Dining Out – A Refresher Course

On Saturday, a friend and I went on a four mile Heartsore Hike. (Okay, it was on a paved trail and not really a hike, but Heartsore Walk doesn’t have the same ring to it.) Both of us are struggling through some things and decided that motion was a good way to deal with it.  The walk was fantastic and we were both in better spirits afterwards; so, we headed out to Mimi’s Cafe for lunch.

mimis breakfastI haven’t been to Mimi’s in over two years and was really looking forward it. I ordered an Omelette Basquaise – substituting fresh cut fruit for provençal potatoes and a buttermilk spice muffin for toast.  I ate all the fruit, but half of everything else. The food was as savory as I remember.  It was tough to do, but I ate slowly and was careful to consume only half plus a slice of that carrot bread they bring out. I mean, seriously. Have you tasted that?! I could climb in a bin of it and eat my way out! Anyway, since we were talking over our meal, I didn’t check loseit.com for nutritional information and I didn’t think to ask for a chart.

Big mistake.

When I got home, I put everything into my food diary.  Because I don’t know how many ounces were in the carrot bread slice, I estimated that item.  My estimate put my meal at 975 calories – and that’s just the portion I ate!

Had I ordered the potatoes instead of the fruit, eaten my whole omelette, the carrot bread and the whole muffin, my meal would have chalked up a huge 1880 calories.  That’s more than my entire daily allotment! Mimi’s has lighter options I could have chosen.  Had I done the smart thing and asked for the chart prior to ordering, I would have had a much healthier meal.

At present, not all restaurants are required to provide nutritional information on their menu offerings. Those who do are not required to have their foods tested in labs; however, if they make certain claims, they must be able to substantiate those claims.  For instance, if a restaurant claims that their mashed potatoes are low-fat, then the serving can contain no more than three grams of fat.  The serving must comply with FDA definitions.

We’ve talked about portion control.  It is particularly important in the context of eating out. Enormous portions are served on enormous plates, tricking our eyes and helping us to overeat. We already know that we need to divide the portion in at least half the instant it arrives, instantly creating a more reasonable portion. I’ve heard of people boxing up that half portion immediately.  My friend Julia even brings her own glass containers to also avoid contributing to landfills. Even with a reasonable portion, we don’t know what’s actually in it.

Most chain restaurants have nutritional information charts or brochures available upon request to tell us what’s in our food. Next time, I’m going to do myself a favor and request it!

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