Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - What Ought I to Have Done?

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02-23-2007, 12:25 PM
Hi all,

I found myself in a bit of a pickle last night and I'm still not sure what I should have done.

I work in a restaurant as a waitress several nights a week. Usually the kitchen staff will make the waitstaff whatever we want for dinner and there is no major calorie problem (tangent: although when it is slow, I find it almost impossible to avoid snacking in the kitchen. They keep such delicious food in there--rocquefort cheese, candied walnuts, olives, mushroom risotto, good bread, roasted potatoes, scallops sauteed in butter--and I'm allowed to wander in and munch on it...). Anyway, last night the chef suggested that we all go and get Mexican food after work rather than eating her food, and everyone thought this was an excellent idea. I had planned to have a salad with some fish for dinner and hadn't really alotted calories for Mexican, but I figured I'd go along with it and choose something sensible off the menu.

The problem came, of course, when I tried to identify the 'sensible' menu items. I knew I should avoid the beans and rice, but short of eating a bowl of pico de gallo with a spoon, I couldn't tell that any particular menu item was better and lower in calories than any other. Everything is so darn fatty and saucy. Eventually I thought, to **** with it, and ordered a combination plate with a beef enchilada, a beef tostada and beans and rice. I had planned to NOT eat the beans and rice, but, well, you know how it is when someone sets a delicious plate of food in front of you--I ate the lot. Probably about 1000 grams of fat and 2 million calories.

I'm trying to not feel guilt about this--I'll go to the gym today instead of taking today off as I'd planned--but I wonder what you all think I should have chosen to eat instead (short of insisting that the chef make me dinner at my restaurant). *Is* there a lower-cal option in a regular mexican cantina??


02-23-2007, 12:31 PM
Personally, I don't think beans are a bad option. Especially if they aren't refried and most Mexican restaurants have the option of whole beans as a side.

Also, a lot of Mexican restaurants have steak or chicken with spices. Just forget the tortillas.

And, don't forget fajitas (again, forget the tortillas). You have the meat (choose chicken), the peppers and onions and a little salsa and it's a great meal.

Don't beat yourself up over the one bad meal, though. Get back OP and you'll be just fine.

02-23-2007, 12:35 PM
it to late now, but you will have to be careful this week. glen

02-23-2007, 12:43 PM
I have the same problem with Mexican restaurants. I do the taco salads with chicken and no shell, and often just guacamole, no sour cream. The whole-bean substitution is a great idea!

I often order whatever, and just ask for half of it to be boxed right away.

02-23-2007, 12:51 PM
Look at the ingredients. I'm a real stickler when it comes to menus. I won't go to a restaurant until I've looked at their online menu and made sure that there were options for me. For example, yesterday, I had a craving for Mexican food. There is a Mexican restaurant in the student union, and I saw that they had a vegan burrito with only 533 calories and that thing was huge! My point is, just look at the ingredients and plus and/or minus things.

02-23-2007, 12:52 PM
I actually didn't realize that non-refried beans were an option, until my friend's dinner arrived with whole beans. Those are a much better option. Fajitas sans tortillas would have been a good choice. (They cost twice as much as everything else though, which is why I didn't order them. I should have, probably.)

Thanks for the suggestions!

02-23-2007, 01:10 PM
At Mexican restaurants, I normally get a bowl of black bean soup (no cheese) and a side of pico de gallo/shredded lettuce. If the have whole wheat tortillas, I roll my own little bean/pico burritos (they are a little drippy, heh). Totally healthy and pretty tasty. The chip basket is my big issue, I have to have it FAR AWAY and I can't have a single chip, once I break the "chip barrier" it's all over.

02-23-2007, 01:40 PM
Don't beat yourself up over this. Sometimes life doesn't go the way we planned and we can't control it. One meal off plan is barely going to cause a blip, if it even does that, in your overall weight loss.

It sounds like you are doing great; putting in an extra day a the gym is an excellent solution and I'm sure you'll be past this in no time at all.

02-23-2007, 02:32 PM
I agree with not beating yourself up over it (and 1kg of fat & 2 million calories seems like quite a bit of overestimate ;) ), chuck it as a lesson learned and move on.

For future references, ask the waiter if beans are whole or refried -- whole beans are a good, healthy source of proteins.

I also noticed that you ordered a combination (multiple-entree) plate -- which probably means that there are probably single entree options too that'll probably have saved you some calories.

