Can We Eat Out and Lose Weight?

Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 by Tammy in Diet | Leave a comment (12)

I tell my students my three favorite things in life are reading, writing, and eating.  It is G-rated and the last one always gets a chuckle.  But it’s true.

I love eating.

So does CJ.  In fact, for years, we planned every outing and vacation around the delectable meal which would surely be the high point of the day.  Heading to San Antonio?  Google me some good Mexican.  Off to New York?  Better load up on the pizza.  Best in the world! 

I accepted the fluffy midsection I was rapidly acquiring.  I live in Houston.  If we’re known for anything besides oil and gas, it is surely the restaurants on every corner.  Eat up!

Eating out was our favorite activity. 

Every Friday for our first few years of teaching, we headed out to Del Pueblo, our favorite Mexican joint.  Two bowls of chips, two beers, a Burrito Grande, and Fajitas Especiales later, we rolled out to our car and over to Blockbuster.  Before we could even figure out who was going to murder who, one or both of us were snoring and drooling on the couch cushions.

And what about the Black-eyed Pea for some down-home cookin’?  What would you like, sir?  I’ll have the chicken fried steak.   And you, maam?  Chicken and dumplings for me.  Two empty lick-em-clean plates later, pants-a-poppin’,  we leaned back in the booth and chastised ourselves.  Next time we won’t ask for the second basket of rolls and cornbread.  That’s just too much.

DiMassis Mediterranean Buffet replaced Del Pueblo and Black-Eyed Pea.  Hell, we were going healthy.  Chicken, cucumber salads, hummus.  A bona fide health food bonanza.  So what if we went up three times?  We didn’t pile our plates like those other gluttons.  

Actions speak louder than words.

Not until our tenth or so year of marriage did we seriously entertain the thought of regular exercise together.  CJ went to the gym a few times a week.  We played tennis on the weekends.  Nothing serious.  But everything changed when, one weekend, we headed out for a walk.    Over the next few weeks, we mapped out a three mile route.  Three miles became four.  Once we changed our jobs, we were able to walk daily.  I lost a few.  He lost a few.  Pants fit.  Pants sagged. 

Suddenly my pancake breakfast on Sunday morning wasn’t palatable.  No more cinnamon coffee and people greeting us with happy smiles?  Nope.  I wasn’t taking daily walks to go and blow my pants out on a pile of pancakes.  Nope.  Not even by stuffing them full of blueberries and bananas could I justify my Sunday fluffy stack of delight. 

This is where most diet gurus will tell you to eat at home.  Load up your plate with as much chicken breast and greens as you like!  You will be happy.   Restaurants are made of evil-doers intent on sabatoging your health and your waistline. 

So what to do?  Just push through the fact that you now hate mealtime and, really, you hate your life?

Hold on, Sally.  We are not giving up our eating out.

Eating out, we realized, was about more than the food.  We eat out because many of our best conversations happen in our favorite eateries.  The idea to start our own business and quit our jobs and start a business together came at one of our frequent flyer cafes.   Not willing to submit to broiled chicken with broccoli, we went out to lunch and hashed a plan to Save the Eat Out.

We listed all the restaurants who offered healthy choices.  We made lists of our favorite meals at each restaurant and decided if they could stay or go.  Veggie burger at Cafe Express.  It can stay, but the whole burger was just too much food for one of us.  Solution:  split the veggie burger and each get a side of fruit.  Supplement with a small cup full of chickpeas from the condiments bar.  Delicious!  Delightful!  Satisfying and we’re not crying!


Eating out is still our favorite activity. Over the course of many conversations and years of tweaking, we found a plan that works for us. We did not have to forgo this ineffable pleasure. We talked, tried new restaurants and menu items, and we continue to talk and tweak our actions to this very day.

And you, Jolly Eater?  Do you love the restaurants like we do?  What conversations are you having with yourself or perhaps your partner regarding eating out?   What works for you?


12 comments about "Can We Eat Out and Lose Weight?"

  1. I apologize if I’m missing it, but what do you guys do together? (working I mean). Mike and I work at home as well, and we used to walk 3 miles a day together but we fell out of it. Time to get back in it. Pants are tight!
    Amy (kidfreeliving) recently posted..40 Year-Old Me Meets 20 Year-Old MeMy Profile

    • Great to have you here, Amy. CJ and I actually have an office we rent for our tutoring (me) and guitar (him) business. It’s a great set up – just the two of us, so no problems with coworkers, waste-of-time office meetings, or any other BS. CJ actually won Employee of the Month one time! Our hours are great, late afternoon/evenings, and we get to do our prep right here at home.

