Eat Out Fearlessly
To dine means to eat beautifully. Dining means thinking about your hunger number, giving thanks for your food, eating slowly, having a good time, and stopping eating when your stomach is comfortable. You can dine any time you eat out, even at fast-food restaurants. You can also, of course, dine at home.
Imagine eating out at any kind of restaurant—fast food, gourmet dining, or an all-you-can-eat buffet—without thinking about losing weight. Thin people don't think about dieting when they eat out. Why should you? Instead, eat like you're already at your ideal size!
Does this mean you can pig out? Of course not. When you're enjoying life at your ideal size, why would you ever pig out? It doesn't make sense.
So how do you eat out like someone at his or her ideal size? Actually, it's not hard. Every dining-out opportunity can help you reach and stay at your ideal size, even as you thoroughly enjoy the tastes and pleasures of the food.
What Eating Out Is About
Twenty-five years ago, forecasters predicted that Americans would begin to eat out much more often. Were they ever right! Why do we do it? For starters, eating out is convenient. Our lives seem busier than ever before, and we prefer not to take time to purchase and prepare foods. Second, we like to be served. It's just plain nice to have someone else prepare and serve food to us. Finally, it's for pleasure. We eat out for new tastes, for superb dishes, for relaxation, as a treat, to get away from the house, and for all sorts of pleasurable reasons.
Plain old nourishment is the least important reason. This is a good thing, actually. When you're eating out, you want the camaraderie, the friendship, the family, and all the pleasures of the experience to be more important than just eating. The food certainly counts, but let it be only one part of your total enjoyment. Even in a fast-food restaurant, you can choose to dine, or you can eat to get the food down and be done with it.
But I Paid for It!
Herein lies the biggest eating-out problem for some overweight people: they feel obliged to eat everything served. They think, “If I paid for it, you bet I'm going to eat it.” They think that if they don't eat all of the food served, they're wasting money.
This thinking is terrifically fattening. The hunger scale of 0-5 goes out the window after the food arrives because, well, all good eating intentions disappear. Instead, the diner consciously overeats to avoid wasting money … then blames overeating on the amount of food served! This is like raising your hand and saying, “Over here! I'll pay you to help me get fatter!” It's just crazy.
If you've tended to think this way, please forgive yourself and resolve to change. If you don't, you won't be able to eat out and also reach your ideal size.
Here are some incredibly simple ways to improve your eating-out style:
Don't let the quantity of food served or the attitude of a waitperson determine how you eat. The people who own, operate, or work at a restaurant aren't responsible for your weight. Only you are. Make sure that you're in charge when you eat out.
Eat enough (that is, eat up to 5 on the hunger scale) and take the rest home. Leftovers can be a real treat and can stretch your food dollars. Never be embarrassed to ask for a take-home box. It's a thin thing to do.
Share your meal with a friend. Couples can regularly share meals, and perhaps you can share a meal with some of your friends, too. The waitperson seldom bats an eyelash, even in the fanciest restaurant. Order an extra salad or side vegetable if you want. Sharing an entrée also makes it easier to save room in your stomach for dessert.
Think of eating out as entertainment. View the food as just part of the total experience. That way, if you have a great time and only eat part of your meal, you'll still get your money's worth.
Leave food on your plate. Convince yourself that it's “cool” and enlightened not to eat everything you are served. It certainly is more of a thin way of eating.
More on: Planning Healthy Meals for Families
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.