Mindful Restaurant Eating

Lately I’ve been eating out a lot more frequently than usual. Maybe it’s because I’ve cleaned all the snack foods out of my pantry. It’s left mostly bare- save canned black beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, bread, cereal, and uncooked grains. No treats in sight, and I crave treats a lot. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t have any snacks around the house to munch on, but sometimes the cravings hit hard! I know a situation is dire when I’m ready to mindlessly munch on toast or cereal since there’s nothing around for me to really enjoy. In these situations, I’ve decided it’s best to go out and have a reasonable and delicious meal than to binge on something as unsatisfying and nutrient poor as a bowl of Sugar Puffs. God made food to be enjoyed, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for enjoying good food! Ultimately, people who eat out often have a harder time losing weight than those who usually prepare their meals at home. It’s true, but a life without going out to eat seems sad. And a protein shake with fruit or scrambled eggs at home won’t always make the cut.  So before you grab your keys and head out the door, consider these ways to stay in the moment and be a mindful eater at the restaurant! I hope that the following ideas will help you make the most of your dining experience without blowing your healthy eating plan.

Think twice before ordering

People can fall into a rut of eating the same dishes at the same restaurant, or they may say yes without thinking if a waitress suggests an appetizer. Mindful eating involves breaking those autopilot habits that we have around eating. *Bonus* Stick with an appetizer, a drink other than water, OR dessert instead of getting all the extras.
 
Make each calorie count

Think about what you really love to eat, and save your calorie budget to spend on those foods. Does that cheese on the burger really make it for you? If not, that’s about a hundred calories. *Bonus* Enjoy what you’re having, but eat less. Consider splitting a dish with a friend, or ordering a side of fruit instead of potato chips if you wouldn’t really enjoy them anyway.
 
On the side, please

Gravy, salad dressing, butter — if you can ask for something on the side, do it. Then you have control of how much you really need or want on there. *Bonus* Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want- if you’re concerned that your willpower may fail when the waitress busts out the bread basket or chips and dip, it’s ok to ask her not to bring them out.
 
Think before you eat

Before you dig in, take a moment to ask yourself how hungry you are on a scale of 1 to 10, and how that hunger matches up with what you’ve got in front of you. Remember, you don’t have to clear your plate. *Bonus* If you tend to clean your plate, consider asking the waiter to box up half your meal before it gets to you.
 
Pay attention

When you’re eating, really be aware of the sight and the texture and the taste of food. We go out to eat because it’s enjoyable, it’s pleasurable, it tastes good — all of that. If you’re really paying attention, maybe you don’t have to eat the whole basket of fries; you can eat just a handful. *Bonus* Enjoy everything about the dining experience! Get dressed up, have a great conversation, check out the décor of the restaurant, and have fun with whoever is keeping you company.
 
Slow down

It can take our bodies up to 20 minutes to register the fact that we’re full — and during that time we’re often continuing to stuff ourselves. Take your time, chew your food carefully, and treat a meal as a leisurely stroll rather than a race. *Bonus* Did you drink your water? Try drinking a whole glass of water before your food comes out and remember to take sips between bites. Ask for extra lemons to give your water more flavor.
 
Drop the fork

While you’re eating, put your fork down for a moment and assess how you’re feeling. We get into such a habit of picking up the fork and putting food in our mouths, without even checking in with ourselves to see, ‘Am I still hungry, or am I full?’ *Bonus* If all else fails, try eating with your non-dominant hand to slow your roll.

 

What do you do to ensure your restaurant meal is as enjoyable as possible?

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Perfect Protein Pancakes

Ok, so I couldn’t wait to share this with you this morning! Get ready for the BEST protein pancakes you’ve ever had! These are seriously fluffier than regular buttermilk pancakes. But first, let me fill you in on some other good stuff. Last night, Colby and I went out for dinner at Nacho Daddy in Henderson. I was really skeptical about this restaurant, but we had a Groupon. Anyway, Groupon or not, I’m so glad we checked this place out! It was much tastier than the corny name suggests. Colby had the appetizer sized tostada nachos. I had to sneak a few bites because these were LOADED with fat flavor! They’re a feast for the eyes, too:

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My mexi-Cobb salad didn’t disappoint eiether! Tender grilled chicken, bell peppers, cucumber, pico de gallo, cheese, black beans, and tortilla crisps on a bed of chopped romaine tossed in thyme vinaigrette… Can’t get much better than that with a salad!

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We will definitely be going back to Nacho Daddy to try more of their nacho and salad creations. The dinner entrees are a bit steep at $18-$20 per plate, but the appetizers and salads range from $8-$11 or so. If you’re a local, check this place out! You can preview the menu here.

Last night’s delicious dinner fueled me up for a 6am run with some of my RAW fitness friends. We jogged a little over 4 miles on a hilly mountain trail called Amargosa. They are such a great group to work out with!

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I tested out my new heart rate monitor this morning, too. I like that it estimates how many calories I burned based on height, weight, age, gender, and HR… And I LOVE that it told me I burned 634 calories this morning! I earned myself a big ol’ breakfast! On the drive home, I decided pancakes or waffles would be on the menu for sure.

