Small Steps Toward Better Eating

Learning from experience, when I wanted to see changes in my life, making small efforts daily resulted in progress. This held true for bettering my health. When I started reading wellness articles ranging from medical journals to fan favorite authors like Kris Carr and Dr. Fuhrman, I noticed some trends and started my adventure there. If it was a simple health tip about adding more fruits and vegetables, I just tried it, then consulted with my doctors. If the recommendation included adding herbs, vitamins or other natural remedies, I held off until my I could speak to a medical professional.

Yes, eliminating pre-packaged foods, added sugars, cheese, big ol’ bagels, apple martinis, soda-pop, granola bars, turkey sandwiches, pizza and succulent steaks can be hard. But taking it slow, one step at a time and staying committed, can be much easier than the anticipation of “quitting” it all.

No Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies & Granola

I had a sweet tooth. Anything crunchy with chocolate didn’t stand a chance in front of me. But when I changed my eating habits in fall of 2013, I removed added sugar and syrups from my diet. The medical and natural communities agree that sugar can have devastating effects on our health, so I just quit. Fast forward a few months and I was craving something sweet. So, I experimented in the kitchen and came up with no-bake chocolate oat cookies.

How to Quit Going Out to Eat

I’m seriously annoyed right now. It’s nearly midnight, which means I should be snoozing, but I’m can’t. Why? Because I’m stewing over the waitress at a local restaurant messing up my meal. I’m sure most people can look past a dining error. For me, it is hard to accept, especially considering I didn’t find out about her screw-up until after I ate it.

When I chose a vegan lifestyle late last year, I was forced to scratch many of my favorite restaurants from the rotation (I go out to eat often). This left me with only a handful of restaurants that I trusted to cook my meals. Tonight’s restaurant was one of those trusted establishments (note I said “was”).

Like I did so many times in the past, I ordered a naked kale salad topped with various cooked vegetables. And as per my usual routine, I reminded the waitress that I was vegan. But despite the disclaimer, my meal came with vegetables cooked with butter (and sugar). Last year, I would have just felt fat after inadvertently eating the dish. But now I fear that even the thought of dairy or simple sugar enrage the cancer cells in my body.

Considering I frequent this restaurant, I’m not sure I want to permanently ban it. But I’m certainly contemplating changing my longtime hobby of eating out and possibly replacing it with preparing home meals. I then know, for sure, that I’m eating primarily organic without added sweeteners or fatty oils that ruin the nutrient content of the food. The swelling pit in my stomach and chaos in my mind tells me I need to make a change.

Perhaps, I contemplated this for years. Quitting dining out because it put on the pounds. Always a pain-in-the-ass eater, I scanned menus searching for the least fatty entry, and then dumbed it down with a no-special sauce, steamed version. Think creamy thick alfredo, exchanged for a light marinara, with additional steamed vegetables and a dab of pasta on the side. With that type of order, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the chef rolled his eyes and accidently sneezed in my food. Or perhaps, like today, the server didn’t even prepare the chef adequately. So, I was served vegetables doused in butter masked by a seemingly healthy red sauce. No wonder I never lost weight and was always bloated. I lied to myself thinking I could eat out often and be healthy. In addition, I rationalized that this costly hobby lowered my grocery bills and saved me money.

So, what is a busy and social mom, wife, writer, homemaker, seeking vegan and allergy sensitive options supposed to do? While I love to eat out, it doesn’t necessarily align with my goal of eating vegan. I may not “quit” entirely, perhaps I will seek other options and dine out less regularly. Here is my top five list to figure out a better restaurant plan that will likely not only keep my eating “clean”, but will also conserve cash and calories.

How to Quit Going Out to Eat or Making Healthy Choices While Dining Out

How to Quit Going Out to Eat or Make Healthy Choices While Dining Out

5. Prepare most meals myself, so I know what is in my food especially being health conscious allowing for one subpar restaurant meal a week.

  • Meal plan – schedule Sundays to figure out groceries and clean/prepare some.
  • Pick a night a week for in-home date night – use wedding china and try new recipes.
  • Frequent a vegan take-out place.

4. When going to a restaurant, choose one aligned with my priorities: Vegan (5-star choice), Sushi (brown rice and vegetable rolls easy to prepare), Italian restaurants (typically cook in olive oil rather than butter.)

3. Swap going out to dinner for bar hopping. Find a neighborhood one to frequent and walk there with my husband.

2. When going out for dinner, be over-kind to the server and remind several times of my “food allergies.”

1. Drink more – eat less. Water! Green Tea! Hot Water/Lemon! Occasional Seltzer! Non-Sweetened Iced Tea! Wine (organic reds!) with something simple on the menu.

Please list your suggestions (or comment on your favorite places) for healthy fare.