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Help w/ eating healthy when eating out (Emily, anyone?)

dianetavegia's picture
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

I go to lunch with friends every Tuesday and to dinner once a month with another set of friends. Dinner is no problem because we choose high end restaurants with varied menus and several of those gals are healthy eaters, however...

My lunchtime gal pals (8-10) are about 50% working women. We have to choose places close by. Also, all but 2 or 3 of us grew up in this tiny town and the majority tends to want to go to the mom and pop type eateries 'where Billie's daughter is a waitress'. The mom and pop places also cater to those who have limited time to order, eat and get back to work.

Two weeks ago we went to 'The Trading Post'. I was told I'd love it because 'it's so healthy! Loads of veggies!' The veggies were fried green tomatoes dripping with oil, fried okra, corn, coleslaw in real mayonnaise, black eyed peas and butter beans. The only meat not fried was a baked chicken breast. I chose the okra and butter beans. Well, the butter beans arrived with a huge piece of fat back (part of the bacon used in southern cooking....) and the oil was visible!

Last week was 'The Tin Roof'. I checked their online menu and couldn't find one thing I could eat other than a 'house salad' which was pretty much iceberg lettuce with shaved carrots for $3.95. I had a horrible sinus headache so I begged off for the week.

Next week is 'Los' Cowboys' Mexican Restaurant. I'm guessing I might be able to get something chicken without the flour shells.

I hate to go and only get tea! My friends know I'm eating healthy and I don't want to say too much because I don't want to offend those who are large women. 'Oh, it won't kill you to eat it once in a while'. 'Everybody has to die from something so it might as well be fried pork chops (or four layer chocolate cake)!'

I had some ladies ask me at our Bible Study why I don't eat the breakfast they serve. 'Are you diabetic?' Nooooo.... you have six different style pastries and not one healthy item offered. My week to help with breakfast is Feb. 9th and I'll take cheese grits and scrambled eggs (brown eggs/ free range) plus fresh fruit.

Hubby and I eat out often and O'Charley's knows don't seat us in the bar and expect a creative order from me. :o) O'Charley's is our only chain restaurant in 18 miles.

How do you eat out and still eat healthy? Have you ever taken food into a restaurant and just ordered side items or drinks? I really enjoy laughing with my friends and don't want to NOT go!


nudgie's picture
Posts: 1482
Joined: Sep 2006

person is different in their opinion of eating healthy and what an individual considers healthy.

I try to eat right (healthy) to maintain weight and health and here is what I do as examples:

I am a working mom and I try to pack my lunch as much as possible:

a) Fiber One yogurt or other yogurt
b) Progresso high fiber or light soups
c) Kashi bars (snacks)
d) Fruit
e) Cearel w/o milk

When I eat out, I try to go for the following:

a) Veggie or turkey burgers
b) Salad bar
c) Baked or grilled chicken with a veggie
d) Differnt types of salads; ceasar, chicken, southern style, mexican (ck not beef), etc
e) Ask the waiter what I can substitute or add to a particular meal
f) Soups
g) Look at the different sandwhiches (turkey, chicken, tuna)

Since I work out alot I also drink all natural whey protein shakes after each workout. These are pretty good and simple to make.

I do indulge once in awhile with a dessert, pizza, etc., but I can't remember the last time I (we) ate at a fast food restaurant like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's etc.

I hope this helps

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

then simply ask the "Mom and Pop Diners" if they will stock your choice of meat or veggie dish and let them know when you will be there on certain days and I am sure they will take care of your wishes....Mom and Pop Diners survive on return visits and family and friends. They will have no problem accommodating your pallet......a simple single healthy serving should be no task for them...simply ask for the "special" that they know you pre-determined....and all will be well..........:)

geotina's picture
Posts: 2123
Joined: Oct 2009

Someone gave George a book called "Eat this and not that". It compares food in restaurants. For an example, an Arby's Melt has 298 calories and 12 grams of fat. The Arby's Market Fresh Roast Turkey and Swiss, which you think is healthier, is not, it has 710 calories and 30 grams of fat. On to Boston Market, Beef Brisket, Green Beans and Dill Potatoes is 480 calories and 27 grams of fat while the Chicken Salad Sandwich, which you think might be healthier, is actually 800 calories and 41 grams of fat. You think a pumpkin Muffin from Dunkin would not be to bad, wrong again, it has 650 calories and 29 grams of fat. An apply crumb donut is 460 calories while a chocolate frosted donut is 230 calories. Anyway, I just started reading this book and every page has pictures. The worst seems to be California Pizza Kitchen - Thai Crunch Salad - sounds healthy - not - it as 2,115 calories, more calories than 4 Big Macs. Good Luck - Tina

dianetavegia's picture
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

I did find a baked sweet potato at one diner. I forgot about that! That was very good. It came with a bowl of brown sugar, cinnamon and margarine creamed together. I didn't eat that, but did add real butter.