We have some Bisquick in the fridge to satisfy sudden waffle cravings, but I was feeling a bit more creative today. I wanted to use some power foods in my breakfast: oats, egg whites, blueberries, and whey protein. From there I concocted a stellar pancake recipe (slightly adapted from fitnessista)

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Perfect Protein Pancakes

Ingredients

-2 tbs ground instant oats
-1 egg white (3 tbs egg whites)
-1.5 scoops vanilla whey protein
-1/4 c almond milk
-1 tsp cinnamon
-3/4 tsp baking powder
-dash of nutmeg
-dash of sea salt
-splash of vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Combine dry ingredients and whisk in wet ingredients.

2. Cook on a lightly greased skillet for 2 mins per side. Top with blueberries, maple syrup, banana… Whatever you like! Makes 2 pancakes.

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Yup, these were perfect! Light, fluffy, sweet, and super filling! I won’t be running back to the fridge for a snack anytime soon. Enjoy!

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Speaking of running to the fridge, check out this sad but true statement about Facebook:

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Can you relate? Ever since I joined a FB group with my workout friends, I find myself checking back frequently to see what they have to say. I really need to cut back on how often I’m checking my FB app!

The Five Love Languages

Colby and I shared our second ever Valentine’s Day together this year! I can’t believe we’ve been married for six months and this is only our second time celebrating this holiday as a couple. It feels like we’ve been together for much longer. Last year, Colby took me out to a (terrible) Italian restaurant at Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson. I remember I had some overpriced chicken that looked like roadkill and tasted about as dry as roadkill probably is. I swear, it was just a flattened chicken with tread marks on it. The dessert was almost unmentionably phallic. Picture it: a chocolate lump, dragging behind it a streak of red raspberry sauce, with some stewed cherries hanging out at the end like testicles. Yum?

This year’s Valentine’s Day was much better! We spent it at Green Valley Ranch again, but this time got a room for the night at the resort. I wanted to show Colby how much I love him, so I got inspired by Gary Chapman’s five love languages. The love languages are the primary ways in which different people receive love. Different people feel loved through different ‘languages.’ I decided to play it safe by using ALL FIVE!

#1- Gifts:

Colby’s gifts were DELICIOUS homemade baked goods from our fundraiser bake sale at work. Check out the goodies!

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This only represents a small fraction of the treats my co-workers brought in. Colby actually baked some very tasty cookies for the bake sale too. Here’s the recipe; definitely make these if you can decipher it:

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Colby’s hershey kiss cookies were SO good, I ended up buying back all the leftovers Smile I guess I sortof gifted him the cookies he made… does that mean I re-gifted? He also got one of everything else at the bake sale; I couldn’t resist!

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Does it surprise you at all that I ended up eating all of these treats besides the snickerdoodle? I should have known I wouldn’t be able to control myself! Colby is the kind of guy who snacks on grape tomatoes at night. What kind of guy is that? An adorably healthy one, says the dietitian with a killer sweet tooth Winking smile As for me, I really loved the tiramisu, marble cake, s’mores cupcake, peanut butter cup cupcake, cheesecake… sigh… Stay tuned for a post about “binge control.”

#2 Affirmation

I wrote Colby a love letter to remind him that he’s awesome. I think he knows he is, but I wanted to be sure!

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#3 Acts of Service

Colby got two acts of service: I returned the stupid overdue DVD from Blockbuster Express that he had rented 3 days before. We never even watched the movie he rented, Puncture. Returning the DVD was a huge pain because the Blockbuster box ended up being broken, so I had to call customer service. Oh the things we do for people we love…

The second act of service was cooking a surprise dinner for him. It was lots of fun to put together! I bought a Valentine’s Day Pizza Kit from Sammy’s Woodfired pizza, Colby’s favorite pizzeria.

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Inside, I found instructions for making a tasty love pizza:

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…And all the basic ingredients needed in perfect portions for a hungry husband:

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I added some extra ingredients of my own to recreate Colby’s favorite BBQ chicken pizza…

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Delicious!! I made a spinach salad to keep myself from attacking HIS dinner.

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It was actually pretty satisfying… I guess.

#4 Quality Time

After dinner, we were excited to get to the Green Valley Ranch to check into our stay-cation room! Colby skipped all of his classes on Wednesday and I had the day off from work, so we got to fully enjoy our time together. The next morning, we hurried down to the fitness center and spa. The Green Valley Ranch spa is rated among the top 3 in Las Vegas! I wasn’t surprised after experiencing a long morning there.

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Colby swam in the heated lap pool while I took a relaxing yoga class. We had a bit of time apart when we were each enjoying the amenities in the men’s and women’s spa areas: sauna, steam room, waterfall showers… Aside from that, we spent almost every minute of the day together, enjoying mimosas, brunch, and each other’s company.

#5 Physical Touch

Don’t worry, I won’t get graphic here. I was actually very sick with a sinus infection on Valentine’s Day this year, so coming in physical contact with Colby was a bad idea. I’ve been so contagious that probably even high-fiving him would have gotten him sick. Sigh. I was super lame and fell asleep as soon as we got to our very spacious and luxurious room. Of course, slipping into a Nyquil-induced coma was not the plan for a romantic Valentine’s Day evening, but it was a necessary sacrifice to enjoy a full day of activities the next morning.

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I think Colby really enjoyed all of the love languages! See how happy he looks?

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Awww… and he got all dressed up, thinking we were going to go out for dinner! What are your top love languages? Do you prefer to be loved with gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, or physical touch? I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s day with someone sweet!