Saturday, February 23, 2008

Restaurant success!

Tonight, we went out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. I have been planning on it for days, and pretty excited. But I had no idea what the menu would be like. I was pretty confident I would be able to make good choices. I ate lightly but sufficiently throughout the day. I also had determined that I would be careful to eat slowly and mindfully, enjoying every bite.

When we arrived, I was impressed with the lovely atmosphere of the place. I got an unsweetened iced tea and sipped it slowly so it lasted the whole meal. I had one slice of bread from the breadbasket, with a smear of garlic butter, and I ate it soooo slowly. I put it down between bites, and savored it. I even smelled it. Then for an appetizer I got melon wrapped in prosciutto. I ate 2 sweet ripe wedges of cantaloupe and one wafer-thin slice of prosciutto. I cut the melon into little bites, and ate it slowly. I cut the ham in teeny slivers and savored it in my mouth. Then came the salad. It was small, but very fresh and green, with a small but perfectly ripe red tomato sliced in it. It came dressed with a bit of oil and vinegar. As I was eating the salad, I got distracted. About halfway through, I realized I barely tasted it and was not even aware I was inhaling it. Bad habits die hard! So, I slowed down, and tasted every bit. I decided it was not all that great, so I left some of it in my bowl and waited for the main dish.

I had been planning to order baked fish and vegetables, or, if fish was not available, a chicken breast dish with vegetables. Imagine my jaw hitting the table when I opened the tri-fold menu and found page after page of PASTA dishes - all from homemade pasta! I LOVE pasta! I quickly skipped those pages to find the non-pasta dishes. I found them on the back: a few beef dishes, some veal, but NO fish. NONE! There was a chicken breast, but it was breaded and fried and served over pasta. I looked harder, and there it was! A nugget of hope in a minefield of fattening entrees: baked eggplant! Not breaded, not fried. Baked eggplant with red sauce and mozzarella. NO PASTA. I ordered it. I looked for side dishes to find some veggies, but all I found were sausages and meatballs. When my eggplant came, it was beautiful. Two large slices, lots of nice red sauce, and a moderate amount of cheese (not overwhelming like some places). I ate one slice, and boxed the other one to bring home. Beside the eggplant were two long, thin broccoli spears. I ate them both. In hindsight, I could have asked the waitress if they had any veggies, or could have ordered a larger dish of the broccoli. I know many places are willing to accommodate special requests. I probably could have gotten a chicken breast without breading or pasta, but the eggplant was so much more filling. Delicious!

I knew I wanted to try a dessert. It was my big splurge for the week. The waitress listed off the choices: cheesecake, spumoni, cakes, pastries. Then she said "panna cotta with fresh fruit." AHA! I always try to find something with some nutrition. So I got that. It was a very thick, sweetened cream with lots of fresh strawberries on top. I ate all of the berries, and about 1/3 of the cream. It was just enough. My dear husband ate the rest!

I came home feeling full but not overstuffed. I feel great! Not sluggish like I used to. When I used to go to a (different) Italian place, I would eat:

5 or more pieces of bread WITH butter from the basket
Coke with 2 refills
half an order of fried mozzarella sticks (appetizer)
antipasto (salami, cheese, ham, olives)
salad with lots of cheese and dressing... all of it
fettuccine Alfredo with Italian sausage. OMG, heart attack on a plate. And I would eat it ALL, and practically clean the plate with my fork! I would have licked it if I could have gotten away with it.
several pieces of buttered garlic bread
a big rich dessert, like chocolate mousse cake... and I ate every bite.

Do you think I felt kinda crappy after eating all that? Yeah. Very much so. But tonight, I feel wonderful. I don't have a greasy residue in my mouth or in my stomach. I am not suffering with heartburn. I am not sweating Alfredo sauce and breaking out in zits like a teenager. THIS is life. THIS is the way I want to live. Enjoy food in moderation.

As for my green X's... I have SIX in a row on my calendar. All week I ate under 1500 calories. I weigh 241 pounds (that's 7 pounds gone this week). Today, I still added up my calories: 1649. It's over my 1500, so I get a red X, but I am happy. Now I have to get another good week of green X's for myself, and I know I will end this month thinner than I started it... and much happier!


MB said...

It is so hard to eat healthy at a restaurant - you did a great job finding the best option. Congrats on the green x's. You are making great progress. Keep going ...

Anonymous said...

Good choices at any Italian restaurant is a difficult one. Not sure where you went, but some actually now have whole wheat pasta that you can ask for. Also dressing on the side along with any sauces on the side.

Heather said...

I think you did fantastic! You are a perfect example of how just by making small changes and choices, you can still go out and enjoy your meal. And I am so proud that you didnt get any of hte pasta dishes..that must have been hard, but I know how you felt afterwards was worth it to you.

Katschi said...

That's alot of self control. My mouth waters just thinking of all the food you could've ordered. Very good choices!
It DOES feel good waking up knowing you ate healthy!
And look at you! Back down to 241 lbs. Fantastic!
I like your idea of the red and green stars and I'll use that next month.
Great going, Lyn!

Lynne said...

Link all those GREEN x's together and you are set up for success!! I am inspired!

Katschi said...

Hi Lyn,~~per your comment on my oats :)
What size crockpot are you using for your steel cut oats? I like the idea of doing this and love the idea of adding apples while it's cooking. It must smell so good in the morning!

Lyn said...


Mine is HUGE too! It must be 6 quarts. It's from Cuisinart. The oatmeal is a small layer, like an inch deep in it, but it works. If I were you I would try it on the "warm" setting first. Mine seems to burn stuff on Low. If it isn't done enough on warm then bump it up to low. If you're worried about the volume you can double the recipe and cut the water back by a half cup.

Also the cooked oatmeal stores nicely in the fridge and can be reheated in the microwave. Hope you like it!

p.s., for those readers who have no idea what we are talking about, I left Kaschi a recipe for steel cut oats in the crock pot on her blog. Here it is:

Here's an easy way to make steel cut oats. I do this on weekends. You put the stuff in your crock pot at bedtime and wake up to a prefectly cooked pot of creamy oatmeal!

Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. Add 4.5 cups of water and 1 cup of steel cut oats. Add other stuff if you like (I often add a diced apple, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla). Stir gently. Cook overnight on LOW heat (about 8 hours). In the morning give it a stir and serve up. Makes 4 BIG servings. I often add some nuts to mine in the bowl, and maybe sliced bananas too.

My crockpot cooks kinda hot so I actually leave it on the WARM setting all night and they come out perfectly.

Katschi said...

I will try this when the batch I just cooked this morning runs out.
Thanks alot Lyn!

Chubby Chick said...

What a great NSV... which will certainly reflect on the "S!" Good for you! :)

Cammy said...

What a lovely night out! Good for you for making the right choices.

One thing to keep in mind is that most restaurants have dishes "off the menu" that they can serve. In fact, most of my experience has been very positive when I've asked waitstaff for their help in constructing a healthier option.

Hanlie said...

I always maintain one can have a really healthy meal at Italian and Greek restaurants. Or you can have a really unhealthy meal. The choice is yours, and they are normally quite accommodating to special requests because they use fresh ingredients and the food is mostly freshly made.

I think you did great. The mindful eating makes a huge difference!

Ready to Shrink said...

That is awesome! You did such a great job! My hubby laffs at me cause I am the special request queen...Can I have the chicken without breading, hold the cheese oh and can you add roasted red peppers to that and can I get 1/2 cup of brown rice instead of pasta...thanks :) LOL--yeah I am now that girl. LOL