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How Moms Can Make Healthy Choices in a Restaurant

family-pizza-nightScene: Local restaurant.  Mom is seated at a table with her children.  They peruse the menu.  Mom’s looking for healthy foods, trying to create a meal in line with her plan to eat healthy.  She’s fasted all day, just to be able to eat out, and doesn’t want to blow it all on one meal.  Kids are searching for anything fried, sugary, or fattening.  Anything that the Mom recommends, the kids reject.  The choices begin.  “Pizza!” clamor the children.  “Hot dogs!  Grilled cheese!  Cheese Steaks!”  Mom offers grilled chicken breasts and steamed vegetables, but the kids want no part of it and their choruses ring louder than ever.  Throwing up her hands in defeat, Mom decides that she might as well join them and soon, everyone is chin deep in fried mozzarella appetizers and an overstuffed meat lovers deep dish pizza, served with two pitchers of cola and one of beer for the adults.  Mom’s Diet, and more importantly everyone’s Healthy Eating, blown again.

How many times has this happened to you?  How many mistakes can you spot, both in Mom’s reasoning and, in fact, the entire scenario?  Let’s look.

To begin, Mom should never skip meals in order to be able to eat out.  This leads to overeating at the next meal, and can cause risky metabolic changes, such as elevated blood glucose and and delayed insulin response — fancy terms that boil down to MORE difficulty in weight loss, not ease.  No one wants that. Mom should eat a bit lighter at her earlier meals, and the entire family could eat a piece of fruit before heading to the restaurant.

Secondly, who says that the only healthy choice on a menu are plain chicken breast and steamed veggies?  Don’t get me wrong, I happen to really enjoy both of those foods, but not every meal.  Eating out doesn’t have to mean it’s either a free for all with your calories or exile to blah land.  Ordering a higher fat dish to share with the table is a good strategy, as is ordering a meal from the children’s menu.  (There are some restaurants that offer children’s meals in portions large enough for a linebacker!)  Maybe there are two appetizers that are diet friendly Mom could have had in place of dinner.  Even pizza’s not a bad choice – instead of unlimited meat, what about tons of veggies and a bit less cheese?

Start your meal with a clear soup or a salad, dressing on the side.  Dip the tines of your fork into the dressing rather than pouring it onto the plate, and you’ll be amazed at how much less dressing you eat — with no loss of flavor!  Order those steamed veggies with some lemon, or carry some powdered butter in your pocketbook to dress the vegetables with a burst of flavor.

Skip the cola and beer — empty calories.  Drink water.  Really. I promise, you’ll be satisfied.  You can go out for a meal and not blow your diet, just make informed choices.

April 23rd, 2009

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