Preparing For Restaurant Eating

Thursday night Michael, his friend Jeremy and I met Michael’s family downtown for his belated birthday dinner. Michael was craving lasagna–that was his only request. So I made reservations at Mama Mia Trattoria for 7 of us.

I wanted to go into the restaurant prepared. I spent some time looking at their online menu and decided what I would order. My biggest pitfall in restaurant eating is not being prepared when I go in and getting overwhelmed with all the yummy food options on the menu. My eyes get bigger than my stomach and my willpower falters.

This time I was smart: I picked 3 entrees I was interested and Googled the calories (estimated) to see which would be the healthier choice. I finally settled on the Eggplant Parmesan and was super excited about eating it.

I ordered a glass of red wine: Frescobaldi, β€œRΓ¨mole” Sangiovese-Cabernet, Toscana, 2008. It was a lovely, crisp red.

The second part of my Restaurant Fails is the bread basket. It’s so hard to resist it for some reason. I ate a few pieces of the bread.

The third part of my Restaurant Fails is the serving sizes. This time I had a plan: when I ordered my dinner I’d ask the waitress to bring a To-Go box so I could immediately put half the serving in there to make sure I was only eating one serving.

Birthday Boy!


We arrived at the restaurant and it was still happy hour so our plans changed a bit. We got a table for 7 of us and I looked at the happy hour menu. It was different than the website. I didn’t panic–I zeroed in on what I thought was the healthier option:

LOSTA THE PASTA LASAGNA: pasta-free baked lasagna layered with sliced eggplant, ground beef, tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella & parmesan cheeses

It seemed healthy to me because there was no pasta and the eggplant was good. It was almost like Eggplant Parm. I tried to order that but the waitress said they had no eggplant because of the weather all the crops froze.


Second choice: Lasagna of the day. It was lasagna with white sauce, Painted Hills ground beef, Carlton Farms pork, veal, vegetables like carrots and celery, and cheese. I ordered a Caesar salad to start. It was really small, which was perfect.

I asked the waitress for a box and she said they didn’t do that for Happy Hour. Uh Oh! A little panic but I knew I could be strong. Luckily, the lasagna came out in a proper serving size! Since it was happy hour portions I didn’t have to feel guilty about eating all of it.

It was so good! I think there was egg in it too. It was light and fluffy and the veggies inside were a nice surprise. Delicious!

Since it was Michael’s birthday they brought him a piece of the Amaretto Cheesecake! We all passed it around and took a bite (so I had about three bites of cheesecake–the perfect amount). It was creamy cheesecake with an almond biscotti crust that flaked at the touch of a fork. It was served with caramel sauce and candied almonds.

It was to die for! It was a good night and it was nice to spend time with everyone. I feel like last night’s restaurant experience was a positive for me. I may have gone over my calories for the day BUT I did eat proper serving sizes, enjoyed some wine and a few bites of dessert. I say that’s a win!

QUESTION: How do you prepare for restaurant eating? Are you successful?

17 Responses

  1. I just came across your blog the other day – you are a total inspiration to me!!

    I am so impressed with your ability to just roll with whatever was going on, and still make smart choices. I’m such an all-or-nothing girl, I’d have used the change in plans as an excuse to just eat whatever….

    1. Thanks for reading, Gemma!

      It was a learning process for me to figure out how to be more flexible and not just say “eff it I’ll eat whatever I want.” Having come so far, I’m reluctant to just go hog-wild.

  2. I’ve never thought to estimate calories if the website doesn’t offer nutritional information. I am going to try that next time I go out.

    I hate asking for a to go box up front. I feel so weird about that. I just don’t know how to get over it.

    1. I felt super weird asking for a box. If it was just Michael and me I wouldn’t but it was his family too. It was awkward but I was determined to eat a portion only –not a restaurant double portion! It turned out to not be an issue.

      1. why in the world would they not give you a box? seems like an odd response from a restaurant. I guess next time you have to bring your own tupperware! πŸ™‚

          1. But why would it make a difference if it was happy hour or not is what confuses me. Too busy to stop and get a box or do they feel their portions aren’t big enough to warrant a take home box? Would they rather see the food wasted? Curious!

          2. I think the reason is more financial. They don’t want people coming in, buying a bunch of $1-3 dollar items and taking them home. They want people to stay in the bar, order more food and more drinks, spend more money.

  3. I’m pretty sure if I could remove the phrase “eff it” from my mental vocabulary I would be a lot thinner by now πŸ™‚ I’m like Gemma…if anything changes, different restaurant, bar seating only, whatever, I used it as an excuse to go hog-wild.

    1. It is very easy to be derailed. But I went in there last night with a plan. And I’m such a weirdo that once there’s a “Plan” I can stick to it. I don’t really deviate.

  4. I think you did great, but I have to agree with Michelle on the box thing. What if you suddenly weren’t feeling well and wanted to take it home? Unless the menu says that Happy Hour food is not available for take-out, I just don’t get it. Not jumping on you at all, but there are just so many instances where a customer might require a box that her argument is just absurd.

    1. I can see both points. It wasn’t a big deal either way because the happy hour size was a proper portion. But yeah it would be nice to be able to take it home if I wanted to.

  5. Greetings from China!!!!!

    Lisa ,Ni Hao

    Love your blog and your attitude of life! It inspired me a lot. I’ll come visit you frequently.

    I love sports. Yoga, Pilates, Climbing,Badminton..etc. Just can’t live a day without sports — Not very usual in China , LOL. Juts start to like swimming recently, and i’m sure i’ll find a lot of valuable info from your web.

    All that I want now is to lose 5kg and keep healthy:)

    Jia You!!!! (come on)

  6. I used to occasionally get really frustrated in restaurants because they seemed to have everything drenched in butter, cream and oil. Once I had a baby fit because the only sides for a sandwich I wanted were fries or potato salad and the refused to sub a green salad. Not my proudest moment. But now I have been marathon training (like forever) and I try to work restaurant meals into long run days and pretty much have anything. I still occasionally get in a snit…recently I had a salad at lunch and I couldn’t believe how small it was. I like a great pile of greens and lots of veggies. I am hating this eggplant shortage! I had to buy Japanese eggplant at $7.99 a pound because I was making a veg curry for my book club and didn’t want to change my plans. It was the only eggplant in town. πŸ™

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