Avoiding Portion Pitfalls When Dining Out

Lori Boxer
Weight★No★More℠ Diet Center

(c) DoubleBrain Fotosearch_k56642044



I often am asked by a client for guidance on how to proceed with portion control when they must eat out, either in a restaurant or at someone’s home. Then, almost always, they’ll recite all the previous advice they’ve heard — you know, measuring by the palm of one’s hand, one handful, two handful, a fist, a deck of cards, a ping pong ball, a golf ball, a tennis ball . . . why not a soccer ball or a basketball, right? Forget all that crap.


Admittedly, I don’t go out to eat very often . . . on purpose. Once or twice a month is enough for me and my husband. But I do practice what I preach, and here’s what I practice.


The best way to do this is to visualize the plate above as you stare down into your own plate.


50% veggies/fruits
25% protein
25% grains


Also, when I eat out I know where I’m going in advance; I never just fall in someplace. I’m also familiar with the menu; either because I’ve been there before or because I’ve gone online to see it. Therefore, I know what I’m going to order. Choosing your food BEFORE you arrive makes it easier to avoid snap decisions you might regret later. Also, importantly, when you know what you will order in advance, you are better able to plan the rest of our day (before and after). All of this is a confidence booster because it feels good to be in control.


If an entree comes with rice or pasta, I inquire as to replacing that with a small baked potato or 3-4 fingerling potatoes simply boiled or roasted. If not, I don’t have a grain at all; and in that case I ask for more veggies . . . so the 50% veggie portion of the plate becomes 75%.


Why don’t I order rice?


I love rice. I have it at home where I am in control of the portion (½ cup cooked). In a restaurant you get way more than that. Yes, I could look down and visualize 25% of my plate and then either push way more rice into that smaller section but I prefer not to be dishonest with myself. Or, since I know that 8 TBS = ½ cup . . . I could ask for the rice on the side, scoop up 8 TBS for my plate and put the rest aside. No, I’m not sure I’d be tempted to eat more of it. So, for me, the safe bet is the small baked potato or 3-4 fingerling potatoes or just getting more veggies.


As for pasta, no . . . I’m not doing that. Again, I can accurately measure ½ cup of cooked pasta when I’m home and feel good about that. I cannot do that in a restaurant. And for me, what matters is feeling in control before I get to the restaurant, being in control in the restaurant, and feeling great as I’m leaving the restaurant.



Additional reading:

The above is about how to handle portion control when out.
When it comes to actual menu choices, read Helpful Hints to Menu Reading.

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