Mediterranean Mac and Cheese from S'MAC
It turns out New Yorkers eat out a lot. And by a lot, I mean all the time. Many of my clients don't actually cook, and a good number of them live by dining out, ordering in, and popping frozen meals in the microwave. So how can one dine on the many delights of restaurant food without gaining weight? That's a tough question, and not something easily mastered. If it were, I would probably be a couple of pounds lighter, and so would my clients.
However, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and have learned some from my clients as well. Tonight I dined at S'MAC, an AMAZING mac and cheese place in the East Village. I know I know, mac and cheese...not exactly healthy fare, right? But when I learned that they have gluten-free mac and cheese, I had to go, healthy or not. And boy was it worth it. My mac had goat cheese, sauteed spinach, kalamata olives, and roasted garlic. Is your mouth watering yet? I didn't feel at all like I was eating something "gluten-free." I was just eating something sinfully delicious.
But knowing I was splurging that night, I ate light the rest of the day, left some on my plate to take home for the next day (and by the way, the small "nosh" plate is plenty! I got the major munch and there was no way I could finish it!), and brushed my teeth the second I walked in the door. Which was a good thing because even now I'm craving seconds, but I hate brushing my teeth so there's no way I'm going to eat and then have to brush them again. You see? That's trick #8. It works for me every time.
So here are a couple of tricks to keep your pants fitting right, even when you're eating out every night.
- Don't starve yourself all day. If you know you're going out for dinner, you can eat lighter throughout the day, but eat steadily so you don't get too hungry. Saving all your calories for dinner doesn't work; it just slows down your metabolism.
- Have a snack of veggies or fruit before you go to the restaurant. If you're not as hungry, you'll be more likely to make smart choices and eat smaller portions.
- Start with a broth based soup or salad. According to Dr. Barbara Rolls, people who start their meals with one of these options end up eating fewer calories overall.
- Try to limit your carbs (bread, pasta, potatoes, peas, corn, rice, etc.) to about the size of a small fist. More than anything else, those carbs will go straight to your waist.
- If the restaurant has a menu online, decide what you're going to order before you get there. That way you don't even have to open the menu and be tempted by all the other options.
- Try asking for a bread plate with your meal. Fill that plate to eat off of and take the rest home.
- One restaurant meal can feed you for a couple of days. Whenever I get my favorite thai noodle dish, I try to fill up on the vegetables and just eat a few of the noodles. Then I take them home, saute up a bunch more vegetables and turn that into lunch for the next two days.
- Brush your teeth as soon as you get home. After a dinner out, you aren't going to need a nighttime snack, but that won't stop you from wanting one.