Have you ever opted out of going to a restaurant because you knew (or feared) that it would mess up your diet, and/or you didn’t want to be tempted? Or have you gone out but only ordered a salad because that seemed like the healthy option, whether or not that’s what you wanted?
I’ve done both.
One time during my weight loss process, some of my company’s clients came to town. I got invited to join them for a couple of meals at some fairly high-end restaurants. I said no. I don’t remember what excuse I gave, but I certainly didn’t tell the truth: I was scared to go because it might jeopardize my progress.
Another time, shortly after the weight loss, I visited friends overseas. Most days we went out to eat once, and much of the time I got salad. Then one day we ended up eating lunch and dinner at restaurants. Both times I ordered – you guessed it, salad. One of my friends looked at me oddly and asked, “Don’t you get tired of salads?”
In truth I didn’t mind having it twice, but it’s also true that I didn’t even pause to consider if that’s what I wanted. I simply got what I thought I should have.
I’ve been thinking about this recently because one of those overseas friends just came to visit me for three and a half days, and I ate out more than I normally do in a three-month time period. But this time, it was different.
I once ordered a bean salad, and one sandwich came with a side salad, but I didn’t specifically request it. Otherwise, while I didn’t throw the idea of healthy options out the window, I also didn’t let it control me. Rather, I made my food choices based on what seemed most appealing at the time and how hungry I felt. (I also slightly relaxed my allergy restrictions.)
As a result, my meals out this time had much more variety:
Garlic naan and chicken biryani (a dish including vegetables, cashews, and fried rice, among other things)
Tofu jerk chicken wrap and side salad
A gluten-free chocolate sea salt donut (so good)
Bean salad, roasted red pepper and tomato soup, a Luna bar, and an apple
Haddock with a mushroom ragout, polenta, some delicious pieces of bread, grilled shrimp, and a chocolate caramel torte
Chocolate Caramel Torte
It meant that I didn’t feel deprived in any way, but I also didn’t feel like I’d overdone it. We walked enough that my body really wanted that food. It made for a much more relaxed and enjoyable dining out experience, and it served as a good reminder that, if I’m mindful, I can have my cake and eat it, too.