Salad bars would be perfect. I could eat very well with a salad bar option.

Calorie/fat charts I am not watching calories because most healthy foods are low in calories. :o)

Here's the 'diet' I follow for preventing recurrence of colon cancer.
Mediterranean Diet Link

Buzzard, The Tin Roof said they have 'Health Nut bread' and for an extra charge I could get a sandwich made on that. They also have grilled chicken every day. They have a good salad selection. Thanks for encouraging me to call!

One friend who goes with us during the summer takes her own bread. She's lost 90 lbs following 'Thrive' and still wants to lose 200 lbs. She buys these fajita type whole wheat, no fat breads and makes a sandwich out of just about anything. She has these bags of sour cream and onion puffs that look like fat cheerios. She does eat pork, beef and veggies seasoned with fats. Tina orders a regular meal and then tears it apart, puts it together another way.

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Diane,

This is an issue I have dealt with since I was 20 year old and diagnosed with food allergies and hypoglycemia. Eating out is a challenge but can be done with planning.

I DO call ahead and talk to the chef about hidden sugars and dairy. If need be we concoct something just for me.

I DO tell the wait staff that I have food allergies right away and then we figure out what we can put together.

I DO bring my own food to the restaurant and have never had a problem.

I DO eat ahead or juice before I go in case all I will be ordering is a salad.

If why you're going out is for the fellowship then it doesn't matter that you bring your own salad or healthy sandwich or leftover entree. I do it all the time-- every month for our book club potluck.

It's not your job to make your friends feel ok about the unhealthy food they're eating and it's not their job to make you feel bad for eating healthful. (forgive me if that sounds judgmental-whatever). Are they dealing with a life-threatening illness? Perhaps not yet.......

There's NO reason why you can't go and laugh with your friends and enjoy their company and compromise your health. It's not an either or--just plan ahead and take care of yourself.

And then if you have a week where you've decided to indulge, then maybe you can guilt-free.

It drives me nuts when people tell me, "it just has a tiny bit of sugar (or ______-fill in the blank), that won't hurt you." Well, hello, it does. Until they walk a minute in my shoes many just don't get it. But that's ok cuz I love them anyway and continue to go to restaurants and munch on my own stuff.

Hope this helps.

peace, emily

dianetavegia's picture
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

That's exactly what I was hoping to hear. I really enjoy (LOVE) people and enjoy being with many different sorts of people. Laughter invigorates me.

I'm going to call Los' Cowboy's and see what's on the menu that I might be able to eat and just plan to take something with me, in case. A huge green salad with loads of toppings, grilled chicken or tuna, olive oil and red wine vinegar would easily fit in a big purse. Shucks, our town is so small, you can get anywhere in less than 10 minutes, even with traffic. Heck, I'm going to drive over tomorrow and pick up a menu to bring home and study. :o)

It REALLY bugs me when someone tells me 'we've all got to die of something' or 'it won't kill you'.... 'Just once'.... 'Just a small serving'.... 'My grandmother ate.... and lived to be 4,017...'

Tonight's supper is turkey meat loaf (with cooked oatmeal as an additive), boiled okra (LOVE it slimy), Field Peas and snap beans and brown rice. My 15 year old requested those particular veggies and the rice tonight. I make enough rice for him to have as a midnight snack. That boy LOVES brown rice!

Posts: 75
Joined: May 2008

I think you got it all right Diane....I would do the same thing, call ahead, eat before, or bring my own.

I am bugged by people like that too. They don't get it at all. My homeschool co-op has lunch every week. And these are moms that believe they are doing the best for their kids by homeschooling...to each their own...but that is what they believe. But, guess what is almost always on the lunch menu? You guessed...hot dogs, corn dogs, chips...nastiness.

My kids are tired of bringing their lunch...but silently i think....Maybe someone will clue in to what poison they are feeding their kids by my rebellion.

Good luck to you.

Posts: 965
Joined: Nov 2008

I love to meet friends at diners (they are all over NJ). I always order egg white (or EggBeaters) omelet cooked without butter. I then add broccoli, tomatoes and asparagus. It's a very filling meal for me.

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Most of the time I do order sides....no entre.

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Good question Diane,

I too take my own food especially salad dressing and have never had a problem. I will also ask what diabetics eat and you'll be surprised at the healthier ways they have to do things that just aren't on the menu.

