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Combating Large Portions


Posted by Lara I.

Let's face it, restaraunt portion sizes are ridiculously large. No one needs that big of a meal! But, when it's in front of us, and it tastes so good, and we're in mid-conversation, we eat it. It's there. We eat it. Here are two tips to fight this problem. One, is to ask for a to go box when you order your food, that way you can neatly scoop half your dish away to eat the next day before the meal even begins. Though this is a fantastic idea if your out with your best friend, it might be somewhat disruptive if you are out with most dinner company. The second idea is to ask the server for smaller portions...most restaraunts will happily do this. Same menu item, just less of it...even half size is probably enough (ie. two breasts of chicken plus sides could easily be served in half). The downside of this is that you may still pay the same price, but...you're paying for a full stomach, not an OVER full stomach.
 
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I rarely if ever eat everything on my plate at a restaurant. I just eat what I can and then have them box up the rest at the end. I can't even *stomach* most full portions. So initially, if you are used to eating full portions then you will need some willpower but eventually you will get used to eating less.
In traveling, I've came across a few places, including the chain restaurant Maggiano's Little Italy, that offer half-portions of meals, at a lower price. Also, next time you go to a deli, try ordering a sandwich with "half-meat." You'll get a smaller sandwich than most places give you these days.
It's easy to blame restaurants for the nation's eating dysfunctions, but it is not the government or your waiter's responsibility for where you dine or what you eat. It is a business and just because you are watching what you eat doesn't mean the restaurant should lose money. Instead, Iit is up to you, the savvy diner to navigate through the menu jungle. It's simple really...If you go to the Cheesecake Factory looking for a lo-cal small portion, you made a big mistake. However, you can ask any waiter if they carry Smart Balance to sub for butter. You can ask if the establishment uses trans fats in their cooking. You can even asked to have something steamed or poached instead of sauteed or fried. As stated earleir, many restaurants including the Cheesecake Factory do offer half portions and respond well to other dietery restrictions. Food laws and discounts for dieters do not work when all you need is a doggy bag and some common sense.
I agree with Chef Jeff R. that it is our responsibility as to what we choose to put inside our mouth. But, yes, I really like what Lara I. said - when eating lesser portions, you may feel that you are over-paying, but if there is a considerable health benefit, then paying the same for lesser portions is definitely worth it. Till some back, I used to get a doggy bag. However, dining out will usually involve more calories than eating at home. So if I get the remaining food back home to eat the next day, essentially I am dining out two days in a row. Now, what I do is- eat what I need to, and then just forget about the rest. I rather carry back the memory of a good meal than the meal itself in a doggy bag.
Okay, many of these chains really shovel the food on: Maggiano's, Cheesecake Factory, etc. So, first of all, share with a friend! If it's a sandwich, make sure you pack up one half. Eat until you are comfortably full, not clean your plate style. Think about what you want for lunch the next day -- and save that part! I never feel that the half portions are a good buy. I'd rather take home the doggie bag. The French have a way of using leftovers, such as day old bread or little bits of meat for pain perdu or hors d'oervres.
I agree with a lot of the other people here--it's a good idea to box up what you don't feel like eating and either eat it yourself the next day, give it to a homeless person, etc. Either that or sometimes it's nice to go out with a larger group of people and share dishes. I also prefer places that offer small plates or half-portions. And of course, there are times when larger portions are OK--indulging in a nice, big meal is great every once in a while!
There are lots of places that will give you a half portion or let you split with a friend but they don't put it on the menu. Always ask. The worst they can do is say no.
I like to share. Just the other day some girlfriends and I went out to lunch. I really wanted the potato nachos (yes, sour cream, cheddar, bacon, etc!) but I was too embarrassed to say so! Plus I figured as an appetizer meant to be shared, it would be huge. I finally spoke up and my friend wanted the same thing so we shared it. It was more than enough for both of us!

Hi fellow posters - I have recently started the appetizer diet which is basically a high fiber cookie that you eat 30 min before breakfast and 30 min before dinner. What it does is it fills you up so you dont even need to think about cutting your portion sizes, your body does it for you. I used to be able to eat a HUGE bowl of pasta plus the bread bowl, now I eat the cookie and then 30 min later I have maybe one cup or one 1/2 cups of whole wheat pasta. I've lost 13 lbs to date, and its really healthy too. I'm really happy....I even became an affiliate so that I could stop paying full price for the cookies. Let me know what you think when you look at the nutritional contents. http://mrsscotti.vitamark.com/shopping/display.asp?CODE=300

We rarely eat out at all. So, this has never been an issue for me. When you eat out 3 times a year (Birthdays and anniversary), I think it's OK to eat a little too much.

Those are really good tips. I was just thinking of this same subject yesterday after I left a restaurant with most of my meal in a to go box because I was so full.

I know I am not suppose to eat to get full, although the flavor of the food is what keeps me eating more. This is why we are really not suppose to add too much seasoning to our food. We are suppose to 'EAT TO LIVE, NOT LIVE TO EAT'. I believe if we did not add so much seasoning to our foods, then we would 'EAT TO LIVE'.

Great advice and right on time! Thank You!

Monique

www.easyvegetarian.blogspot.com

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