I’d Like My Meal for Here…and to Go!

The July Project: Day 7

Nearly a week, and all I’ve managed to talk about so far is exercise. Diet is a more difficult subject to approach. Food means a lot more than sustenance, more than just the source of energy to keep the body running. Food is laden with emotional context.

We’ll come back to that context another day. Today, I’ll ease into the topic with one of the simplest weight-loss tips I can offer.

Do you eat in restaurants? I love to dine out, but restaurant portions are out of control. Restaurants seem to be engaged in a competition to see who can pile the most food on a plate. I’ve never worked in restaurant management, but I can only suppose that an economy of scale is at work here. Maybe an oversized plate that sells for $13.95 is more profitable to serve than a right-sized portion at $9.95. An overloaded plate certainly creates the perception of increased value for the consumer. But where’s the value in consuming hundreds of surplus calories when you’re already full?

No one was more surprised than I to realize that you don’t have to eat everything the restaurant serves you. When the server lays a super‑sized meal on the table, make up your mind at that instant to take half of it home. If you doubt your self-control, ask the server for a to‑go box the minute she bring your plate, and don’t start eating until she returns with the container. Use your knife and fork to isolate a reasonable portion of food to eat now, and put the rest straight into the box to take home.

If you’re concerned with presentation, ask the server to have the kitchen split the meal in half for you, and to put the leftovers in a to‑go box before he even brings it to the table. The worst he’ll do is say no. He’s working for tips, after all.

The first few times I followed this practice, I felt sorry for myself, a little deprived. But I found that I wasn’t going away hungry. Too much is too much, and all I needed was to train myself to pay attention to being served too much. Later it dawned on me that I’m now getting two meals for the price of one! I’m a cheapskate, so that realization made my new habit taste even sweeter.

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