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Friday, October 22, 2010

Tip: Almost Every Menu Has Good Choices

Yesterday after bowling my sister and I went out to lunch. Both of us immediately scanned the salad portion of the menu and found a salad made with avocado slices, shrimp, and Romaine (a good form of lettuce with fiber, food value, and taste, unlike the popular iceberg lettuce). It also promised pico de gallo, and feta cheese, all with an olive-oil-based dressing. Great!

My sister asked our server, Sarah, if it was okay to split a salad, explaining that she and I are both on diets, whether I admit it or not.

I laughed, because as my sister knows, I refuse to call my food plan a diet, because the D word sounds repulsive. It is, after all, a four-letter word. Diets require restrictions, restraints, limitations, and hunger, and most call for unusual or bland foods. Diets are difficult to maintain, and they are short-lived, because of that fact. My food plan is not a diet, because it doesn’t have immutable rules; it’s just a healthy way to eat, and it’s a plan for life. It calls for real food, with unlimited choices, and no matter where I am, I can eat healthy, good food. I get frustrated when people say, “Oh, you’re on a diet; does that mean we can’t go out to eat together?” Of course not! A food plan isn’t a diet, and besides, we have to eat something, every day, to stay alive. I eat real food; restaurants serve real food. It’s up to me to make healthy choices.

My sister and I made our healthy choice. We told the server that we would split the salad, but put the pico de gallo, feta, and dressing on the side. The server said the restaurant also had a balsamic vinaigrette dressing we might like, and she offered to bring both dressings, on the side, of course.

I wanted the pico de gallo on the side because it contains raw onions, which sometimes give me a bad aftertaste that continues in my mouth for hours. We ordered the other items on the side, though, so we had complete control over them. I don’t care for feta cheese, for instance, but my sister loves it, so she could have all she wanted on her half of the salad, while my half remained cheese free. Often when a restaurant applies salad dressing it adds too much; besides, with two dressings, we could choose the dressing we preferred and apply it in the quantity we wanted.

When the salads arrived (the restaurant split it and put it on separate plates for us. How nice!), I had one more shrimp than my sister, which we agreed worked out fine, since she was eating the cheese, both of us mindful that both shrimp and cheese should be eaten in limited quantities. I picked out some of the tomatoes from among the onions in the pico de gallo (which, by the way, means rooster’s beak in Spanish. What’s up with that?) and added them to my salad. It turned out my sister and I both liked the olive oil dressing best, and olive oil is one of the good oils included in cholesterol-lowering Mediterranean diets. Half a salad turned out to be exactly the right amount of food for each of us for lunch. Isn’t eating is restaurants a treat?

Although I give many tips in my blog and will give many more as I go along, there's obviously no trick to my food plan; it’s just a healthy way to eat, and regardless of where I eat, I can almost always find healthy choices. As a conscientious eater, my only job is to make the right choices, every time I eat. See? It’s not a diet at all, and yet I’m losing weight every week and having a great time doing it.

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