Don’t. If you are trying to lose weight a restaurant is the worst possible place to be. Restaurants are there to serve you food which tastes delicious but which puts it on you quick. Some restaurants have a reputation for being very good for you (i.e. Chinese restaurants use a lot of vegetables). However, be cautious…the salt, oil, garnishes (like those tasty little fried noodles), and sheer SIZE of the portions make Chinese food (like all food) something to consider before you eat it.

Portion size is the worst enemy in a restaurant. Food is actually pretty cheap and the establishment is considered “good” if the size of their offerings is abundant. We are also trained to want MORE. So, getting a real portion of salmon is a shock and makes the restaurant look stingy, doubling it is more appealing to the average diner.

We have a very fancy snooty restaurant in my neighborhood. They used to serve gourmet sized portions at dinner: a dab of something insanely rich in the bottom of an enormous porcelain bowl, one ravioli stuffed with things so tantalizing you could only eat one. Teensy desserts teased you. The experience was for special times…it’s smallness made it deluxe.

Now we went there for our anniversary. Even this gourmet restaurant had fallen for the lure of MOAR. There were 3 not 1 raviolis with rich rich cheeses, BIG hunks of meat for the main course, the appetizers were twice the size they used to be and dessert? I could not finish my gigantic pot de creme.

I looked around the restaurant and realized that the diners were all a lot plumper than I was used to seeing! A table of doctors were eating next to us and they were all overweight. You never used to see that but you do now because of portion size. It is really insidious and will insert itself any place it can get a toe hold in.

I was coming back from a trip and had to eat in an airport tavern recently. I looked at the menu and the least calorie laden things I saw was the hamburger and fries. I ordered it with the sauce on the side, lots of veggies on the burger. When it came I cut it in two (which made for 2 4 oz servings), scooted half of the fries off to the side and ate half of it all. It was good and I didn’t gain an ounce. But I had to physically cleave my meal in two to make sensible portion sizes, and that is the norm now rather than the weird instance.

So my big tip here is: ALWAYS CUT THE SERVING IN TWO AND EAT HALF. IF THEY HAVE A CHILDREN’S MENU, ORDER FROM THAT. This idea has saved me millions of calories in places like McDonald’s, my corner pub, the snooty restaurant, and every place else.

Revoke your membership in the Clean Plate Club and take home what you don’t eat IN A BOX, NOT ON YOUR REAR END!

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