General chatter - Free food for a month - Would you eat healthy or take advantage?




FreeBird3
04-17-2011, 11:42 AM
I'm on a business trip right now. It is a 1 month assignment and he client is paying for everything (lodging, rental car, food). I am 2 weeks into the assignment and I am ashamed to admit that I've taken advantage of the "free food" pass by eating whatever I want in the restaurants, which is usually the tasty/bad stuff. I've been getting my meals from TGIFs, Champs, any pretty much all the major restaurant chains within the area.

I usually do not get assigned out-of-state business assignments where the client pays for everything, so part of me feels like I should take full advantage of all the perks.

If you were in my position, where you had to eat out everyday for 1 month and all the food was paid for, then what would you order from restaurants? Would you splurge?

I just love the new freedom I have about not having to think twice on the cost of a meal. I enjoy the freedom of being allowed to have whatever I want without worrying about money for once in my life. I am tired of eating out though. I miss a home-cooked meal. I can't wait to come home in a couple of weeks.


lizziep
04-17-2011, 11:54 AM
wow that would be very very tempting. i'm sure if it were me, and we are being honest here, i'd be pigging out the first week or two- then get sick of it. after a while of eating food like that i find that i just don't feel well - i'm always kinda tired and always kinda have a stomach ache.
it's also hard because most of the big chain restaurants while they do serve some sort of diet friendly foods, the choices aren't exactly delicious. applebees under 500 stuff- i did not like anything i tasted. plus in order for me to tolerate being there i need a darn drink! :) red robin, too many temptations. i think you could probably make some good choices at outback steakhouse, or any of those. or with thai food, not so much chinese food though. there's always sushi, teppanaki places, sandwich shops.
but - **** yes i'd be taking advantage of that! :)

ddc
04-17-2011, 12:28 PM
I would try to eat as healthy as possible--cause my jeans are too darn tight already!!


Shytowngal
04-17-2011, 12:47 PM
I'm in this situation often. The GREAT thing is you can splurge on expensive healthy stuff. Lobster, shrimp cocktail, lean cuts of meat. The other thing is that clients really do appreciate it when you are a bit frugal. Throw in a couple days of subway salads, grilled chicken (no mayo) from mcdonalds...

joyfulloser
04-17-2011, 12:53 PM
I'd order the lobster!:D Seriously though...fatty, calorie dense foods are CHEAP (i.e. Mickey Dees, Applebees, TGI Fridays, etc.)...

That is why that type of food is most readily available to people who live below the poverty levels.:(

Actually...it's the HIGH QUALITY, low fat, nutrient dense foods that most just simply cannot afford.

Don't sell yourself short by gorging in cheap foods, like cake, cookies, icecream and fried foods...go for something quality (if this is allowed by your client), and seriously...order the Lobster/Filet Mignon. Perhaps a nice dessert (flan, gourmet cheesecake, etc.) would be in order. Bon Appetit!:D

FreeBird3
04-17-2011, 12:53 PM
I would try to eat as healthy as possible--cause my jeans are too darn tight already!!


LOL - I guess my will power isn't as strong as yours. :) I do select salads half the time when going out for dinner, but I know they aren't healthy choices either. Oh well, I guess I'll end up coming home with more weight to lose. :o

sacha
04-17-2011, 12:56 PM
Well, first I have to admit honestly that what I should do and what I would do may be two different things if faced with the same circumstance.

However,

There's a difference between taking advantage of an opportunity and using it as an excuse to eat unhealthy. It's using it as a license. The truth is that there are many healthier choices that you can make, that are also a splurge. Whether or not you choose those options is your decision to make. This is a lifelong journey and eating unhealthy food for a month straight will not only prevent weight loss/pack on more pounds, but will mentally set you back. Part of the journey is learning that eating unhealthy on a frequent basis is not something to view as a 'reward/indulgence', but that it is detrimental to your health, physically (obvious weight gain/poor nutrition) but mentally (a setback in goals) too.

So when you go out, feel free to enjoy (we often experience this too with my husband's job), but make better choices - seafood is often the most expensive thing on the menu but one of the better choices. It's okay to choose salad instead of fries. It's okay to not order dessert.

Give yourself permission to take advantage of no dishes, no cleanup, and better health. Give yourself permission to buy that $20 salmon fillet with no butter and a side salad - you might think it's not worth it's value if it came out of your pocket, but it's not your pocket :o

JessLess
04-17-2011, 01:23 PM
I'd use it as an excuse to eat killer salads and seafood. I don't feel good at all if I eat off plan any more, and traveling is a challenge, but it can be done. If I can do it, you can too.

nelie
04-17-2011, 01:46 PM
I travel off and on for work and I eat fairly healthy when I do. I make sure I have a fridge in my hotel room and will prepare some healthy meals in the hotel when I can. Eating out is a nice novelty until about day 5 when I'm ready to go home and back to my own kitchen.

seagirl
04-17-2011, 02:23 PM
I'd eat sushi for dinner, probably buy some oatmeal or toast and almond butter for breakfasts, and then have light lunches from a nice place that served local meats and veggies.

