Eating Out with a Plan

by Bert Jackson on February 1, 2011

Dine out with intent

So here we all are, day one, for those of us on Dr. Rhonda’s 90-day vegan challenge. Oprah Wimpfrey only challenged her staff to a week!

One of the roadblocks to eating well is eating out. In some cases, we have to eat out, in other cases, we just need to BE out (especially those of us that work from a home office). Eating out is ripe with possibilities of falling off the wagon, but it doesn’t have to be. A little advance preparation can make dining out enjoyable and successful.

First, try to get the menu from your intended dining establishment ahead of time. Most places have a menu online, and those that don’t will probably fax a menu to you. This will allow you to review options ahead of time that fit in with your intended dietary success zone. It is far easier to make those decisions when you are not under the pressure of an order taker, friends having things you shouldn’t, and the aromas of the eatery tantalizing your senses.

Next, rehearse some of the conversations and temptations you may encounter. “Would you like a nice slab of melted cheddar cheese on that vegeburger?” “No, thanks.” Say it to yourself a few times before walking through the door. Also be prepared for peer pressure from your “friends”. “Ah, c’mon, just one cupcake won’t kill ya!” “No, thanks!” Just like in sports, if you practice a move enough times, when it presents itself in the pressure of the game you simply react based on your training.

Be sure to watch some of the gotchas in “healthy” restaurant food! Salad dressing! Safest bet is oil and vinegar. You know what you’ve got, and you control the proportions and quantities. Prepared salad dressings are often loaded with fat, salt, and even sugar! Same for sauces in vegetarian pasta dishes. Don’t be afraid to ask your server for details on ingredients.

And finally, don’t feel compelled to clean your plate. Many restaurants serve portions appropriate to a late-teenage farm hand. Feel free to ask for a doggy bag or simply, leave the rest. Often, when I get a big plate of food I immediately divide it in half with the intent of taking part home.

What tactics do you use for mindful public dining?

Image thanks to Caya O

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