Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eating Clean When You're Eating Out

Happy Birthday Shiloh! :-) 17! Wooohoo!

We'll be heading to Olive Garden tonight. I've narrowed down my choices to either the Grilled Salmon (calories 510; total fat 26g, with 6g sat fat; 5 carbs and 760 mg sodium) or the Parmesan Tilapia (calories 590; total fat 25g with 10g sat fat; carbs 42g; sodium 910 mg), or the Apricot Chicken (sodium is 1420! Yikes! Calories: 380; Total fat: 4, sat fat 1.5; Carbs 32g; Fiber 8g). While the sodium is highest in the Chicken dish (and these are the lowest sodium dinners on the menu!), the fat is lowest, fiber highest (out of my choices). The carbs would be inline with the protein, so despite the sodium (my whole day's worth!), it's probably my best choice, nutritionally. I can combat the sodium by drinking extra water and having a banana when we get home.

While the published nutritional information is not always accurate, it's better than going in blind. Had I not looked up the info already, my "blind" pick would have probably been the Seafood Brodetto... looks good, not a cream based dish, at 35 g carbs it balances with the protein content, and has 7g of fiber... it also has 2250 mg of sodium!

When eating out, if you can research the menu ahead of time, you're ahead of the game. I know the compromises I'm willing to make, and the ones I'm not. I'll take the extra sodium in the Apricot Chicken, but not the 110g of carbs in the Shrimp Primavera. I'll take the 8g of fiber in the chicken dish instead of the 27g of fiber in the Chicken Parmigiana because I don't want the 1090 calories, 49g of fat (18 sat fat) and 3380 mg of sodium that go with it.

Making good choices involves looking at all the data... on the surface, the lowest sodium dinner item is the Herb-Grilled Salmon, but that low sodium comes with 26 g of fat and only 2 g of fiber. You've got to know going in what you're willing to compromise on, and how far you'll compromise. You also need to know that you have the right to special request, and insist on, a meal made your way... You can order the salmon cooked dry (no olive oil or butter), or lightly oiled, and not salted, you can order the veggies without salt or butter... you control it, to a certain extent. Don't be afraid to order off-menu. I've gone into restaurants and requested a single chicken breast cooked in 1 tbsp olive oil with dry & unsalted steamed veggies. I've gotten what I've wanted. It's not a big deal. You're paying them to cook your food, don't be afraid to be picky.

Now.... that said.... It's also ok to have a celebratory meal, a treat. Even if it's full of fat, sodium and whatnot. A treat (by definition: rare) will not undo your work or your lifestyle. A treat will not derail you, and might even help shake up your metabolism by making it deal with things it doesn't normally have to. Rock the status-quo!  This dinner tonight is for my daughter's birthday, and I am totally comfortable going in there and having "whatever I want" knowing that it's a treat. However, frankly, the Apricot Chicken looks the best to me :-) Plus, I had ice-cream cake last weekend. Lol.

I don't need the saucy pastas or breadsticks. I do need to have a relaxing dinner with my family celebrating the life of my beloved daughter at her favorite restaurant.

Eating the way I eat isn't difficult, it's not a burden - not on me or anyone around me. Who cares why I choose the Apricot Chicken? It's not a matter of "I can't eat this or that", it's simply my choice. I could choose to eat something else, fully understanding the consequences. But, since I can't go jump on the treadmill tomorrow (not that doing so would entirely erase a treat meal) because of my current knee situation, I'll choose something that I don't have to work off. I'm thinking it'll probably be pretty tasty, too. :-)

Some of you who read this blog often might be wondering, Hey, wait a minute... don't you do date-night once a week? Isn't that a treat meal? That's not rare, it's weekly! What's up with that!?

Allow me to explain...  :-)   As I've progressed in my clean eating lifestyle over the last several years, the choices I make for treat meals (including date nights) have improved. I can eyeball a menu fairly accurately, deciding what I'm willing to splurge on and what I'm not. Because our favorite food is Mexican, I'm fairly safe choosing black beans and a soft corn tortilla taco over a breaded & fried relleno... but on occasion (there's that "rare" thing I was talking about) I'll get the relleno because I love them and sometimes I'm ok with splurging on the fat. I don't do the relleno every friday. Also, my activity level allows me a certain leeway to enjoy more treats, than when I was actively losing the weight. It's a benefit to maintaining my weight loss and active lifestyle. It's also an area I have to adjust as situations arise... like my knees and new reduced activity. No relleno's for me for a while. And that's ok, too, because I like the tacos :-)

What's your attitude towards dining out? How do you make your choices, and why?

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