The Perils of Eating Out

Eating Out Tips

January 15, 2014   40 Comments

How did we get in a situation where going to a restaurant is dangerous? No, I’m not talking about getting mugged on your way back to the car.

I’m talking about those bad boys in the photo. The fries in the photo are in black and white because I have been getting complaints about the food being too tempting on the site.

Food is also tempting when you can order it and a nice person shows up and serves it to you. If you are trying to eat healthy, you probably have a restaurant strategy. Mine began years ago with the elimination of fries from my dinner when I go out.

Funny story – last week I went out to dinner with my family and ordered a burger with a side salad (instead of fries) and the dressing on the side. I do this EVERY time I order a burger. The server brought me a burger with fries.

AAAAH! What do I do? Throw a tantrum and toss them on the floor? Run screaming from the restaurant? My children were watching me so I put the fries on my husband’s plate and simply asked for my salad.

This isn’t the first time I got fries when I asked for salad.

What else do I avoid? The bread basket, the chip basket, the free popcorn, or any other “free” addition to my meal. It is not really FREE. These foods tend to be high in sodium and fat – before you know it you have added 500 calories to a meal and you didn’t even mean to eat THREE of those warm dinner rolls.

I will admit to having eating three dinner rolls when I was hungry and the food was taking a long time. I believe it was like eating 6 slices of bread in one sitting.

Yes, eating out can be perilous.

The other side is that eating out is supposed to be pleasurable and it is easier than cooking. No shopping, prep, cleaning… I LOVE eating out - but I don’t do it very often because it is so hard to stay healthy and my bank account doesn’t like it very much.

How do you deal with eating out? What scary things have you encountered?


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First 20 Comments: [ see all 40 ]

Same here. Salad instead of fries. Soda water instead of a Coke. (I found that I crave the fizz on my throat, not the sweetness of Coke). If they don't have Soda water, I begrudgingly order Coke Zero with its crazy sugar replacement chemicals. lol.

on January 15, 2014

I have found that eating out has lost it's appeal. Once you have tasted enjoying the "good" stuff, brocolli not swimming in butter,life without bread, French fries, and chicken without batter, restaurant food just doesn't cut it!! NOT THAT I DON'T MAKE MISTAKES, I DO. But home prepared food is so much better!!!

on January 15, 2014

I agree with all the above comments. Eating out with friends and not having to focus on entertaining at home is very nice, however, if it is good food I want, home is the best!

on January 15, 2014

Seems almost every social gathering for me involves going out to eat. Last night, my gang met at a new (Chain) restaurant. The portions were HUGE, and honestly, I was so unimpressed that I didn't even take the leftovers (half of the meal) home.
My strategy: ask for a take-home container at the BEGINNING of the meal - put half of your meal in the box for lunch the next day, and enjoy your portion-controlled meal.

on January 15, 2014

The sad thing is I rarely eat out for all the reasons you've mentioned saving the few occasions to REALLY special reasons. For me it's just a fact of life and in reality something I don't actually miss. I cook from whole ingredients and know exactly what I'm eating, where it came from and who touched it.

on January 15, 2014

I love the black and white photos for stuff that is "really not food."

on January 15, 2014

I normally try to avoid chain restaurants, but there are several close to my office and we have regular business lunches. I usually am able to find out ahead of time where we're going, and the (only?) good thing about chain restaurants is that most of them post nutritional information online. This allows me to make an educated choice before I even get to the restaurant. The absolute WORST thing, in my opinion, is that even the "healthy" choices are total sodium bombs. Yesterday I had a grilled chicken breast, grilled asparagus and roasted potato medley at Max & Erma's. It was actually really good. However, at almost 1000 mg of sodium, it was the LOWEST SODIUM ITEM I COULD FIND on the menu. Ridiculous. No one needs that much salt. Restaurants need to get creative and figure out how to make the food taste good without killing us!

on January 15, 2014

well timed comment. I do not normally eat out but this evening I am invited to a book lovers meeting and everyone chips in and brings something nice to eat and I will have to cosider and reconisder what to choose from the "spread"... Myself I am bringing an egg salad, the Jewish kind with frills.

