Eating out

No matter where I go out for a “nice” dinner, I tend to end up eating about a 1,000 calories. You’re probably thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of calories.’ But you’d be surprised.

When eating out, the question is never, are you really going to sit down and eat 1,000 calories at one setting, because — again — if you’re going out for a nice meal, the answer is always yes.

So a better question to ask yourself is, how are you going to spend those 1,000 calories?

Your three potential culprits can be broken down into three groups: food (real food, that is, such as appetizers and entrees), dessert (which one could not so wrongly class as poison) or alcohol (which, no doubt about it, is poison, at least as far as weight release is concerned).

Ironically, I’ll almost always go for the poison — either in terms of alcohol or dessert. Probably because I tend not to have these things at home.

Some people will go for the meal itself and leave off the alcohol or dessert. I wish I was more like them, but I obviously don’t wish it enough to change my behavior!

The key is figuring out which part of the meal is least important to you (or is least congruent with the occasion, place or the people) and let it go. In other words, splurge on the parts of the meal that matter to you most and cut back in the places where it doesn’t.

“But what if it’s all important?” you ask.

Then prioritize, but try to keep it within 1,000 calories.

Yesterday, for example, I went out for a long leisurely lunch with friends. I hadn’t seen them for a while. In fact, the woman was someone with whom I’ve been friends for 9 years, who recently got married. However, because we live in different states and I was unable to attend her wedding, this was the first time that I’d met her husband. In other words, it was a fairly big deal.

MJ and I were hosting, so we took them to a fabulous French Country Restaurant about an hour south of our house. They like wine, so I knew that there would be alcohol involved, probably more rather than less. And the restaurant itself is known for it’s chocolate, so I knew that dessert was all but inevitable.

We started with a bottle of Jelu Malbec, an Argentinan red, and french bread. Delicious. (280 calories, more or less)

Appetizer: Beet Salad with Chevre (150 calories, more or less)

So far so good — as I’d had a light breakfast and burned 475 calories on the NordicTrac, while my friend and her husband had gone for a run.

Just to be clear, everything on the menu looked/sounded amazing — you know you’re in trouble when they’ve managed to even make the calf liver sound good! Sidestepping the scallops, the roasted chicken, the skirt steak, the Irish stew, the homemade pork/veal sausage, the trout, and the salmon, I ordered the Chef’s Selection of Local Vegetables. I even lied when the waitress asked if I liked risotto and just told her to hit me with some extra veggies!

The plate, when it arrived, was gorgeous. In fact, in some ways, it was the most aesthetically beautiful plate on the table. Fresh peas, broccoli rabe, fingerling potatoes, lightly steamed bok choy, asparagus, and a wedge of deep fried tofu topped with a light citrus/ginger/honey sauce. Yum! (200 calories; again, I’m guessing, but it all tasted very clean and the tofu was quite small).

Dessert: A single chocolate madeline (70 calories), another glass of wine (120) and bites others’ desserts: 100 (for a total of 290 calories)

Then there were the chocolate samples in the shop next door: 100 calories, easy.

Grand total: 1020. And that’s with the vegetable plate, the salad appetizer, and the smallest, least fattening dessert available.

Granted, I could have skipped the second glass of wine and the chocolate samples, but it wouldn’t have fit the mood — of the occasion, of the day, of the place, nor certainly of the people. It was a great meal. It was a great day.

I’m not saying that you should never eat out. But I am saying that you shouldn’t feel compelled to go all out on every part of the meal just because it’s there. Make choices. And if you really want the quarter chicken, roasted and two cups of mashed potatoes — and you’re not running a half marathon the next day, as I wasn’t but my friend was — then maybe you should reconsider the wine.

4 comments so far

  1. […] Posted June 10, 2009 Filed under: Uncategorized | After my weekend of debauchery, it’s been difficult to get back on the wagon. I’m pretty sure it’s the after […]

  2. […] 2,000 calories, just to make sure my metabolism doesn’t stall. The last time it happened was June 6th. I think today may be another one of those […]

  3. Paramjit Sidhu on

    Hi there. This is a great article. Alcohol is always a culprit when eating out. It does pile on lots of unnecessary calories. Alcohol halts fat burning and increases appetite. The worst combination.

    Also do take note that you made a reference to an article on my website at

    Kindly change that link to

    We are migrating from and your link will become broken and this usually gets penalized by google. I thought I would let you know. Keep up the good work

    • KJ on

      Thanks for letting me know! Good luck with the “move”!

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