Skinny Daily Post


Maybe it’s spring fever or something, but I’ve found myself envying all those people who go out to lunch during their workday. Whether they’re off to a deli, or a nice restaurant, or a salad bar at a grocery store, I’ve found myself envying the fact that they get to make a spur-of-the-moment choice. They can have pretty much whatever their mood dictates.

And I stay behind with my packed-from-home lunch, stuck with whatever choices I made at 7 am.

At first glance, this didn’t seem fair, and I was starting to feel sorry for myself.

But then, something shook me awake. Thank goodness! While they can follow their mood at the moment, let’s just think for a moment how much trouble we can get into by ‘eating the mood.’

And portion control. Meals eaten outside the home [or lunch bag!] are at the mercy of whatever the owner/chef/cook deems ‘a serving.’ We all know where that can lead. And no matter what we say about preparation [no butter, no salt, whatever], how much control do we really have over it? Salad bars offer the hope of portion and prep control, but how often do we eat with our eyes, and end up loading on things that maybe aren’t the best choices?

I know what’s in my packed lunch. I know how much food is in there. I know everything about it. And that’s not all bad.

So, I’m happy to say that the lunch envy moments passed fairly quickly. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think at some point in the next week, I’m going to grab a friend and go to a local deli for their 1/2 sandwich special. Everyone deserves to have something different once in a while. But, it’ll be at a place that I KNOW. I KNOW what they do, and how they prepare the food. I KNOW the amount of meat that’ll be on the sandwich.

In short, KNOWING is better than eating the mood. And there’s absolutely no need to be suffering. Yesterday’s lunch – which was when this hit – was a beautiful salad of mesclun, red peppers, buffalo chicken, bleu cheese and balsamic dressing. Today’s was a piece of chicken with a couple of tiny roasted new potatoes and roasted asparagus.

No suffering. No eating the mood.

11 thoughts on “Going out to lunch

  1. Alex says:

    I completely sympathize with you. Most days I work from home. I pack the kitchen with healthy snacks…but I envy the vending machines I see when I work onsite somewhere. I have healty food in the kitchen, but envy friends who eat out lunch. So I make a choice to eat lunch with the boys at school both once a month and then with a friend from church once a month…so at least 3 times a month I eat out and make the best choice I can. We also eat out after church on Sunday’s, but I normall stick to the salad bar.

  2. cindy says:

    Hi Jane,
    Yes, I suffer from the “Out to lunch crowd” envy, as well…until I realize (or remind myself) that I really have learned to prefer my own cooking, most of the time. This week, for example, I have two batches of wonderful soup to alternate between—portugese kale soup (made with spicy suasages) and butternut/red lentil soup (my best butternut variation to date). The other thing I do is remind myself that all the healthy choices I make during the week allows me the ability to eat out with friends on the week-ends. I have to be good so I can splurge. It used to be that my life was all “splurge” and therefore I didn’t really appreciate it. Now, when I go out, I savour it and make it worth my time, money and experience. I ENJOY every moment. I get what I love, because why bother eating anything if I’m not going to enjoy it?! And I very much enjoy my own cooking, so it falls in this category, as well. If I am going to eat anything, it is going to be delicious. So I splurge on high quality, fresh produce, good cuts of meat or fish (since my portions are so much smaller, it works out fairly well…). Your luches sound lovely, too. I bet you have more than one co-worker who is envious of your “bag lunch” and wishes she/he didn’t have to go to the deli “again.”
    So, kale soup is on for tomorrow, along with a hard-boiled egg and a yummy apple for my afternoon break, since I don’t get home until quite late on Wednesdays and I need to fend off the munchies. I love having a plan and I feel safe and relaxed knowing right now that tomorrow’s choices are ready and waiting—and yummy choices they are, too! Thanks for the reminder and the help putting envy in its place…

  3. Mj says:

    Jane, I just got back from a three-night road trip with lots of driving in bad weather and LOTS of opportunities to “eat the mood” (or “FEED the mood”, especially after a four-hour drive turned into a SIX-hour nightmare in the dark, in “wintry mix.” In a normal week, I regularly (as in just about daily) purchase my lunch. And after a really weird experience with a buttermilk pancake last Saturday, my choice to stay away from refined sugar/white flour foods has been reinforced.

    I weighed in at Monday night’s WW meeting down 3.4# – a two-week number since the road trip took me away from last week’s meeting opportunities.

