>Who’s in charge here, me — or the menu?

>There are people who enjoy making charts, counting calories, and weighing and measuring, and generally tracking everything they are going to eat.

It doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work at potlucks, at other people’s houses, or in most restaurants. It doesn’t work because I don’t like a way of eating that makes a fuss or calls attention to me.

To my way of thinking, the American way of eating (out) is so far removed from what’s good or recommended that it feels almost ludicrous to count and measure and nickle-and-dime it (“Let’s see, I can have one-fourth of the bacon cheeseburger, with three french fries…”). So I’ve found that I need whole new strategies to deal with eating out.

Currently, I’m playing around with these three:

1. The 1-in-9 strategy. Eat eight healthy, low-fat, high-fiber, yada-yada, meals at home or at your desk and get one meal out in High-calorie Land. And enjoy it.

2. The half-of-what’s-on-the-plate strategy. This works particularly well with American breakfasts. Order the standard bacon-eggs-toast breakfast and eat half of it. This also works well with “one-dish” types of meals such as pasta dinners and sandwich lunches, where you can get a doggy bag and take the rest home. And it’s also a life-saver when you’re on vacation and none of the menus are within your control so the 1-in-9 strategy can’t be applied.

3. The two-appetizer dinner plan. This is for elaborate multi-course meals in special restaurants where everything looks delicious and, of course, you aren’t going to sit there and nibble the boring Caesar salad while everyone else vacuums up the trout meuniere or fettucine quattro formaggio. Quite often much of what appears on the dinner menu, surrounded by potatoes, rice, sauces, etc., is available in a smaller, less starchy, version as an appetizer. So when everyone else orders an appetizer and a main course, you can order two appetizers, having the second as your main course.

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