatever.

Smoochiefrog said...

Let's have a little talk about my ex-brf (best restaurant friend), Chili's.

I'd go and get an order of Southwestern Eggrolls (it's an appetizer) with honey mustard dressing instead of avacado ranch. Sometimes (oh who am I kidding, normally) I'd get the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake for dessert and split it with Dh. Lets do some adding shall we?

Eggrolls-810 cal, 51g of fat.
Honey Mustard Dressing-260 cal, 28g of fat.
Molten Chocolate Cake-1270 cal, 62g of fat. (1/2 would be 635 cal, 31g of fat)

Grand total eating 1/2 the dessert=
1705 cal, 110g of fat.

Damn. Just damn.

Even if you subtract the 150 cal for the dressing I remove, I'd still be at 1555 cal and 95g of fat.

Still, damn.

That used to be ONE freaking meal!

Thank GOD I never ordered the Awesome Blossom which clocks in at 2710 cal and 203g of fat.

The good news, we haven't eaten there in FOREVER.

The better news, I now know to get a house dinner salad with vinaigrette dressing (180 cal and 7g of fat) and a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup (90 cal and 2g of fat) if we ever go back.

Mrs. Furious said...

"Let's have a little talk about my ex-brf"

I'm sorry you had to break up :(

and YOWZA... I find the more I know the less appealing eating out is. It just isn't worth it to me anymore.

MommyTime said...

Some other tips we like? (1) Go out to lunch instead of dinner. It's much easier to eat a smaller portion at lunch time. (2) ask if you can have steamed veggies as a side instead of fries -- most places like Ruby Tuesday's offer this as a standard thing now on kids menus, but they'll also happily do it for adults. I find they're generous with the portion too. Giant pile of steamed broccoli = what? 700 calories less than giant pile of french fries?

Also, eat a late lunch if you're going to splurge on the calories. We go to Ruby T's sometimes. I choose the turkey minis (517 cals with no fries) and eat a huge salad from their salad bar. I don't put on dressing; I just use the marinated green beans and toss them with the rest of the salad. I figure this is probably close to 800 cals for lunch -- but then I'm hardly hungry at dinner. Sometimes I'll have a small salad at night. This accomplishes a couple of things, though: the heavy meal is in the middle of the day rather than just before bedtime, so I don't go to bed overstuffed; because I only eat when I'm hungry, I can still (if I'm careful about how I overeat when out) stay within my 1400 cals limit for the day, which is my dieting limit. If you are a much tinier person, with a much smaller dieting calorie limit, this would be harder, I know. But I just wanted to add some ideas for how it is possible to eat out even in bad places, if you're careful.

eurydice said...

i found this today.... ahhhhh!

Daniela said...

We don't eat out. Once every two weeks I'll get the kids a Little Ceasar's pizza. Everything else comes from yours truly. I will say that it's almost second nature to me to prep as much as I can on Sunday (chopping onions, peppers, veggies, making applesauce and bread as needed.) Bread literally takes about 10 minutes to do a bulk of the work. Then you just leave it to sit around and rise.. what's so difficult about that?

I have major issues with people touching my food. Combine that with an overwhelming feeling that I need to be in control at all times, and you just might have the makings of some sort of obsessive disorder (I even drive everywhere we go.)

The one part I'm not looking forward to about our trip to Chicago this month is eating out. I've tried to do as much prep work as possible by figuring out where to eat. I might just bring some bread and some peanut butter though, just in case. And a box of cereal. And fruit. And maybe some carrot sticks. We're going by train, so it's okay to look like you just came from the grocery store.

Mrs. Furious said...

" I even drive everywhere we go."
hmmm... guess who else does this ;)

Hey!!! We're also taking a train trip to Chicago this month! During the late Feb break.

Mrs. Furious said...

we actually checked that issue out from the library (of course... we have we NOT checked out!?) it was a great article!

Going out to lunch is a good tip... the entree portions are typically a bit smaller.

Daniela said...

We'll be there the last weekend this month. Are you going to the Field Museum? I SO am! It has been on my list for quite some time. I'm really excited.

We got a bedroom on the train because the husband couldn't fathom what the leg room would be like in the regular seating.

I love travelling by train!

Mrs. Furious said...

I haven't mapped out the whole trip yet. We are definitely hitting the American Girl Doll Store... as the one I handed down is in need of new (not mouse eaten) clothes!
And we are going to the aquarium... Mr F & Kid are practically staying up at night they are so excited about it.

Our trip is only 4 hours so no bedroom for us.

Daniela said...

We're going to the aquarium too! I think our hotel is directly across the street from it. Since we're going to be without kids, we're not going to any kid-specific outings (hurray!) There will be Nordstroms and quite possibly, shoes.

I just applied to a local hospital to see if I can get in just so we can have benefits and the husband will be Mr. Mom. It will likely be that whatever I find there will pay more than the bottom of the barrel jobs he has had to apply to as of late due to the lack of employment in the area.

I'm going to have to start buying Barilla Plus. I just noticed that they had it in the grocery store, but was unsure of how it'd taste. I had whole wheat pasta that was better left in the box as it was like eating wood chips. It could've been completely my fault, but still; there it is.

I'm off to make dinner. Lasagne.

Mrs. Furious said...

have fun on your kid free trip!

Barilla Plus is great and I actually DON'T like whole wheat pasta either.

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