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Last night our task was to go out for dinner. Dr. Freedhoff has some great thoughts on dining out. Though "every day that you're eating a meal out is a day that you're not likely to lose weight," he still thinks that it is okay to go to a restaurant for a social occasion or for work. The thing he says to avoid is going out to eat (and probably by extension, ordering carryout) because you are feeling too lazy to cook.
I have come to that conclusion a lot of times myself, especially when we decide to go out because we are in a bad mood and don't want to fuss with cooking, and then the restaurant is too busy, has bad service, or is otherwise more trouble than it was worth. Those days are the days where it would have been better to make a sandwich or some scrambled eggs at home. I find that planning meals ahead and having the ingredients in the house gets rid of 90% of the temptation not to cook. The other thing that is great is that when we are cooking regularly and have leftovers, those can become "emergency meals." Dr. Freedhoff advises buying some healthy frozen dinners to cover this need, but I don't like frozen dinners, other than frozen pizza which doesn't seem to fit the bill.
Dr. Freedhoff warns that the calories posted on restaurant websites, though useful, are often wrong, and usually in the direction of having fewer calories than actually posted. Personally, I would rather go to the kind of restaurant that doesn't have calories on its website, because I'd rather go to small, local places than national chains.
Some other tips are the kind that you would hear anywhere -- have a snack before going so you aren't too hungry to make good choices, be careful with alcohol, etc. His directive was to "order the lowest-calorie item on the menu that you think you'll actually enjoy."
We went to Dégagé Jazz Café, a great restaurant with a menu that changes seasonally. I had tried to look at the menu but the version I found on the web was not the right season. We skipped the appetizer and I had a salad with salmon. I stole a couple of my husband's fries. There was no breadbasket. I had one glass of wine and we split a dessert and had some coffee. I felt very happy with my choices and the amount of food I had.
The one thing that was annoying was that there was a huge TV right in my peripheral vision. Worse, it was showing Fox News. I kept getting distracted by the constant motion on the screen. I thought about asking if it could be turned off, since no one seemed to be watching it, but I didn't -- it really seemed out of place since we were sitting in the dining room and not a sports bar. I personally would love to support restaurants that advertised themselves as "Screen-Free Zones." Next time, I'll ask for a table where I can't see it.