on January 15, 2014

You behaved politely and set a good example for you kids to learn how to respond to disappointment. GREAT JOB!! Too many adults are behaving like spoilt children. Thanks for sharing that too :)

on January 15, 2014

Fess up, Snack Girl. Did you "try" one of those accidental french fries on your plate?!

on January 15, 2014

I always drink water, and ask for my salad to be served first, dressing on the side. If I'm ordering an entree, I always get a small steak with a side of veggies, no starch. I WILL eat a roll though.

on January 15, 2014

I don't eat out a lot, but I never worry about it when I do. Almost every restaurant has a grilled chicken breast, baked or broiled fish, or a dinner salad on the menu. If I can, I order a baked potato as ask for salsa (or bring my own) for it. I also will bring my own fat free salad dressing if I'm having salad.

on January 15, 2014

I don't enjoy eating out because paying for a salad,when i really want the mushroom blue cheese burger and baked potatoes with butter abd sour cream and bacon bits, seems a waste of money. I guess I must have had a great salad in the past but it just didn't leave a lasting impression. I am good for the whole basket of bread with butter unless my wife intervenes.

on January 15, 2014

While I agree that restaurants add too much fat and salt to their food, most of what you are describing is the kind of food at chain restaurants. I find much better food at local restaurants, some of which specialize in local and seasonal ingredients and some of which are ethnic food. That way if I am going to exceed my normal caloric amounts (which I plan for in the rest of my eating that day), I am at least getting food that is pleasurable to eat and different than I can make at home.

on January 15, 2014

your poor husband! getting used as the garbage dump for 'fries. I would simply point out the
order was NOT what was ordered and ask for the
correct side. IN. A. PLEASANT. SWEET. VOICE. which to any adult would sound like a 'you moron, didn't you write down the order' vs. an amazing MOM who doesn't have to eat (or shove on someone else's plate) something she didn't WANT!

on January 15, 2014

When eating out I ask them to always only bring 1/2 the meal to me to eat and the remaining in a take home bag. I do eat 1 roll but I eat it slow so it last. Any free desserts also get put in a take home bag. The GREAT part about my take home bag is my 16 yr old son. I never EVER to get to eat anything I take home. LOL

on January 15, 2014

If you live in/near a college town or an area that embraces local, organics, etc., you can usually find a vegetarian or vegan restaurant; they're cropping up all over it seems. I find nutritious and very exciting new food combinations; which is one aspect I look for in dining out. Personally I don't eat out alot because like a alot of others here I prefer eating my own cooking but if I needed a break I'd choose some of Ct's vegan places and try to snag some new meal ideas. [Some I've tried - http://sixmain.com/,
http://www.bloodroot.com/, http://www.g-zen.com].

on January 15, 2014

I have found lately, that eating out at most of the places available in my neighborhood is disappointing. I often spend my meal wondering, "why didn't they...." and "I can cook this better." I suppose I've been cooking 17 years now and I just don't understand it when they ruin ingredients that are simple to make (without loading them down with salt or grease or overcooking). That being said....the chip basket and the bread basket are my downfall eating out. Lately, I try to avoid restaurants that have them because I find it very difficult to not eat more than I should.

on January 15, 2014

Being a vegetarian, eating out continues to be a struggle. Restaurants don't realize that my food cannot be cooked with meat. I get sick if my food touches meat. I eat healthy and tend to stick with salads. I avoid certain restaurants because I'm limited in choices. I can almost always find something healthy and if it's wrong, I send it back.

My probably is not with healthy eating (though bread baskets are my downfall! I avoid those restaurants). It's people not knowing, understanding, or caring that I can't have meat. Vegetarianism started as a choice, but now I can't physically have it or have my food cooked with it.

on January 15, 2014

The best solution I have found is to eat at home as much as possible, and when my family does eat out we avoid chain restaurants like the plague. We instead choose local, little ethnic spots to eat where there are no freebies (bread, chips, rolls)provided. You only get what you actually buy. It is always a treat and I don't worry about the calories too much.

on January 15, 2014

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