Back in the 50s eating at home was normal, dining out was special. Dining out was so special, in fact, that Mainers only averaged fewer than 20 times in a year.
Considering most of us eat 21 meals every week, the average of those meals eaten out of the home nowadays, are 10.
Fox news reported, “Americans spend more on dining out than groceries for the first time ever,” in April 2015.
We like to dine out! What’s wrong with that?
There’s nothing wrong and there may be plenty wrong. The upside of frequent dining out is convenience, spending less time shopping and preparing food and virtually no cleanup after a meal. Another benefit of dining out is variety – so many restaurants, so many cuisines.
Yes, there are lots of benefits to dining out, but when you’re watching your weight, dining out can stand between you and success. We tend to eat more in restaurants than when we eat a meal at home. Restaurant meals are often very high in calories due to preparation methods and serving sizes.
There are more overeating traps in restaurants.
They start catching you the moment you walk in the door before you’re even seated. The sights and the smells start to affect your appetite and trick you into thinking you’re hungrier than you really are.
It’s called hedonic hunger and while the hunger is in your mind, not in your body, it feels real because it is real. Your stomach feels empty and it may even begin to growl. You become aware of the physical sensations of being very hungry even though your body may not be in need of food for fuel.
Immediately upon being seated diners are greeted by their friendly server asking the question, “Can I get you a drink to get you started?”
The server isn’t asking you if you want water, but rather a sugary soft drink or maybe wine or a high-calorie mixed drink. Drinks in a restaurant can be a lot of calories you wouldn’t have with a meal eaten at home.
The server comes back with your drink and a basket of warm rolls and some whipped, herbed butter. How often do you eat rolls and generously slap on the butter at home before your meal? Didn’t think so.
When the basket is empty a good server asks the question, “Would you like more rolls?”
Hedonic hunger becomes a problem when it’s time to order.
You planned to order roasted chicken but go for the fried chicken instead. Even if you do stick with your plan, that roasted chicken may have a lot more calories per serving than the chickens you roast at home. Butter and oil are often generously rubbed and tucked and basted on that roasted chicken you ordered.
At home you may remove the skin before you roast your chicken breasts. Maybe you don’t remove it before roasting, and instead remove it before you eat it. Remember all that butter the cooks put all over the chicken before and during roasting?
Yes, it adds calories but it also makes the skin irresistible. It’s so good and of course you’re not going to remove it and set it aside. Your going to eat it and worry about all the calories later.
Don’t think your sides aren’t also made more tasty and irresistible with more butter. Mashed potatoes, broccoli or green beans are all quite tasty without anything added to them, but they go far beyond tasty with a generous blob of butter right before serving.
At home there is nobody watching you to see when you put down your fork. Nobody parades over to your kitchen table pushing a cart of delicious desserts. Some restaurants tempt you with the cart, others place a full-color dessert menu in front of you and some merely describe ‘our house specialty dessert.”
On occasion none of those things happen, but you find yourself asking your server, “what do you have for dessert?”
If you’re eating at home and trying to lose weight, you might know that the answer to the “what’s for dessert?” question is, “nothing.” Eating at home is more likely to stop with the entree without so much as even a thought about dessert because desserts aren’t in the house.
Those are some of the more obvious overeating traps in restaurants. There are plenty of subtle ones too.
Without doing much more than preparing and eating more meals at home you could lose weight.
You have complete control over the recipes, the preparation, and the serving sizes. You can avoid temptation because some of the high calorie indulgences you normally eat in restaurants aren’t available to you in your home. You don’t have them, so you can’t eat them.
Eating at home can be the easiest weight loss plan you ever attempted. Try it and let me know how it worked.