      I look forward to reading more about you and Mike. CJ directed – and I do mean directed – me to your site. Looking forward to more!

  2. Greetings Gjh!

    Since I’m mostly a solo these days, I don’t go out to eat all that often. When I do, I often bring home leftovers: Tah!Dah! two or three “extra” meals, instantly…

    I’m definitely with you on asking the question of “How do I eat even vaguely Healthy, at a restaurant?” That can still be a tough question, these days, though it’s getting easier :)
    Karen J recently posted..Resentments and Distractions…My Profile

    • Good morning, Karen! I envy you that they last two or three meals – mine are gobbled at the very next opportunity! The other day we tried the whole “put some in a box before you start eating” at a cafe – and we actually did it. I was actually full with half of my meal in a box! We have certain faves around the city, so we usually choose places by the healthy choices they offer – thus Pappas Burgers (a Blow Your Burger section will be included in our book!) is now off our choices list.

      So glad you stopped in. Happy Thursday!

  3. You all are making me hungry… :)

    Okay, that aside, you guys make a great point. Once you get to exercising, it does seem like you notice more what you’re eating and what it’s doing to you. And how some foods make you feel. My husband and I found healthy eating and exercise kind of have a snowball effect; healthy eating rolls into exercise, and vice versa, both gain traction and add to each other. We steer clear of the sodas, steer clear of the desserts, and enjoy the heck out of the tasty dishes at some of our favorite restaurants (sushi places, I’m looking at you).

    Great post!
    Megan Joel Peterson recently posted..The second best time is nowMy Profile

    • It was like that with us too, Megan. We just talked about this today. We didn’t have a “goal” in mind when we started walking. There was no magic number on a scale. We just kept walking and eating healthy because we felt better. We are so much happier.

      So glad you stopped by! Now I will go munch my apple sprinkled with cinnamon. My version of apple pie!

  4. Ah, yes, we LOVE to eat out and we have a number of favorite restaurants. My new strategy is to not eat everything on my plate. If I take half (or more than half) home with me I can have it for a meal or two the next day. So I get to stretch out the enjoyment of some tasty dish while distributing the calories over two or three days instead of ingesting them all at once.
    Rosemary recently posted..Some Things I Love About YouMy Profile

    • Welcome, Rosemary! I love the whole idea of not eating everything on your plate. For me, that ‘clean your plate’ mentality took a while to get over. I think I finally got tired of feeling lethargic and sick. What amazed me was how much less food could make me feel satisfied. What? I don’t need the two bowls of tortilla chips, a burrito grande, beans, and rice?

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. We are glad to have you here!

  5. Our very first date was at a Thai restaurant. And we both ordered the same dish.

    But now when we enjoy our favourite Thai restaurant, we just order one plate to share, and that fills us more than enough.

    It’s nice to eat out and lovely that we share similar favourite dishes in a variety of eating out places.
    Mark Adam Douglass (@MADouglass) recently posted..The Rewarding Hard WorkMy Profile

    • I love hearing about how others are doing it, Mark. Thank you for sharing. We live in the 4th largest city in the US, yet we still go back to the same places and get the same dishes. Since we are really going out to eat for the social aspect, we try to cut costs and stay healthy. When we walk in, the staff probably says, “Ah, there’s chicken and hummus!”

  6. I definitely am a huge fan of eating out. I love exploring new cuisines and trying different foods.

    There are just so many options out there and so many things that I just don’t know how to make (especially ethnic foods).

    I recently tried Ethiopian food and it was delicious. However, I highly doubt I would get the chance to try it if I didn’t have it at a restaurant first.

    Of course I could follow a recipe, but it difficult to make something if I have no idea what it should taste like.

    I do think it’s good to eat out in moderation and to choose healthier options if available.
    Elle recently posted..Top 7 Zinc Deficiency Symptoms to Check for If you Think You Suffer from HypozincemiaMy Profile

    • Hello Elle, and a Jolly welcome to you! We too love ethnic foods and love that we have so many from which to choose. I checked out your site and love your focus on health and prevention. We ignored that for way to long. Now we’re feel better than ever and love to hear from others about how they’re doing it. Thank you for stopping by. May you have a frolic-in-the-petunias kind of day!

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