Monday, September 1, 2014

Take Me Out Tonight

My First Taste of Ethiopian
I do enjoy dining out. First and foremost, restaurant food is delicious. The flavors are more delectable and savory than the meals I prepare at home, the salt and seasonings used to create tastes that I find delightful are combinations that I don't use everyday. My cooking is fairly simple, as I am not a gourmet chef and the meals I prepare these days are more organic and plant based because of limiting saturated fats and added sugars.

Restaurant food should be more complicated, or different or interesting in ways I don't eat on a day to day basis or why else would I go out to eat? There is that wonderful part of being able to savor and enjoy the meal without looking ahead to the inevitable clean-up that is there waiting for me when I cook in my own kitchen.

My Favorite All-American Breakfast
This Version Was Very Greasy 
A few of my first choices for eating out are Thai, Mexican, Greek and American. These are my favorites and the go-to restaurant choices I make whenever I eat out. (I do not have the budget for superfine dining and I am not sure if I would appreciate it if I did.)

Lately, it has been more challenging and sometimes disappointing when I go out to eat. I like what I like and I often choose the same foods because when I buy these dishes, I know they are going to be delicious. I admit my choices prior to Serving Size Summer were rarely salad or plant based meals.

But these days, I have found that when I choose the foods that fit my plan, I am happier than when I choose the foods that have added to my weight problem.

My first "Dining Out Challenge" occurred shortly after June 21st, the beginning of this experiment. A friend and I from work had developed a weekly habit of eating out, sometimes two or three times. Subway, Branks BBQ and Puerto Vallarta were our go-to restaurants. Surprisingly, Branks BBQ was the least harmful to me because we always ordered their Schooner Salad with chicken, dressing on the side. 

Subway also seemed like a fairly good choice, even though I really love their tuna sub and don't choose it because of all the mayo. Subway is safe, right? After all, Jared lost so much weight eating subway that it seemed like we were doing ourselves a favor by eating there. Never mind that I always ordered my sandwich with a bag of chips.

Thirteen tortilla chips and two
tablespoons salsa are serving sizes.
No, the real challenge was my favorite Mexican restaurant, Puerto Vallarta. 

An example of what I think is the best dish at the Puerto Vallarta Mexican restaurant I enjoy with friends is the chicken chimichanga meal. This oversized burrito is a deep-fried flour tortilla wrapped chicken and bean ball of deliciousness and wonder. Very few establishments get this dish wrong, which is why I like it so much.

These dinners are usually served with cheese-topped refried beans, salad and rice. Add guacamole and sour cream and it is heaven on a hot plate. (Just writing this makes me want to make refried beans for lunch. A serving size, of course.)

June 25th we went to the Puerto Vallarta restaurant, I remember feeling very anxious about how I was going to make the huge dish of food into a reasonable serving size. I had only been eating serving sizes for four days. Blowing my plan in the first week wasn't an option, but I didn't want to cut the chimichanga in half and the better way to go would have been to order something to share, but I stubbornly stuck to my favorite. 

Luckily the chimichanga wasn't one of those gigantic ones that we all are so happy to see on the plate but that really do some damage to the ol' arteries. So, I cut the beans, rice, sour cream and guacamole in half and moved them to another plate. In doing this, I felt like I was tricking myself into thinking it wasn't my food and I didn't need to eat it.

This is a very good way to do it, I have decided. If I only deal with the food on my plate, it feels very satisfying.

The wait staff was very curious about what I was up to because I kept taking pictures of my food as well. But, this worked for me at the time. It was the first of many attempts to navigate the very difficult task of eating out and still feeling satisfied. I like to think they thought I was some fancy schmancy food critic.

One of Our Shared Lunches... My Contribution
Because dining out is so expensive, calorically and financially, my friend Nannette and I devised a plan that has been fun, economical for us both and saved me many tough decisions about eating serving sizes at restaurants. We make lunches for each other. It is almost like going out to eat because someone else has prepared the food for you. We just alternate days of brown-bagging, which gives us each every other day off meal prep.

Nannette is very good about making sure I know the nutrition information and will text me a picture of the packaging while she is preparing lunch at her home. This is an awesome instance of gathering people around myself who are totally supportive of my efforts to improve my health. She makes it very easy.

After working at this project for two months, I do try to make better restaurant choices. The last time I ate Mexican, I chose a taco salad and left off the sour cream. The plate was still way more than one person should eat. I am not such a good dieter that I took part of it home to finish at another meal. 

When faced with these difficult choices, made more challenging because I am a food addict, I can't promise to make the best decisions, but I always try. 

I have several events coming up in the next week that are going to be tricky. I know what the consequences are for not staying to my plan of serving sizes, and not choosing "no seconds." I spend a week or two trying to get myself back to my lowest weight. As much as I try not to focus on the weight, I have to keep diligent and remember I gain weight so quickly that it takes two extra bites over my calorie limit to cause an immediate gain of a few pounds the next morning.

I am not so nervous about eating out as I was in that first week. I have a better idea of what works for me and what doesn't and I also have a choice of sticking to the plan or eating the restaurant serving size and not beat myself up if it wasn't a perfect choice. I will have a chance to make a better decision at the next meal or the next day. It has to be no pressure. And it is all okay.

Yoda said "Do or do not. There is no try." He got it wrong. None of us are perfect and some days all we can do is try. If we can't "do," we try again.

So bring it on and take me out tonight!


  1. Great ideas Darcy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for reading, Debbie. Only 18 days left of my little experiment!