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What's for Lunch?

We all get tired of cooking. If you’re like me, you run a streak of eating out. The good news is that even if you eat out frequently, you can limit the negative side effects and make the next day’s lunch even more pleasurable.

Would you agree that foods prepared in restaurants are usually higher in fat, salt, sweeteners, and additives – to make them taste better? If we eat less restaurant food, we’re better off physically. Emotionally, though, these kinds of foods have a big-bang payoff, and we want to get our money’s worth.

But once the emotional need is met and we’ve overeaten, restaurant foods can leave us dragging and searching for a caffeinated beverage or some other personal favorite. Mine is high fat ice cream. Conditioning is king. That’s why we need good conditioning, but I’ll leave that for another article.

Do you feel that you eat out too much sometimes?

Yah, me too. So how do we make the most of a streak of eating out too much? I’ve got an idea. You ask for a to-go box before you start eating. This sounds like something you’ve heard before. But read on. Don’t wait until you’ve started. Don’t take one bite before the box comes. You may have to train the wait person and ask them more than once saying “I’m not going to eat one bite until I get my box!” Of course I’m exaggerating. But because they’re trained (conditioned) to bring the box at the end of the meal, they might not think you really mean “Bring it Now!!”

Sometimes you have to really ask for what you want.

It’s not a negative thing. It’s worth it. If we all start doing it, bringing the box at the start of a meal will be a conditioned response for the wait person. You might tease them saying you promised your kid you’d bring half back and you can’t be trusted unless you get a box up front. Make it fun and light. Or tell them it’s a weight loss strategy. Maybe they’ll adopt it too.

On to the Particulars

You cut the serving in half or whatever proportion seems right, and put that amount in the box immediately. If you’re like me, you can’t stand to give away the last bite of a tasty meal or to leave something on your plate. Call it programming or a survival urge, it’s pretty common to protect and defend the last bite.

How many times have you polished off a meal even though you got full at the ¾ mark? You thought, gosh, that’s not enough to box up. I’ll just eat it. Been there, done that. And then you kick yourself when you need to take an antacid swearing you’ll never do that again, until the next time.

So try cutting off a nice amount that you can eat the next day for lunch or for a snack. A side of pasta with a small side salad or cut up veggies is a real treat. I love it when I’m wise enough to box up the excess for another meal. And there IS a lot of excess in portion sizes at most restaurants. No wonder our bodies have been supersized. We love to get our money’s worth, so large portions are appealing to us. Capitalize on the large portion and box up the excess for the next day. You can split it with another person….but then you won’t have the other half for a lunch or snack :) See how I am?

Here’s another secret.

When I visit a restaurant that has an “endless” salad, breadsticks and an entre, for example at an Italian restaurant, I fill up on salad and eat a small amount of the entre – less than half. Then I have almost a full meal the next day. It also feels kinda naughty to cheat the system and get two meals for the price of one. Try it if you’re as naughty as I am. It will help your waistline too.

A small side salad sounds a lot more appealing if I know there’s a portion of yummy pasta to go with it. Leftovers can fit really nicely into a healthy meal plan. In fact, they’re a healthy pleasure. And if there’s no pleasure in it, it’s not food. So there.

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    Cheryl Miller is a wellness expert and life coach. She specializes in helping people take action to live a healthy, happy life . . . in this lifetime.

    Visit www.cherylmillerville.com for practical advice, inspiration and action steps for making healthy changes you desire. Be sure to get the FREE Wellness Pack:  http://cherylmillerville.com/wellness-pack 

    © 2005 Cheryl Miller, www.cherylmillerville.com. All rights reserved.

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