Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Business of Eating

Yes, it has been a few days since my last posting. I've been out of town for several days on business. But that brings me to the subject of today's entry. How do you eat when you're living for days out of hotels and restaurants? It isn't easy, but the encouraging thing about it is this: if you are diligent on a daily basis, then you can actually fade the heat when it comes to going a week off your program and unable to do any calorie counting.
The challenging thing I found is that being with a group of business people, it's hard to eat 'lite' or ask for any special compensations of the restaurant chef without drawing attention to yourself and having comments made by your fellow diners; something you really don't want to have happen. So here is what I did. Breakfast, thankfully, was easily taken care of. I packed plenty of nutrition bars to bring along. Most every hotel room has a coffee maker of some kind now, so it was easy for me to have my usual breakfast of coffee and a bar. Lunch meals ran the full spectrum of everything from something grabbed on the road, to an actual sit-down meal in a small town diner where a serving of chicken fried steak or chicken and gravy over homemade biscuits are the norm. For the on the road stops, a Subway Sandwich shop fit the bill. But for the diner stops, the choices were tougher. In those cases, I sometimes opted for a salad with dressing on the side. Instead of pouring all of it over my salad, I dipped my fork in the dressing before each bite, and that gave me the flavor I wanted without having a salad 'swimming' in dressing. Or I would pick a cup of soup with a small sandwich. When I finished, there was still food on the plate.

Dinner was the toughest. When you're eating out with a group of colleagues, particularly men, they tend to lean toward ordering those huge steak dinners complete with wine and dessert. Even in those cases I tried to lean toward the healthy end of things. Most steak places still offer a few fish and chicken dishes. As long as the meat is broiled or baked and not battered and fried, you're probably pretty safe. And forget what Mom said, you never have to clean your plate. In fact, if you do that by today's American restaurant servings, you're probably eating enough for 2 other people.

Side dishes can be loaded with fat and calories. In those cases I opted for a baked potato dry, (as in not loaded with butter, cheese, and sour cream), and got those items "on the side" to add as I saw fit. Frankly, I didn't add them, but they were there if I'd wanted. Other 'healthier' choices available were steamed vegetables, which I also opted for on occasion. I did order steak one night so I got the leaner cut, the filet Mignon over say a fatty prime rib or some such. Wine was easy since as long as your glass is half full, no one knows whether you're drinking it or not. Sipping it slowly as an accompaniment instead of a thirst quencher, allows you to join in with everyone but not go crazy with empty calories. I always have a glass of water next to my wine glass and that's what I end up drinking mostly. One out of 5 nights of straight restaurant meals, I went ahead and selected a dessert. And even then I went for what I thought might be a tad healthier. In this case, Key Lime pie over what I can only call the biggest slab of chocolate cake I've ever seen. (And Americans wonder why we're so fat!) Remember, you also always have the option of sharing a dessert if someone else at the table wants to.

All in all it was not a bad week of eating. When I stood on the scale this morning, even I was surprised to see that the number was the same as it was the day I left. I attribute that all to the fact that I'm careful about what I eat and how much, most of the time. If you're careful, then every now and then when these events come along that are beyond your control, you and your body will do just fine. Afterward, you can get back on your program, which I've already done, and carry on!

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