    What “did” it? I am developing a whole different mindset, a Take Care of Mj Mindset, that caused me to look at every menu, every breakfast buffet, every fast-food signboard NOT with the idea of “what’s fast and convenient and I can eat and run” but “what’s healthy.”

    Long may this mindset last.

  4. Traci says:

    It just goes to show you that the grass is always greener on the other side! You probably have people in your office jealous of your homemade lunch who are sick and tired of eating take-out everyday.

    My husband and I bring breakfast to work everyday and go home for lunch. Eating out isn’t an option most of the time, but a couple of times a month we go on a “date” and go eat somewhere great. We try to make mostly healthy choices and we always bring home as much as we eat. We’ve always enjoyed food and I think it’s a reward system that works for us.

  5. Cathy says:

    On the contrary, I feel sorry for the people who eat in the cafeteria or out at restaurants for lunch each day. As you said, they are eating incorrect portions (unless they eat half and bring the bag home), as well as way too much salt, oil and butter (depending on what they order). To me going out to lunch, and dinner, is a treat that I enjoy only once in a while and I don’t always choose wisely. But I don’t have to, because I don’t do it all the time. We who prepare our own lunch are actually the lucky ones!!

  6. Barbara says:

    Yesterday I had such a choice to make as you are describing. I was driving a long distance for work, took good healthy snacks for the car, but I also PLANNED to stop at a restaurant for take-out that I knew I could eat (while driving 🙂 YIKES!) But was the correct portion of chicken that is prepared well. What I was really happy about is that I made the CHOICE to not eat the 2 cups of white rice that come with the lunch and instead stopped and threw it away. I did eat the small cabbage salad. I know this sounds wasteful, but I would rather not put that in my body. Sometimes I just have to say no to certain things. I wanted it badly, but I just knew it was best to stick with the chicken and salad and eat an apple.

    I have noticed that in my mind when I see a fast food place now that my mind will immediately say, “NO!! It’s not good for you!!” It’s a matter of retraining this brain and body. I’m listening.

  7. marisa says:

    Cindy, Would you be willing to post the recipe for your butternut/red lentil soup? It sounds wonderful.

    I made a conscious decision not to eat out so much with my family. Although it is a treat for me not to have to cook or clean up, the tradeoffs are really not worth it. Even the most expensive foods I buy (e.g., fresh tuna at $17/pound) end up costing less than a mediocre meal from Applebee’s (hot dog for one son, hamburger for the other, dismal salad for me, badly cooked entree for my husband).

  8. Deirdre says:

    Eating without planning is exactly what got most of us into trouble in the first place. There are worse things than living with carefully planned food choices.

  9. Pat says:

    Well your lunches sounded very good Jane.
    Just one question, I’m the other side of “The Pond” and I’ve never heard of mesclun.
    What is it?

  10. Jane says:

    mesclun – it’s a mixture of baby greens, and often includes arugula and beet greens. i get it in a bag, and grab a couple of handsful. wonderful stuff! all dark and flavorful with lots of texture.

    and, for those of us who were VERY interested in Cindy’s soup recipes – i’ve asked her to share! how could she say no to us?

  11. Southamerican Slimmer says:

    I seem to be a lone voice here, but living in a country where you can eat out extremely cheaply I eat lunch out daily, and often dinner too – including at an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet (lots of healthy low-fat choices and you control the portion). It means that I can eat a range of fresh vegetables that would be difficult for me to get hold of in good condition (good, fresh veggies are hard to find here for many reasons). It means also that I have to spend less time in the kitchen, buying, preparing, washing up and generally thinking about food and, for me, that works. Most places here offer a lean steak or grilled chicken without skin, with steamed veggies or salad (you add your own dressing at the table) and I share a single portion with my husband with maybe a wholemeal roll and an espresso afterwards. I also find it really useful to have set mealtimes. When Ive finished my meal and left the restaurant, thats it. If Im hungry between meals, the only things at home to eat are healthy snacks like fruit. Im never at home with a full fridge. The single chocolate or matchbox-sized sample of cake which they bring you here with your coffee is also really helpful to me – knowing that that tiny sweet is coming at the end of lunch or dinner stops me from wanting to order dessert or snack on sweet things between meals. The one meal I dont eat out is breakfast, which, here in Argentina, is invariably croissants or toasted ham and cheese sandwiches – I prefer to have my own healthy breakfast of yoghurt and oats at home. It just shows, I suppose, that different people have different diet strategies.

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