Addicted to Restaurants Are you addicted to restaurants? So are lots of Americans. What used to be a “treat,” going out for dinner, has become more common that cooking at home, and we think we’re better off? Think again. Restaurant eating, fast foods and highly processed foods are turning us into a nation of tubby’s. It’s time to take back control of our waistlines. You choose where you eat, and you choose what you eat. Here are some suggestions to begin to make better choices. Restaurants Exist to Make a Profit The bottom line is restaurants exist to make a profit. They pile on the extra butter and rich cream sauces, carmelized sugar toppings, cheese sauce, double-deluxe, new improved, and whatever they can do to make the food so enticing, so delicious, we just cannot resist. Fine for an occasional splurge, but not everyday fare, and herein lies the problem. Extra Value Meals McDonalds started the trend by offering slightly larger portions for a bit more money, and every other food establishment quickly followed suit. Extra value they called it. Who wouldn’t order a bit more for only pennies? Today nearly every restaurant, fast food or sit down dining, serves gigantic quantities that boggle the mind. There is usually enough food served for two, sometimes three meals. Reading in Restaurant Confidential (get a copy of this book and read it until it sinks in), the calorie count in the typical restaurant meal is so staggering it ends the surprise of why obesity is rampant and on the rise. Cheese fries with Ranch dressing are listed at having over 3,000 calories and 217 grams of fat (91 of them saturated). That’s an entire day’s worth of food, and it’s considered an appetizer. Most people don’t just eat the cheese fries either, so add in the rest of your day’s calories and you end up with far more than you may realize. Anyone who eats out regularly (at least once a day) is likely consuming closer to 5,000 calories a day, which easily explains their being overweight. Getting the Calories Out of Restaurant Food Unless you mentally make it okay to pay good money for very plain foods, you’re not likely to solve this puzzle. Here are a couple of painless ideas you can put into action at restaurants: 1. Just say NO to super sizing. The size you ordered is already too big. Stop super sizing and you’ll save money (see How to Save Money and Lose Weight). 2. Skip the bread and rolls served with most meals. Most family restaurants still serve a bread basket with your meal. Unless it’s a fresh baked loaf, or some special bread, just skip it. You don’t need to fill up on ordinary bread when you’re paying good money for a meal – just push it away – it’s not that good. You can do it, if you want to – it’s not that hard to simply choose not to put a roll on your plate. Try it, just once and see if you don’t walk out of that restaurant feeling strangely powerful. If you can’t skip the rolls, at least skip the butter. That’s right. Eat it plain. Bread all by itself is good enough. 3. Stop ordering drinks with your meals. I stopped buying the soft drinks many years ago when I realized they are a huge cash cow for the fast food restaurants. For pennies, they sell you a squirt of syrup and soda water and act like they’re doing you a big favor by only charging you $1.29 for a giant 64 oz. soda. Start saving those dollars. If you take the meal home, just don’t get a drink, and if you’re eating it there, ask for water, or at least switch to diet drinks. Never drink “fat pop.” 5. Trim visible fat and skin. You really love the skin – of course it tastes good, it should, it’s pure fat. Do you want to get leaner, or do you want to eat fat? You choose. I never eat chicken skin, and never eat the visible fat hanging off a steak, good taste or no. You have to decide what you want more, the second’s worth of pleasure of a yummy taste, or a lifetime of carrying around an extra 40 lbs? 6. Ask for a doggie bag at the beginning of the meal. When the food is served, immediately portion off some to take home for tomorrow. Some restaurants always serve too much. Do this at those establishments to get used to the idea. 7. Get a copy of Restaurant Confidential and start checking out how much you’re eating. Yes, I mentioned this twice. It’s important. If you think eating out isn’t causing part of the problem, I say, you’re fooling yourself. This little book can help you realize what’s been going on, and then you may find it easier to choose other dishes, split the meal into two, or skip some extras. 8. Order one dinner and ask for an extra plate. Many restaurants will do this for $1.00 or $1.50 extra and it’s well worth it. Then share the meal with your friend and you split the cost straight down the middle. Turn Eating Out Back into a Treat If you really want to get a handle on your weight problem, then first look at where you eat, second what you eat, and third how much you eat. If you absolutely cannot give up going to restaurants or fast food places every day, then you must start ordering plain, unadorned foods. I you can’t do that (which I can’t) then just go out less often. Turn it back into a treat, a special occasion type thing, and then eat whatever you want. Find what works for you, and then do it. Train your Eye to Accept Less Food Start training your eye to accept less food on the plate. We’ve taught ourselves to expect heaps of food, but your body doesn’t need such huge quantities. Frankly, it takes a very tiny amount of food to supply our needed nutrients. If they developed a pill which contained all the calories and nutrients our bodies required, no one would want to take it. We like to eat. Eating is pleasurable, it’s part of the makeup and experience of being human. Take back control of that most basic of human needs. Cook at home for friends and bring joy back into your life through food. If I Ate Out More Often I’d Gain Weight – it’s That Simple I know I maintain my weight with an average of about 2,200 calories a day. That’s more than most dieters strive for, so how do I get away with eating that much — I make better choices. If I started eating out at restaurants more often, I’d suddenly be eating nearly double what I eat now (calorie wise), without even trying. Double the calories and guess what? Weight gain won’t be far behind. Trying to radically change your approach to food or exercise is rarely successful. More people that are successful at losing weight and keeping it off do so by making changes and incorporating them into their lifestyle. Start now. Choose one habit (such as eating out every day) or regular food you eat, and decide to cut back on how often, or the quantity. Set a plan, and do it. Make a deal with yourself and keep it. If you find you cannot – that you set yourself too strict a cutback, then modify it and do it again. Keep at it and you’ll be successful. If you eat out every day during the week for lunch, here’s a plan to make a small change. Carry your lunch one day a week, or save the extra from dinner out on Sunday night for lunch on Monday. Get together with your coworkers for a walking lunch every Wednesday. If there’s a gym of fitness club in the vicinity of your work, join along with your coworkers and make an agreement to work out together three days a week, at lunch time. Take brown bag foods you can eat at your desk those days. These small changes add up to big results. Try a couple in your daily life and see what happens.
Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com
Get the Daily Bites: Inspirational Mini Lessons Using EFT and NLP for Ending the Struggle with Weight Loss.