How to Eat Out and Not Get Fat!

Just the other night, after finally getting the kids into their pj's, teeth brushed, books read, stories told, and about 100 goodnights given, no sooner had I sat down and put my feet up did my husband come up from the basement with a big ass bag of laundry. The kids laundry. So much worse. Their clothes are soooooo little and so much can be stuffed into a laundry basket before you actually have to do any of it. Ugh. My deflated existence melted even further into the sofa as I pressed my head back in-between the pillows and digressed "Remember when we used to go every single Friday night?" "Yup" was all my man could muster as he laid a pair of Superman undies on the coffee table. 

Those weekend nights used to be a ton of fun... but in looking back it's clear to see why I used to do much running then. I easily had an extra 10 pounds circulating around my mid-section that became more prevalent with every weekend that passed! That fat got pretty comfy there for awhile, even though I tried relentlessly to run it out of town... by running. And more running. And maybe a little ellipticaling here and there. But still going out. Every. Weekend. 

Life sure has a way of balancing out, or just tipping the scales in the completely opposite direction! Now, it's rare we head out for a night on the town, and instead opt for the comfy, cozy confines of our new home. (Honestly, I just don't have the energy anymore!)

Turns out though I'm a girl who has fallen in love with her stove, her pots and pans, and all sorts of cool kitchenry gadgets. And it wasn't until this happened, that my love for cooking popped up (I was NEVER into cooking - nev-ah!), that I was finally able to ditch the extra weight I used to carry. It literally melted off without me depriving myself. I was pregnant with baby boy No. 2 and the only thing I changed was that I cooked waaaaaaay more often, and I ate real food. Now I cook like no ones business, and that's where you need to be if you're serious about weight loss. 

Girl, you have GOT to do more home cooking if you're looking to lose a little weight!

But... I do know that we all need that girls night out every once and while, or a little couples therapy where we can go out and forget for a moment that we're supposed to be responsible adults. For those times when we really want to throw caution to the wind, we also don't want to be carrying around last night's pasta dish for weeks on end, attached directly to our mid-sections! Armed with a few tricks, a little mental preparedness, and a lot of determination not to sabotage our best efforts and put us back a dress size, I've got a few helpful tips that I've employed that take the fear out of eating out. Say ciao to grilled chicken and a side salad with no dressing. 

Food Rule Number 1: When ordering a drink at the bar... (total random thought here, came out of nowhere. Didn't even plan on this being a food rule but hell, it's a good thing to know for any boozy friends out there), and they give you that little piece of fruit precariously balancing itself on the rim of your glass, remove that sucker at once making sure it doesn't fall into your drink. Carefully squeeze the citrus out of it and place it on the side. (As an ex-bartender I once carried in my arms about 30 lemons and limes from storage, which was outside the restaurant, inside to the bar. Before I got there I managed to successfully drop every last one onto the gravel drive, scrambled to pick them up, and may or may not have washed them before slicing. I was young!!) But seriously, don't put those literally IN your drink. 

Ok, now on to the real tips:

photo cred: Ali Inay

photo cred: Ali Inay

Real food Rule No. 1: Skipping the bread is completely obvi so I'm not even going there. When you sit down, drink a full glass of water before you put anything else in your mouth. If you're anything like me, you have been looking forward to this outing in what you could only imagine to be the way an inmate is looking at parole. You're so fkn free you can't even stand it. You're basically floating into the restaurant because you're thinking to yourself that right now you would normally be at home herding your kids into the bathtub. HA! Oh no... mommy is out tooooonight! So when you get to the restaurant it's like all bets are off, you're ready to paaaaar-tay! It's at this point I usually order the biggest, baddest, boldest wine I can find and oops, how did that go down so fast?! 

Slow you roll girlfriend, slow your role. Taking that glassful of water is just kinda like pumping the breaks. We're not stopping the fun, we're just harnessing the energy and using it for good, not hangover evil. This will also help you to not dive into any salty, crunchy, fatty whatevers they place before you as you wait to place your order. Drink your water, say hello to those around you... (and keep your phone off the table! That's a bonus tip.)

Real Food Rule No. 2: You don't need a 4 or 5 course meal. Skip ordering an appetizer as an appetizer and instead order one as an entree. The sizes are smaller and the food is usually pretty simple. There could be a tuna tar-tar or a grilled octopus if you're into food from the sea. Chicken skewers, or little meatballs if you're into meat. Maybe there is hummus and roasted veggies you use as dippers. Peruse the apps like the entrees don't exist. Appetizer portions are like regular people portions who aren't trying to feed a family of 10 off one plate. 

Real Food Rule No 3: There is this remote part of the menu that rarely sees the light of day, and it's really only the true purveyors of fine cuisine who know it's there and full of useful things... like vegetables. It's that little teeny-tiny section down in the corner of the menu called "Sides". Now beware! There are some bad things lurking in there that by simply reading them will begin producing excess saliva in your mouth which will then immediately send the signal to your brain that your gut is ready to digest some food so send down the truffle fries, STAT! 

Ignore your body/mind and listen to your fat cells. They don't want to get any bigger so please, order the spinach, or broccoli, or brussels, and ask them to steam them instead of roasting the ever loving goodness out of them. And ignore the fact that a plate of steamed broccoli can run you about $8... just ignore it and order them. 

Ok, so now you've had a glass of water, you've ordered an appetizer and a side of steamed veggies, and you're feeling pretty righteous.

This is where it gets tricky. You may be feeling a little too good here, but I implore you, don't get cocky. Don't start patting yourself on the back just yet. There's more to this meal and you know it, so you better be well prepared because here comes that sly waiter hoping for a sliiiightly bigger tip with his little tiny dessert menu that he'll casually place before you and leave it to your inner demons to hash out if it will be the bread pudding, pumpkin cheesecake, or that chocolatey lava thing! 

Can I interest you in some dessert? Take your time, I'll be back in a few minutes.

This indeed is a tricky moment. You're feeling like you deserve that dessert. Just a bite. You've been doing sooooo well! Well I'm here to tell you that it's not an option. Buck up girl and don't get your panties all in a wad because dessert ain't happening. Your reward is not packing on the pounds and sabotaging your weight loss efforts. So what you need to do here is say, Pardon me, but are there any fresh berries I could nibble on? And without even looking at your friends tell them to shut the f*ck up. They can have their cake and eat it too, but not you. Not this time. This time you're serious, and while you're out to have fun and let loose, you're not here to take home bigger fat cells. 

Going out doesn't mean that you need to be force fed large ass portions and eat 5 course meals. Just be smart, and deal with the fact that you may go home a wee bit hungry but you'll be damed if you're hungover at 5 am with kids jumping on your head and poking at your bigger belly asking if you're pregnant again! (Yup, that happened once.)

As always, I'd love to hear from you and discover what tips you've uncovered that work for you! My community can only grow by sharing the experiences and helping one another out, so please leave a comment, leave a tip, let me know if any of these tips are useful and/or currently being employed by you!!