Chain restaurants don't appeal to me at all.

Flamethrower
04-17-2011, 03:21 PM
I would take advantage in that I'd buy all the expensive organic food I wanted xD

AZ Sunrises
04-17-2011, 03:31 PM
When I'm out of town, I always eat at the local dives vs. a chain restaurant. I can go to Round Robin anywhere, but there's only one of Berkeley's Homemade Cafe or SF's Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Local dives are always willing to tweak something in the meal to make it what you really want.

Using the Bay Area (again) as an example, I'd be on plan most of the time, but I'd plan on a greasy disgusting meal from Grubstake in SF. <drool>

stellarwbz
04-17-2011, 08:55 PM
I would get all the healthy stuff because that is usually what cost the most. I can get cheap bad for you food anytime lol

Prism21
04-18-2011, 01:02 AM
Oh man, this is so tempting because I am one of those people that will eat, overeat and eat more at a buffet just to get my money's worth (or so I think!)

But right now, after being on this weight loss journey, I would hate to ruin 6 months of progress in 1 month because let's face it, that could easily happen. Maybe try and order healthy options and once or twice a week, order whatever you feel like.

icedragon6669
04-18-2011, 01:14 AM
Waste or waist.

You think its a free meal, but what is the real cost, not the $$$ but physically.

I would try to enjoy the food but within healthy limits, as you are only harming yourself in the end and all for the sake of free food. It still has a cost in the end.

You know I used to go to parties thinking oh what the ****, its free, might as well enjoy it.. but you know that was me the morbidly obese very unhappy person :(, no wonder I stayed that way for 10 years as now I have a totally different mindset.

Morethananumber
04-18-2011, 01:36 AM
could you maybe split the meal(s) with someone? That way IF you ate unhealthy, you could share and not have such a big helping. Otherwise, eat good portions.

Prism21
04-18-2011, 01:54 AM
Great post!!!!!
I attended a party today with my kids and the food was endless and all stuff I love! PIZZA, hot wings, cake, cupcakes and ice cream.... but I focused on and nibbled off the veggie platter and allowed myself 1 cupcake since I was able to work it into my plan. After all of the food was picked up off the table, I realized I was actually hungry and pulled out my Kashi bar and gave myself a pat on the back for not going crazy!


Waste or waist.

You think its a free meal, but what is the real cost, not the $$$ but physically.

I would try to enjoy the food but within healthy limits, as you are only harming yourself in the end and all for the sake of free food. It still has a cost in the end.

You know I used to go to parties thinking oh what the ****, its free, might as well enjoy it.. but you know that was me the morbidly obese very unhappy person :(, no wonder I stayed that way for 10 years as now I have a totally different mindset.

mandalinn82
04-18-2011, 02:21 AM
I end up at client sites, on their dime, fairly often...usually for a week at a time. But a week or a month, I stick to my plan for a few reasons.

They all love me, because I'm cheap - mostly I go to grocery stores and get myself real food for breakfasts and sometimes dinners (I am a master at making a healthy meal using only the refrigerator/microwave in a hotel room). I usually do one "out" meal (it's actually usually room service, but it's the biggest bill from my trip), with indulgences on healthy things...shrimp cocktail, a nice reasonable-sized filet mignon, maybe one glass of wine and some veggies on the side.

The way I see it - they didn't fly me out there to feed me, they flew me out there to work. And if I eat heavy foods and gorge myself, and don't exercise, I end up in a major state of brain fog - and that isn't what they're paying me for. I can easily slip into a major sugar and caffeine binge/crash cycle, and that's not good for my productivity. Neither are the stomach issues that inevitable result from gorging myself. This isn't vacation. It's work time, and it's my job to be on my game. That means being healthy.

Also, I see nice meals and indulgent food as something you share with family and friends...frankly, eating in a nice restaurant by myself is sort of depressing, and I'm usually really stressed and busy keeping up with work...and those both keep me from enjoying the rich food. If I'm not even ENJOYING it, why would I waste the calories? And what everyone else said is true - I get SICK of heavy restaurant food pretty quickly. I actually like my hotel-room-cooked dinners so much more (really! One of my favorite things is to take a microwave a baked potato, top with some deli chicken chili or shredded rotisserie chicken, broccoli steamed in the microwave, a little cheese, some light sour cream...soooo good, and it's homey, has plenty of veggies in it). For both of the above reasons, I'm a heck of a lot more likely to indulge on an ACTUAL vacation than a work trip.