Another strategy you could use is ask for a to-go box when your food arrives and stuff half (or more) of it in the box to limit how much food is staring back at you. Whether you wanna eat the stuff in the box, save it for later or chuck it in the trash when you get home is up to you (though in my experience many restaurant foods don't taste nearly as good upon reheating, so probably not worth the calories for).

Tortilla soup, black bean soups & fajitas are pretty healthful options and standard fare in mexican restaurants. "Taco salads" can be OK too, esp. with cheese & dressing on the side and if you don't eat the entire fried taco shell.

02-23-2007, 02:34 PM
I'd agree, don't beat yourself up. Beans and even the rice aren't bad. If I go to a Central American/South American type place here, I'll usually have beans and rice. What I will usually skip is any cheese or sour cream or any fried items. If it is good guacamole, I'll even eat some of that.

Portion control is also important when eating out so even if the meal isn't ideal, be sure to portion control it to save some of the calories.

02-24-2007, 01:27 AM
Another voice for not beating yourself up. Think of it as a learning opportunity.

And here's something my local cantina does -- I can substitute a salad for the beans and rice!!! :)

02-24-2007, 02:55 PM
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and encouragement. I did better last night. My bf insisted that we go to a very nice restaurant in our town to eat hamburgers last night (as a reward for him for finishing an important project). The burgers are a bit fancy--you can get rocquefort and foie gras and truffles on them if you want (I didn't, but, yum!). I ate really, really lightly during the day, and decided in advance that I would eat all my fries (why fight the inevitable?) but only half my burger. I think deciding in advance where to draw the line was important.

Tonight we've got a Thai dinner party at a friend's house. How on earth am I supposed to control my calories if we're eating out all the time???? Argh! Perhaps I should make a rule that I can fill my plate once, but not have seconds of anything. And eat slowly. And eat really lightly during the day.

Oy vey.

02-24-2007, 04:24 PM
I agree with everyone else... don't worry too much about the one bad meal. What I don't understand is how you manage to lose weight in a restaurant with such awesome sounding food?! That would be tortuous for me...
DH and I are going to dinner tonight with my folks, my bro and sis in law, and their kids. They narrowed it down to pizza or mexican. Great. So, now I'm in the same boat of not having much healthy to choose from. I know for a fact the Mexican restaurant they like (and is close by) doesn't serve whole beans. I'm sure their beans are refried. I will try to choose wisely!

02-24-2007, 04:45 PM
I agree with everyone else... don't worry too much about the one bad meal. What I don't understand is how you manage to lose weight in a restaurant with such awesome sounding food?! That would be tortuous for me...

Yeah, it's difficult not to snack constantly, especially when I don't have many tables to wait on. It doesn't help that the chef is a total beanpole and cannot imagine cooking anything without a pound of butter in it. (Last week I asked for a big salad with light dressing and some sauteed scallops for my dinner. The chef sauteed the scallops in butter, which I anticipated, but she also made a beurre blanc sauce with at least a half cup of butter and then *poured some of it over my salad*! I almost throttled her!)

The funny (ironic?) thing is that I've been working in this restaurant for a year and a half, regularly eating the chef's buttery dinners while I was maintaining my weight around 142-143. I didn't gain any weight at all until I took a few months off from waitressing to teach a college course and stopped eating this chef's food. That's when I gained about 15 pounds. I told her this and she is now convinced that butter is the secret to my being/becoming slim. When I tease her about her butter fetish reminds me that I never gained weight while eating her butter sauces. I think, actually, that spending 15-20 hours a week on feet, just walking around waiting tables was just enough activity to maintain my weight. The trouble started when I became completely sedentary with books and class prep.

Anyway, excuse the tangent.

02-24-2007, 04:49 PM
Living in Texas, we eat Mexican food quite a lot. If I'm alone, I'll order a taco salad with no sour cream and no cheese, have them put my guacamole on the side, and I ask them to bring me a carry out box with my meal. I box half immediately, then take the box out to my car, and THEN I sit down and eat. Sometimes I get weird looks, but I don't worry about it. If I take the box to my car IMMEDIATELY, I can't pick at it.

If it's a family meal, my mom and I will usually order either fajitas for two and forgo the cheese, sour cream and tortillas, or we split one order and each get a side salad.

I don't worry too much about it, since I KNOW without a doubt that the way I eat now is so much better than what it was in the past. Even if I splurge a little bit while eating out, I'm still healthier than I was before, and to me that's what really matters.