To be honest, back when I first changed my diet I rarely ate out because #1 it was too tempting #2 it was ridiculous to pay the outrageous price for say steamed brocolli since they would charge me the same amount they charged everyone that got the really fattening and unhealty sauce and #3 I decided I would make going out a very special treat and got picky about it.

Lisa P.

dianetavegia's picture
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

Oh how I agree! I was looking at some online menus and wondered why I'd be charged the same for a steamed veggie or meat without all the fried potatoes and saw mill gravy. I'm just so happy there's an option. I am such a social butterfly and LOVE groups of people. I refuse to let cancer take that from me.

Tonight we're supposed to go to a cook out / bonfire. I called the hostess and asked if I could bring some foods to share. She first insisted it wasn't necessary but she's eaten out with me and had hosted a 'Tacky' Christmas brunch to which I'd taken some healthy dishes to share. I think she had an 'oh' moment. So, if the rain holds off.... fun tonight!

Sunday night is our '5th Sunday Potluck Social'. Need to plan something for that AND I need to fix me a plate of my healthy foods so there's some left for me to eat. :o)

Thanks so much!

dianetavegia's picture
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

Hey Lisa42, I saw your remark about eating out 3 times a week and that being a concern.

Well.... since I've posted this thread, I've eaten out at O'Charley's 3 times, Los' Cowboys and Chic Fil A.

We were rushed on Monday, getting ins. and car tags on Jim's used car and hubby couldn't wait to get home for lunch. We figured Chic Fil A was the lesser of all evils. I was shocked to see a whole selection of healthy foods at a good price! I got a chicken sandwich on a multi grain bread for $3.49.

O'Charley's ... I chatted with the manager who had the 'cook' talk with me. They allowed me to substitute steamed broccoli, asparagus and sweet potato. One night I had only veggies and they put it on the bill as Jim having 'sides' so I got charged 69 CENTS for each item! I wanted soup and a baked potato for lunch the other day and they came out and told me what was in each soup so I could choose the one with no beef stock or added fats.

Los' Cowboys is a local Mexican restaurant. I checked out the menu online and then when I went in, told the owner/ waiter that I was 'eating healthy' and could he help me choose. We came up with a 'chicken nacho' type meal but instead of the shells, they made me a platter of lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole, topped with shredded chicken. $5.75.

The 3rd meal at O'Charley's was after church on Sunday. They offer a 'brunch'. I got a mushroom, tomato and spinach omelet that was SOOOOOOO good! It comes with breakfast potatoes but they let me sub a baked potato so as not to have the 'fats' from frying. They would have roasted them for me if I'd wanted to wait. :o)

Emily and Lisa gave me the confidence to ask and I have been VERY pleased with the helpfulness and lovely attitude I've seen when asking for help. Everyone has been so eager to please!


Posts: 489
Joined: Dec 2009

Such good stuff everyone! I have just suffered a relapse from an anal cancer in 08 that has now mets to my liver. I have been reading several books on changing ones diet. I am Italian and cook 5 nights a week...homemade stuff....but going out is a challenge now with this new way of eating. Salads can get a bit tiring! Thank you all so much for sharing your ideas!!!
Cheers to our health!!!

idlehunters's picture
Posts: 1792
Joined: Apr 2009

I have been searching for "something" other than juicing....because I just don't know if I can commit to that...BUT... I am so seriously wanting to change my entire food consumption to make everything I put in my mouth an informed decision. I have closely read posts from all of you that have made yourselves aware of your food choices. I am so impressed with you all that have stuck to your decisions. As Emily ALWAYS says. "what have you got to lose?" Nothing!!...and everything to gain... I am so pumped about this. I even think that after my initial diet change I may even try juicing after the ole taste buds have made the change over. I honestly feel that food is what got me in this condition and "new" food choices will help to get me..... clean??? LOL.... thanks to you all for your ideas and input. YOU GUYS ROCK!!!!


WinneyPooh's picture
Posts: 318
Joined: Jul 2009

when i go out to eat i eat where i know they will give me what i want, my husband is a kidney patient so we often oder of the menue, we tip good and the wait staff know so we get what we want,
It helps to call ahead for new places and ask how they feel about changes explain medical condition and ask what wait staffer is best at accomdating, then when you get there special request that servr, they will be flattered for your request and will have already been given the thumbs up on your needs, tip well, they will remember and when you leave if satisfied ask if thisis your servres regular schedual so you know when to come back.

Sounds like stalking, ha ha

This works for us,
It is a little extra work but it is a way to eat out with the gang and eat right.

Live, Laugh, Play

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