Eating Out

Thank you to Marsha for posting a comment that reflects how many people feel about eating out! I can certainly relate to Marsha and those of you who prefer to eat home, where you can control the content and quantity of food on your plate.

Eating in restaurants can be tricky, since somebody else determines which ingredients are used and what portion size is served. In addition, restaurant menus rarely disclose the intricate details, so even though I choose the nutrient-dense, whole grain toast (instead of the paltry white toast), if I forget to specify that I’d like the toast “dry,” I’m likely to end up with a sopping wet, butter-soaked disaster.

Years ago, I worked in a restaurant where the chef garnished every plate with a heaping spoonful of shredded cheese. As a conscientious waitress, who would be annoyed if someone chose to hide my lunch under a coat of melted cheese, I felt compelled to divulge this kitchen secret as I jotted down each order. Most patrons smiled and salivated at the thought of melted cheese, but some lactose-intolerant and weight-watching customers were grateful for the opportunity to intercept the uninvited dose of dairy.

Because most restaurant menus are vague and waiters are not trained to provide inside information, be inquisitive! Even if the menu describes an item as grilled, ask for more details. Food can be grilled on an open flame or it can be “grilled” on a flat-top grill, laden with bacon lard.

Like all service-oriented businesses, restaurants aspire to please their customers. Take time to peruse the menu and assess which options are likely to meet your needs. Rather than reconstructing your needs to match the menu’s words, think outside the box. You are under no obligation to order directly off the menu.

As food allergies and dietary restrictions become more prevalent, chefs are more willing and able to adapt recipes to meet their customers’ needs. Speak up in the name of health and longevity! Ask for less oil, swap a cream sauce for a tomato-based one, and request items steamed rather than fried. Determine what you want and ask for it!

Those of you who only dine out on rare, special occasions, rest assured that an occasional splurge is completely acceptable.