Ordering off the "light" menu ...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My husband called and asked me if I wanted dinner out last night as I was shopping. As I'd planned on picking something up on the way home, anyway, it didn't sound like a bad idea. I'd just watch my selections, as I am working on trying to bring more balance to my meals. My usual habits of scarfing a breakfast as quickly as possible in the mornings and trying to remember to bring something with for lunch usually end up in calorie-laden evenings, even if I'm within my calorie count for the day.

He asked about IHOP, which sounded A-OK with me, and so off we went. I perused the calorie laden offerings on the seasonal menu, and must admit, the pumpkin pancakes did have a bit of a calling. And although I knew I probably had enough left in the day to have the smallest version, at least, I decided that it was more important to restore balance, rather than jsut stay within calorie range (I actually finished significantly under, but hope that will leave me room to increase my breakfast calories accordingly tomorrow!).
So, I ordered off the "For Me" menu, and was quite satisfied with the yummy omelette and a side of fruit.

It wasn't until I was driving home that I stopped to consider that maybe I felt a little self-concious about my choice.

When my husband asked what I was getting, I slipped by his question as the waitress came by answering, "I'm ready to order," and simply giving her my order.

He's been very supportive of my weight-loss efforts and complimentary on my progress, although I know he thinks it's a bunch of malarky. But he always tells me, "Obviously, it's working for you, so keep doing whatever you enjoy."

Then I realized, somewhere within me there's a part that wonders, "Does the waitress think, 'Gee, it's gonna take a lot more than this one better decision to take off that weight?'"

I think I'd feel more comfortable if healthier items were spread throughout the menu, instead of sequestered to the back page in a special section for us "fatties." Although I appreciate and applaud the efforts restauraunts are making to offer healthier selections; it would be nice for them to recognize that many people are making complete lifestyle changes. These don't have to be items that are only of interest to people who are "dieting."
Also, I've observed that when I'm with other people who are "dieting," they seem hesitant to order anything from these selections. Maybe these items simply don't have the same appeal as stuffed french toast (of which, I must admit, I've been a victim in the past). But could it be, too, that they worry about what others will think when they order off the "special" menu.

All in all, it was a really good meal, and probably a decision I'll make again. According to the information here at SparkPeople, I'd even seriously underestimated the calorie counts in my dinner (although they brought me even closer in line to my goals of eating evenly), so I felt like it was a good amount of food for the calories.

But I just wonder if the next time, I'll be thinking, "I really enjoyed this meal before, and I think I'll order it again," or if I'll be thinking, "I should really order something off the 'fatties' menu."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    i hear you but on the flip side- for those of us just starting out, i'd be really tempted if i had to browse throughout a menu and then choose the lighter option! HA! i'd never make it back to the lighter option.
    i do like the suggestion of ordering from the calorie menu- that just helps you make informed decisions. maybe your "sinful" dish, when split in half is 500 calories? i think i'll ask next time i'm out. that whole- calories at your drive in has really curbed my fast food intake!! plus, you're not ordering off the "special" menu.
    i get a little shy that the "fatty" is ordering off the low calorie menu but i have 2 reasons that help me get past it.
    1. my friends that are thin, order off the special menu!!! they WATCH their weight by making healthier food choices. not one of my girlfiends eats whatever she wants. they workout hard, they enjoy in moderation, they ALWAYS check their portions. please, we're not in our teens anymore- it takes work!
    2. i used to be a server for many years, i never once thought about the person and a judgement of what they were ordering. i had to focus on their needs, multitask like crazy, "grace under fire," and get an awesome tip to make rent. if you want marshmallow mountains on a prime rib sandwich- i will make it happen for you. HA! Boy, am i glad i'm outta that world!!!hehehhe
    awesome blog, though provoking!
    2989 days ago
    It took a lot of strength to stick with your decision after picking up the menu. I hope I can remember your strength and reasoning when this scenario happens for me. emoticon
    2992 days ago
    Next time ask if they have a menu with calorie content included for all selections on the menu. I did that at the Olive Garden, and they had a brochure in the back that they brought out for me. That way, I could see the calorie content of everything on the menu, and choose the item that I wanted, based on my health plan. I was able to order the seafood portofino, which had a much lighter garlic herb sauce than some of the higher calorie cheese and cream based fettucini's, and I enjoyed a glass of wine too- all within my calorie budget! Good luck and keep on Sparking emoticon
    3008 days ago
    Maybe the waitress was thinking...Smart choice! emoticon
    3008 days ago
    I've never thought of the healthy sections of restaurant menus in quite that way before... interesting way of looking at it.

    I think I'm going to be borrowing your idea of pre-deciding on what to order. That way I'll have PLENTY of time to figure out the nutritionals for my meal!
    3008 days ago
    PinkStilletos - We have a chain here called "Cotton Patch," with kind of home-cooked meals. Don't know if you have one in your area. But you can order just about all of their meals in a "Dixie Bell" size, which is a smaller order of meat, but just as much of the veggies. I order those all the time with no qualms when I go there, and often ask about substituting veggies when I order meals that typically come with fries. But I've just realized that those "seperate" menus kind of get to me!
    3008 days ago
    I agree with you, there's a weird vibe when you go out to eat, especially with other women actually, on the one hand they'll notice more and applaud you for "being good" but on the other hand there's a feeling like you're showing off, being smug, trying to make them feel guilty. I've found if I look at the menu online before hand and know going in what I'm going to get, it helps me avoid both longing for other, less healthy options and it makes me feel less self-conscious somehow, like the decision at that moment is out of my hands.
    3008 days ago
    Good for you for making the healthier choice at a restaurant where it would have been so much easier to go for the pancakes! I think it's all about how you look at it when you talk about the placement of healthier options on the menu. I have never thought of the healthier options as being in one place for us overweight people. Usually, I think, I bet this is what the HEALTHY people order. I have never thought of the healthy options on the menu as the designated "Overweight Person's Sections of the Menu".

    And, when I worked at Denny's I would often order off of the kids menu and the senior's menu because the portions were so much more realistic for what any person should be eating.

    Hold your head up high when you order the healthy menu items and tell yourself that the back of the menu is for the healthy people.
    3008 days ago
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