I am sure many women â€“ myself once included â€“ are afraid of restaurants. What should be one of the most wonderful opportunities to enjoy new foods prepared in fancy ways becomes a fearful and dreaded occasion because of the reputation restaurants have for being tempting calorie traps of oil, butter and grease. We have pounded into our minds that restaurants = bad so much that we often are afraid of what should be a really fun experience.
Remember: Restaurants serve FOOD!! Not poison! Food is nutritious. We need to eat food to live! Food tastes good. Food does not make you fat. Nor does a little butter or extra oil. When you remove all the stereotypes of restaurants to just an establishment serving food that we need to live, the doors open and welcome you in.
Going out to dinner is perhaps my all-time favorite leisure activity. I love getting dressed up, I love trying new flavor combinations, and I love the ambiance of restaurants. I love the festive atmosphere of a group of family and friends around a table.
We all know the â€œrulesâ€ of restaurant eating: Skip bread and dessert, order a salad with dressing on the side, pack up half your entrÃ©e before you dig in. But here are a few tips to approach eating out with a bit less restriction and a bit more enthusiasm:
- Eat the portion youâ€™d eat at home. Order whatever you want, but donâ€™t eat it all. If youâ€™re craving the pasta, donâ€™t be boring and order the plain chicken breast. Get the pasta! Just eat a portion that youâ€™d eat if you were preparing it for yourself at home. Maybe even less since you know the dish will be extra rich.
- Choose foods in their whole state. You canâ€™t stuff the inside of a steak with butter (well, I guess you can but most of the time they arenâ€™t J). If youâ€™re unsure which of the three entrees youâ€™re deciding between will do the least damage, pick the food that has the least amount of surface area. The peppercorn-crusted steak or the pan-seared fish. Chances are there is less butter and oil throughout than in, say, the pasta in cream sauce.
- Order something you wouldnâ€™t normally cook. Again, the emphasis is fun here! I am boring and always order salads (which I truly do love) and seafood (which I also love and actually donâ€™t cook at home that much). But when I have a beautiful menu set in front of me, sometimes I set a new fun rule to order something I wouldnâ€™t normally order. Just to mix it up a bit and try something new.
- Make your only goal of the evening to listen to your fullness cues and stop before you are too full. Have a piece of bread, a glass of wine, slowly eat your entrÃ©e mindfully leaving room for dessert, and then have a bite of the chocolate cake being passed around the table. Sure, youâ€™ll probably eat more calories than you need that night, but youâ€™ll probably also eat less the next day to compensate.Â Itâ€™s all about the Squiggly Line Effect, folks J
So the next time you get invited to dinner, take the time to enjoy every moment. Restaurant fear takes the fun out of life!
What are your thoughts on eating in restaurants? Do they scare you? Are you comfortable ordering anything you please?