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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - If a Little is Good....

...More must be Better!  Our all-you-can-eat thinking is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  Eating out can be hazardous to one's waistline.  Restaurants serve single portions that eclipse my intake for three meals.  A European restaurant started charging fines to people who do not clean up their plates.  The patron was tired of all the food waste.  Perhaps if she offered smaller portions, she could reduce waste AND refrain from alienating her clientele. 

But help is on the way.  Soon all food/restaurant chains with 20 or more locations must provide nutritional data.  I applaud the many  that do so voluntarily now, such as The Olive Garden, Panera Bread, Noodles & Co., Old Chicago, Culvers, and a host of fast food eateries. 

But there is MUCH room for improvement.  If you want a "lite" version of a given entree you often  have to ask that it be prepared in a special way.  When I go out to eat, someone else is supposed to be responsible for the cooking.  If I have to instruct the waiter or counter staff how to prepare my food (according to their own policy), heck, I may as well go home and make it myself. LOL

A friend and I wanted to split a 9 ounce steak - which we knew would cook down to about 7 ounces, giving us each 3.5 ounces of meat.  The waitress insisted that there would not be enough meat - that we would be unhappy with our choice.  She was wrong.  Waiters and waitresses stand to lose a portion of their tips if two people order just one meal, with no appetizers, no booze and no dessert.  So if you split a meal, tip the wait staff a little more generously. 

Another option is to order something decadent, even if its more than I can eat.  I ask for a carry out container when the food arrives.  I want to cut everything in half, and take it home with me, to enjoy the next day.  To keep from overeating (just because the food is in front of me), I want to pack it up before I begin eating.  Waiters and waitresses can't understand this and invariably bring me the container at the end of the meal, not the beginning.  By that time I may have already snitched some of tomorrow's brown bag lunch!

And then there are bottomless glasses of sugar-laden, caffeinated soda pop.  If your kid orders one of these - watch out!  The refills are automatically brought to the table.  This is how we end up with 1 in 3 children being overweight.  And how about the alcohol...there are about 100 calories in a 1/2 cup of white wine.  But restaurants easily provide 2-4 times as much.  I've encountered just one exception...a restaurant that has a 100 calorie margarita. That was perfect!

Food and menu trends will be moving in our direction soon.  If profit margins are in jeopardy, food manufacturers and restaurants will set a higher priority to provide flavorful, attractive and balanced meals in appropriate portions.

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