Monday, February 15, 2010

Portion Control and Making Healthy Choices

Last week, we went to Chevy’s with my mom. It’s a tradition that we go to Chevy’s whenever she visits us. In the past, I had a really hard time to control my portions at Chevy’s since I love chips and salsa and used to eat way too many chips in one sitting. Their chips are warm, and I love the fire-roasted tomatoes in the salsa. Also, sometimes the salsa is nice and spicy, just the way I like it.

Chevys 01

Last week, I made a few good choices and a few not so good choices when we went to Chevy’s. First the not so good choices:
  • I didn’t look up the nutrition facts for various menu items before we went to the restaurant.
  • I ordered a Chile Verde Bowl from the lunch menu, which I later found out contained 1,030 calories, 44 grams of fat, and 2510 grams of sodium!!!! There are many worse items on the menu but also several much better choices. If I had looked at the menu before we went (which I usually do), I could have made a much better choice.
Chevys 02

Despite choosing a not very healthy entree, I actually made some good choices:
  • I passed on the chips and salsa and instead ate some of the salsa with my entree – I am very proud of not eating any chips! :-)
  • I took off the sour cream as soon as I got my dish as I figured I didn't need the extra fat. Instead I added some flavor with some salsa.
  • I ate less than half my entree and got the rest to go. I had some of it later that night, and the remainder the following morning.
  • I left the restaurant feeling satisfied but not stuffed.
Questions: Do you look up nutrition information before you eat out (if it’s available)? Do you decide on what you’ll order before you enter a restaurant? Do you tend to get “carried away” by the menu? Do you have any eating out strategies you’d like to share?
Be well,


  1. Andrea- Great post!

    I think your good choices WAY outweighed the bad!

    I almost never look up the nutritional info at restaurants (for myself)...Now, often at work, I'll look up things I'm curious about, but personally, I don't do it that often.

    I do however, do many of the things you mentioned....I purposefully eat slowly. I generally choose "healthier" items on the menus...I usually expect to leave at least half on my plate...That way...your 1000 calorie meal really isn't too bad when you only eat half. AND, the most important...exactly what you said- leave "satisfied" not "stuffed".

    Great post! Have a great week!

  2. I recently went to Chevy's and did the exact same thing! Passed on the chips but had no idea about the nutrition facts when I went to order. I am used to the restaurants providing them for you nowadays, I guess. I ordered a salad, went to look it up online when I got home, and since it was a "NEW!" salad, the facts weren't online yet :(

    Still, I am glad you enjoyed your Chevy's experience and continued a fun tradition with your mom! :)

  3. So when you consider that you had three portions out of the bowl, the per serving hit is much more in line with your personal goals and you still had a very tasty entree.

  4. I try to steer clear of eating out solely based on the fact that I mindlessly eat and could easily chow down on a 1000 calorie meal! I know once I get my portion controls under control it will be easier..but for now I will just have to pass (and it saves the checkbook!)

  5. Yes I try to look up the nutritional stats before heading to a restaurant. Nice job passing on the chips... it's so hard sometimes, plus Chevy's chips are SOOO good.

    My tip is to separate my meal in half right away (if it's a large meal). That way I know how much I should be eating and then can take the rest home later.

  6. When I'm in the zone, I always look up nutritional information before I go to the restaurant and choose what I am going to eat before I get there. I always "look" at the menu anyway because I hate to be obvious about the fact that I have Pre-Decided. I just find the conversation a bit embarrasing.

  7. strategy: there will always be more. we will never starve. we can always go there again. we dont have to order/eat everything on the menu. moderation. enjoy what you have and dont feel the need to have everything, that's my .02 :)

  8. Anonymous2/15/2010

    I look up menus- I don't often go to chain restaurants so can't get nutritional info. Which isn't a bad thing... I don't eat out often so I figure it's fine now and again to live it up a little. I usually stick to things without cheese/creamy sauces and that haven't been fried, and just use portion control.

  9. My family seldom eat out but if we do, we just eat what we like, not a time to be particular about healthy eating.

  10. wow nice work! I LOVE chips and salsa probably too much! :)

  11. I used to look at the nutrition facts every time before I went out to dinner. By now, however, I think I know enough about words to look for on a menu, to know what sounds better than others. If I am craving something tha tI know isn't so good for me, I'll do what you do and only eat half, or take out the cheese (or part of it) or sour cream. I also think it's a good idea to pass on the chips when you know you'll be ordering a big meal. It's hard, but if you enjoy the company you are with it's doable! Glad you enjoyed your weekend with your mom :)

  12. We mostly go to local restaurants that do not have nutritional info available but I usually can detect the healthier options from reading the menu. Also, I make substitutions whenever I can such as a salad instead of fries or ordering the sauces on the side.

    I actually worked at Chevys during a summer in college!

  13. I do try to scope out the menu online before going to a restaurant. I used to be one of those people who finished everything on the plate and then left feeling gross, but now I almost always leave some to take home. Thankfully, we don't eat out much! Sounds like you made more good choices than bad.... ;)

  14. Anonymous2/16/2010

    I don't check the nutritional information for restaurants. For occasional casual restaurants, we just try to order small portions or share a meal or eat some and take the rest home. For our 5 stars - we basically go on a diet for a few days before the dinner and on the day of we eat a very light breakfast and skip lunch altogether :)

  15. I look at the menu before we go anywhere.. specially if it is a new place and make my mind up as what to get before I even walk through the door.

    I am well know for changing this on the menu... so if I don't know the nutritional info or its a spare of the moment place than I just create my own dish.. lol I take the mushrooms from here and add it to the salad there and take the sauce from here and added to another dish, replaced the rice with beans.. ask for steamed veggies instead of baked or mashed potato or fries.. It makes some of my friends and definatly in-laws a bit uncomfortable.. lol which makes me enjoy it even more... :)

  16. Way to go Andrea - those chips are KILLERS in both taste (YUM!) and GREASE (YUCK!) The only way we're able to pass them up is to tell the server not to bring them or else we're doomed! ~Mary

  17. i ate a whole basket of chips going out for mexican last night, i am pretty sure of it :)

    however, good work on eating half, taking the rest home and taking off the sour cream - it goes to show that we can all eat sensibly out at restaurants!

  18. You have strong willpower if you can resist those chips. You are a better person than I am. ;)

  19. Most of the time I don't look for the nutritional value when going to a restaurant 'coz what matters to me is the food presentation and how appetizing it is. Yeah, my bad :) I'm more conscious when buying products in a supermarket.