Have you tried Reverse Doggy Bagging? This easy strategy amps up the nutritional value of any restaurant meal. Wish restaurant fare were fair to your fibromyalgia waistline? Now it can be!
I’ve used this simple method for more than 15 years as I healed from fibromyalgia and chronic illness. I call this strategy, Reverse Doggy Bagging. And, don’t worry, there’s no dog required.
Make Restaurant Meals Healthy
This strategy takes just a split second of time to implement as you head out the door to your favorite restaurant.
Full disclosure —>it takes a split second at that time (which is important), but there’s a small bit of thought and prep involved beforehand.
More on that below.
The Saga of the Sad Salad
Has this ever happened to you? You decide on a delicious-looking salad from the menu, and by the time you order it without the candied nuts, cheese, dried fruits, sweetened dressing, and the chips/tortilla strips/fried noodles you’re left with … naked lettuce?
It’s sad. And, it’s embarrassing for the salad. Because it knows it could be so much more.
That’s where my remedy comes to the rescue.
The Crooked Path of Dining Out
In the past decade, I’ve shared that my healthy eating journey has taken a lot of dips and turns. And, some loop de loops. When it comes to eating more than I planned I’ve not just fallen off the wagon – I’ve fallen off a cliff.
Restaurants play a very unhealthy role in my journey and for many others who try their best to eat well.
Restaurant menus are full of tantalizing,
yet nutrient-deficient, landmines.
My husband loves Italian food. His favorite restaurant smells as if the scent of warm buttered fresh bread is pumped through the air vents. (Maybe they do.) My fat storage hormones probably kick into gear as the wafting smell greets me in the parking lot.
Restaurant foods are known to be low in nutrition and high in calories – especially empty-nutrient calories from unhealthy sources.
When I embarked on my health recovery journey, things weren’t as transparent when it comes to foods as they are now. Asking for the ingredients list or reading labels wasn’t common then.
In 2004 or so, I remember two restaurants challenging each other to sell the best-tasting turkey burger. That was the zenith of health food at the time. Each restaurant bragged about who had the top-seller. I asked a server at one restaurant why theirs was the best. She proudly squealed, “Maple syrup!” At my startled expression, she returned to our table with the actual packaging from their frozen turkey burgers. And, yep, they were loaded with artificial sugars (including versions of high fructose corn syrup) and fake maple flavorings. Blech. I mentioned that a single turkey burger contained more added sugar than a glass of full-sugared soda.
Well, no wonder it was tasty!
We know that restaurant chefs (and those who sit around restaurant boardroom tables) don’t have our nutritional interests at heart. They have two goals for their patrons – 1) Get them to buy more food at each visit, 2) Get them to come back often.
I’m not out to villainize the restaurant industry. I’m here to empower YOU to make choices that serve your personal health goals.
How Do You Make Restaurant Food Healthy?
Because restaurant foods are severely lacking in quality nutrients, it makes sense that nutrition must be added to them. Delete – where possible – the worst offenders of empty-nutrient, calorie-laden junk, and add the good stuff.
This occurred to me ages ago while sitting in a restaurant eating my sad, sad lettuce. I fantasized about all the good things in the fridge at home, wishing I were there instead.
But my hubby loves to dine out. And, I love my hubby.
So, I thought, “Why not bring what I want to the restaurant?”
Reverse Doggy Bagging was born.
The next time we went out, I brought along some chopped broccoli, shredded Brussels sprouts, and slivered raw almonds.
When I covertly removed a baggie of these items from my purse, I felt like a stealth spy crawling underneath a barbed wire fence. My fear? Getting caught.
I got over that.
Soon enough, I discovered that servers don’t really care. In fact, now, if a server even mentions anything at all (which is super rare), I offer this quip, “If I could find these lovely healthy options on the menu, I’d be happy to buy them here.”
I want to add fiber and antioxidant-rich polyphenols to my meals (think colorful veggies). I want healthy sources of protein, nuts, and seeds. I want high quality fats and oils. And when this strategy becomes a habit (both at home and on-the-go), I get what I want!
The Two Second Prep
As I’ve mentioned, I grab quick-to-go veggies from my fridge before I head out.
Here’s the vital backstory to that. Foods need to be prepped and bagged in advance.
This means, when I get home from the grocery store, I wash and chop (or shred or whatever) the veggies and foods I eat the most. Once bagged, they’re convenient to add to my meals at home AND ready to go for restaurant meals.
Here’s an unsavory truth I’ve discovered for myself and from my clients: If they’re not ready to grab … we won’t.
So — make it easy on yourself. Make them easy to grab. Make this strategy a no-brainer.
Over-thinking creates a stumbling block.
The moment you’re headed out the door to dine out is NOT the time to chop or bag what you want to take. Take a few minutes to do this in advance, and your body will thank you.
Peeking Inside My Reverse Doggy Bags
What kind of things do I bring to restaurants?
I think you’ll be surprised.
And, it’s not just for salads.
In MY NEXT POST, I share the types of things I usually bring in my purse. Grab these food lists! Included on these lists are some of the common – and uncommon things I’ve brought. And, I’ll share how this method supports me nutritionally on weekend outings and while traveling.
(Or, continuing with the dog theme here, Bone Appetite!)