How Tiny Efforts Create Big Wins When Eating Healthy on the Road.
Two weeks ago I while skiing at Steamboat Springs I realized how hard it is to stay healthy while eating out, even when participating in athletics.
My husband and I escaped for a long weekend to ski, relax and take in some wonderful film festivals at the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs.
It was like skiing in a Christmas card- fresh snow, flocked trees and a clear blue sky. We were loving life and generally working up a sweat skiing amongst the beautiful trees. So we headed off to the mid-mountain lodge to see what was on the menu for lunch.
Fresh pasta, hand crafted sandwiches, and of course a grill with burgers and fries. Steve couldn’t resist a bowl of pasta Alfredo while I selected the wild Alaskan salmon sandwich on a gluten free bun with side of kale salad—it was Colorado after all!
I began eating. And eating. And eating. About halfway through the meal
I realize I couldn’t finish the sandwich.
I feel so guilty wasting all this food.
Steve reassured me, “Don’t worry this is Colorado- the land of zero waste they’ll just compost it.”
I realized I was suffering from portion distortion. Portion sizes at restaurants are enormous, 2-3 times what they should be. Everything has been super-sized.
Even in Colorado, land of the über fit and in-your-face health conscious self-appointed experts.
Where I live all the restaurants are judged by the size of their portions. People say ‘It’s a great restaurant…the food tastes good and the portions are enormous!’
Why don’t they ever say… .’the food is so tasty and the portions are right-sized’?
I am tired of having to figure out not only what do I want to eat but also how to manage the portions. Why can’t the restaurant give me the right size portions in the first place?
I’m still going to pay my bill. I’m going to tell others how delicious the food is.
Why over feed me so that I feel uncomfortable? Is that hospitality? Eat.. eat..eat until you are uncomfortable and well on your way to bad health?
OK so I know that I am the only one responsible for what goes on the fork and then into my mouth. But can’t you help me out a bit here?
Why put so much tempting food in front of me and then ask me to use so much energy resisting it. Why not just right-size it in the first place?
You eat twice as many calories if you eat out than if you eat at home.
But what if your job requires travel or business over meals? Are you doomed to becoming overweight and unhealthy? How can you eat healthy while traveling for business?
What can the traveler do?
Realize the days of the clean plate club are over. You no longer have to clean your plate at every meal. Instead, start using the divided plate concept at restaurants. Basically you assemble your meal from basic building blocks to fit on a plate divided in quarters.
Developed by USDA. It’s so easy to understand even kids can do this. Just ask them, it’s part of the health curriculum at many schools. Click here
The plate is an 8” plate, not the grand 12’-14’’ plate often found in restaurants and fancy dish sets. Use a luncheon plate. You can get plastic ones with cartoons on them at local stores. But even better you can carry this around in your head, without the actual plate.
How to build your divided plate:
Start with the protein. Pick a lean protein, not slathered in sauce. It should be 2-3 ounces. Even if you don’t know how big 2-3 ounces is it’s easy to remember since it’s about the size of a computer mouse. Your whole grain side dish or bread should be the same size (this may be only half a large bun or half of a bagel)
Then you add fruits and veggies to the second and third quarters.
Come on, I know that half of you aren’t eating any fruit, and fully one quarter of you aren’t eating any veggies today. Give it up. It’s time to change. And this plate technique can help you.
Make sure you add vegetables and fruit to be the same size as your meat and grains. You are supposed to eat as many fruits and veggies as meat and grains combined.
There you have it a plate fit for a king. A fit king.
When ordering at a restaurant it can be difficult to have everything arrive all on one neat little divided plate. I doubt they stock those cute cartoon plates anyway.
BUT you can order a salad for your first course, or vegetable appetizer. You many need to hunt through the choices since some foods are a bit awkward to eat with business associates. Look over the menu, find something. It’s a good idea to have your server put the sauce or dressing on the side.
Then when your dinner arrives, trim your meat to the appropriate size. And DON’T pick at the remainder. Just eat your right-sized portion and leave the rest.
Remember, the clean plate club has been disbanded!
Steve and I quickly realized that all the restaurants in Steamboat Springs served up enormous portions of food. We had to find a solution. And so, we divided and conquered.
Instead of dividing our plates we divided our order to conquer the overwhelming portion sizes. I began to order one main dish and then split it between the two of us. This works well when traveling with a companion. Alternatively, you can split the meal when it arrives and put half in a to-go box. Now your meal is right-sized and the cooking for tomorrow is done too!
I was able to enjoy the meal without that uncomfortable overstuffed feeling. I maintained my weight throughout the week. Splitting an entrée might be a bit awkward with a client. But it worked for me when traveling for leisure.
How do you handle the large portion sizes offered at restaurants?
Share your ideas in the comments below.