Sunday, November 8, 2009

Eating Out Again

So I'm writing this article on eating out. And I've gotten hundreds of responses from dietitians. It's amazing. I really have gotten a mountain of e-mails. It seems that dietitians do not eat out that much. I'd say most eat out a few times a month. Not sure if it's a money issue or a health issue or if they just don't like to eat out. And these are average weight (by their own report) dietitians. Interesting. I eat out many times a week and some days, many times in one day. And I am not average weight---by my own report. Light bulb moment. And the revelation is....nothing. We all know that food prepared away from home has way more calories so it stands to reason that if someone is "prone" to gaining weight and eats out often, the results will be additional poundage.
The dietitians who say they eat out infrequently cite "liking to cook" as one of the reasons. Well, I like to cook but I also like to eat out. In fact, I love to eat out. I mean, there are times when I don't want to go out. I don't want to be in a room of strangers, being served by a stranger. I don't want to eat with a fork and wear clean clothes. But those times are rare. More often, I look forward to the interactions and I surely look forward to the flavors.
So I get why the dietitians who eat out infrequently are average weight but I don't know how to transform myself into someone who would be happy eating out only a few times a month.

6 comments:

Megan said...

I struggle with the same thing. My family and I eat out ALL THE TIME. Reading your post has made me realize that this is probably a major factor in my struggle to lose weight. It would be interesting to see how people have dealt with this!

Selena Devries said...

I can't say that I eat out all the time, but I do think I have some suggestions. Whenever I eat out, all sauces, dressings, spreads on the side. I most often will always choose something that is baked or broiled over deep fried. However, on some occasions (not often), I will order something deep fried if I really want it, but then will sacrifice something else, say dessert. When you eat out, you get a lot of food, too much actually. And, many of us have been brought up to finish everything on our plate. Always order a salad to start and never finish more than half of what you order for your main. If you eat out all the time choose one of the three...alcohol, bread basket, or dessert.

Fatty Matty said...

Dressings and sauces belong on the food. That's how the chef conceived the dish and that's how it should be served. If you order dressing and sauce on the side then you are changing the dish. I pay chefs to cook for me in their style. If I wanted to conceive the dish, I'd cook at home. "Sacrifice dessert"? Hmmm. The word sacrifice is bothersome to me. It's exactly what I want to avoid. It sounds like punishment. I tend to choose upscale restaurants where the portions are not too big--at least not since the economic "slow down". In fact, one of our favorite restaurants serves a three course meal for $35 and we don't walk away feeling stuffed at all. As for never finishing more than half....that's artificial to me. That goes against the teachings of intuitive and mindful eating. A person should eat until she's satisfied. Might be half or one quarter or the entire meal. Look for my article in Today's Dietitian in January on the topic of advice that dietitians give to people that might not be the best advice.

Selena Devries said...

The reason why I say never to finish more than half of your meal when you eat out is because most people have lost "mindful and intuitive" eating. They, typically, will finish whatever is put in front of them and do not pay attention as to how full they actually are getting. I say, as a general guideline, to eat half because typical restaurant servings are 2-3 times the size of a regular meal. In fine dining establishments, as you are describing, you are more than correct that the servings here, for the most part, reflect more appropriate servings. However, if this is your typical dinner, then a 3-course meal along with bread basket, glass of wine, dessert can well add up to 1000+ calories if you're not careful. I suggest either choosing the bread basket, wine, or dessert for when you regularly eat out (help to lower overall calorie content) and for special occasions enjoy all 3. Maybe sacrifice was the wrong word - compromise, exchange, give and take - I am not saying you need to make the sauces/dressings yourself, but asking for them on the side is a small request and does not drastically change the meal. It's the action of you pouring the amount on yourself, instead of the chef. Usually you really don't need as much as they give which is why I suggest that. But, if you really are against it, then I would suggest choosing foods that do not contain creamy sauces, deep fried, or laden with cheeses etc. As you are an R.D., I'm sure you know what the healthier alternatives would be.

Fatty Matty said...

Thank you for continuing to comment. This is great. Sorry to be so argumentative but I'm hoping that in the back and forth we'll discover something that wakes me up!!!
Knowing and doing....two different things. Of course I "know" but walking the walk, that's another story. I walk into a restaurant with the best intentions, sit down at the table determined to be on target with my meal and then lose all focus as soon as I see french fries or even just the word "fried" on the menu. Since I don't drink or care that much about bread, I don't have a problem with your recommendation (a good one, by the way) to choose one of the three. In fact, I can ignore the dessert as well since I don't really like chocolate that much and most desserts are chocolate. It's the main meal that is the issue. I will choose wisely if nothing really tempts me but if there is a temptation then I'm a goner. And if it tastes really good, then I'm finishing it. I don't much like leftovers so the idea that I can have more tomorrow doesn't work for me. It's one thing to say no creamy sauces, no fried foods, etc., but if I were able to resist those I probably wouldn't be fat. I don't want healthier alternatives most of the time although I do love fish when it's well prepared and actually prefer fish without any sauce. When I polled dietitians recently about their suggestions for eating out, a few of them responded that people should eat out less. I certainly agree that when initially trying to make changes for health, it's probably better to stay away from temptation until you have some of the demons under control. In my case, however, I eat out for work (!) as well as for social reasons so avoiding restaurants is usually not an option. But I'm a "special" case and I do agree that cutting back on eating out adventures when trying to make habit changes is a good idea.

Selena Devries said...

I am glad to keep it going! I feel you can always learn something from everybody.
So, because a lot of your work requires you to eat out, staying away from them isn't all that of a practical solution. However, when it comes to dieting you need to find a happy medium. You can't have it all, something is going to have to go. You need to find healthier alternatives that you do enjoy. I think a lot of bad rap goes to the word "diet." To a lot of people, dieting means cutting out certain foods or severely restricting them. This will never work. Then you are always longing for them and once you finally cave in, you have massive guilt and end up overindulging. Gain weight, diet again, overindulge, and the cycle repeats. In your case, you like french fries, fried foods and who doesn't really? But, you can't eat them all the time for obvious reasons. Say you eat out 5 nights a week. My suggestion would be to gradually move to 1 "whatever you want" (fried, cheesey goodness or whatever appeals to you) meal/week (I'm assuming for the most part that right now you choose unhealthier meals every time you eat out). For the other 4 nights, choose wisely and healthier. This also gives you something to look forward to as you make it to the end of the week or whenever you prefer to have this meal. Start making one healthier meal choice/week and add 1 more healthier meal choice each week until you are up to 4 out of the 5 meals being healthy. And being healthy doesn't mean poached chicken, plain rice, and veges. Especially if you are eating in upscale places, healthy and delish good meals are on the menu! You just have to be looking for them.