April has brought many reasons to celebrate. Which is a good thing until I realized how much it means that one ends up eating out. I celebrated second anniversary of my business, a successful event planning, a girlfriend’s birthday, my best friend’s mother’s birthday and this month not even over yet. Eating out has become part of our social culture and I realize how much of it can be mindless. While enjoying the company and the joy of the celebration it is easy to lose sight of the overall goal of maintaining a balanced diet.
I employ some of these tricks of trade to keep a handle on my eating out:
1. Keep a record. I enter all meals eaten out into my calendar. This way I can track how many times a week (or month) am I eating out and where. It helps give me a perspective and plan better for the following week (or month).
2. Make two meals out of one. I ask for a box with my meal so that I can pack half the meal even before I begin to eat. This way I have the satisfaction of finishing everything on my plate and not wasting any food. Another way to make two meals from one is to share with your companion. It makes for great conversation choosing what to share.
3. Stick to the partial menu. While choosing the items I stick to only the appetizers/small plates and soup/salad menu. I can choose two small appetizers or a salad and an appetizer. That way I have a plate in front of me while my co-diners have their meal courses.
4. Drink water. This seems minor but makes a big difference. Keeps my mouth busy, hydrates me and fills me up a little too. especially if I choose to have a glass of wine with the meal, alternating between sips of wine and water stretches wine over a longer period of the meal.
5. Choose a drink or share a dessert. I have to make up my mind on this one as soon as I arrive at the meal so that I don’t get swayed. I often discuss this with my companions as part of discussing the menu. Sometimes I even joke that I start checking out the menu starting with the dessert section. If something strike me I will convince someone at the table to share it with me and skip the wine.
6. Don’t skip the exercise. When eating out is planned, I have to make sure that I don’t make any excuse for missing the workout. No matter what I end up eating a little more or not quite the MyPlate version my usual meals.
A recent study has shown that when there are food restrictions, “reactive eaters” crave them more. Enjoy eating out as part of a balanced life. Don’t deprive yourself of indulgences. Be mindful of your choices and enjoy the celebrations of life.