Which is not to say I don't thoroughly enjoy myself when on business travel, as much as I can. I find healthy spots that I love and can only get when I see that client (like the amazing bbq place with grilled corn and asparagus on the way from the office to the standard hotel in LA, or this great chain that I don't have locally with calorie-controlled pasta options in MN, etc). I have food I look forward to wherever I go. I take full advantage of all of the fun equipment in the hotel gym that I don't have in my home gym. I read trashy magazines I don't allow myself at home in a bubble bath and watch TV, which I don't have as much time to do the rest of the time. I go for walks/hikes/jogs in areas I don't get to see in my regular life.

So out of respect for my clients (remember, they're paying to have me there, mentally alert and focused), and for myself and my health, I do stick to healthy options. Anything less would be cheating the people who pay me out of the best work I can do, and cheating myself out of health.

indiblue
04-18-2011, 02:39 AM
Are you able to request the client provide you a per diem instead of paying for each itemized meal? If you are, come up with a per diem (perhaps the US Government rate) that will actually be cheaper for them than an expensive meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In this way you'll have every incentive to take that money to go grocery shopping for fruit and hummus instead of feeling like splurging every night. Plus you may end up with a bit of leftover cash in your pocket at the end of the trip :)

May not be possible depending on their internal financial policies but it couldn't hurt to ask.

Ekicna
04-18-2011, 02:51 AM
I would eat healthy. That's what I normally do regardless of whether I am eating in or out.

ArcticFrogs
04-18-2011, 05:53 AM
Being in your situation would make me incredibly self-conscious, and that's before taking weight loss into consideration.

I'm not trying to be rude or critical, but I can't imagine seeing that as an excuse to eat differently, especially where expense is concerned. Someone else is paying for something on your behalf - that's a perk of your job, sure, but I still believe that the client deserves some respect. Mandalinn has already touched on a few points in that light.

You need to respect yourself, also. Nothing is free; your body will still have to face the repercussions of what you do now once you return to your regular lifestyle. Why make more work for yourself in the long run?

This isn't to say that you must be perfect or superhuman - you are in a different place, out of your normal routines and comfort zones. Sometimes, things don't go as expected.

Still, you need to find the middle ground. Have a couple of more "luxurious" meals when you can enjoy them the most, but try to eat more normally for the remainder of your trip. Have fun with it (maybe try new things that you wouldn't normally buy, but aren't necessarily expensive?), but try to remember that even if it isn't costing you anything financially (it is costing someone, accepted business arrangement or not), it is costing you progress/time.

What is more valuable?

nelie
04-18-2011, 07:15 AM
Are you able to request the client provide you a per diem instead of paying for each itemized meal? If you are, come up with a per diem (perhaps the US Government rate) that will actually be cheaper for them than an expensive meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In this way you'll have every incentive to take that money to go grocery shopping for fruit and hummus instead of feeling like splurging every night. Plus you may end up with a bit of leftover cash in your pocket at the end of the trip :)

May not be possible depending on their internal financial policies but it couldn't hurt to ask.

I know some companies do straight per diem which means they give you basically a set amount of food allowance per day and it is up to you to feed yourself on that budget. So if you spend lightly, you can pocket the cash.

I know someone who buys peanut butter, bread and fruit whenever they go on a business trip and they basically eat that for breakfast and dinner.

On my last business trip, catered breakfast and lunch was provided but other than fresh fruit, I didn't eat it. I brought in my own lunch from the grocery store. I took advantage of trying 1 new restaurant I had heard about in the area and my dinners were at one of my favorite restaurants, Sweet Tomatoes :) ( it is a salad bar chain)

caryesings
04-18-2011, 09:18 AM
Well, I can offer a cautionary tale. In the first 18 months of a travel job where all weekday meals were fast food or restaurant on the company tab, I gained 100 lbs. Carried around that extra 100 for the next 20 years. I somehow thought it would melt away as soon as I quit that job. It didn't. It was a ton of work to get it off.

JenMusic
04-18-2011, 10:01 AM
I'm with the PP who mentioned the "real cost" of food. There is, unfortunately, no such thing as free food. It comes out of someone's wallet (the $ cost) and the calories get used - or stored - by my body (the energy/weight cost).

As tempting as it would be to throw caution to the wind in this situation, I'm afraid that my body wouldn't understand that these "free" calories aren't supposed to count! ;)

krampus
04-18-2011, 10:06 AM
I can't shake feeling weird and slightly guilty about having things paid for, even if it's a date or my mom or the company picking up the check. That being said, I would probably do exactly what mandalinn and nelie do - keep up healthy habits while paying attention to local places of interest. I hate eating out by myself.

Chubbykins
04-18-2011, 11:26 AM
Like Miss Coco said in her immense wisdom: "Once in the mouth, always in the hips" hehe

bargoo
04-18-2011, 11:45 AM
You can eat healthy, nutritious foods when the boss is paying for it. Their are plenty of choices in restaurants. Lean meat, chicken or fish and vegies . Skip the desert. I have eaten on an expense account. I had no problem eating a healthy diet and no one in accounting thought I was a jerk for eating the most expensive meals.