The server threw me a questioning look as he observed my half-full plate.
“Was everything okay with your meal, miss?”
“Yes, it’s fine. I’ll just take a box please.”
“Oh, you can eat more than that! You barely touched it!”
I glanced down at my plate, then my stomach. I’d stuffed all that would fit in the compartment.
“Hahaha, no really you can take it,” I said, pushing the plate further away from me.
“Okay,” he relented, his tone skeptical as he reviewed the remains of my dish.
Surely he didn’t expect me to eat that whole gargantuan plate of food!
Unless it’s at a place of fine dining and serious dollar-mining with portions so small you wonder if the kitchen is rationing food, I almost never finish an entire entree when I dine out. It’s not because I have birdlike eating habits.
It’s no secret that American restaurants serve gigantic plates full of enough food to feed you for multiple meals. Unfortunately, instead of eating such generous portions over the span of several meals, for many the inclination is to consume the entire dish. This is on top of whatever else they’ve eaten that day. That’s a hell of a lot of food! Restaurant serving sizes have grown many times over what they were decades ago.
Save for half-order lunch options, restaurants don’t usually serve select-a-size meal portions. I’m 5’1″ (and 3/4!); I’m a petite woman. When I order an entrée, I receive the same servings as everyone else who orders the same menu item, including say, a 6’4″ 200-lb man. Between me and a man of that height and weight, one of us requires far more daily calories to function than the other. Yet, we’re given the same amount of food. If, on a consistent basis, I ingested the same quantity of food as that man, eventually I probably wouldn’t be able to leave my home. I’d be a candidate for my own show on TLC, broadcast from my bed where I am laid up like a blown-up Tootsie Roll ready to pop.
I don’t do diets. I’ve tried my fair share of fad diets in the past: don’t eat carbs; eat more fat; drink spicy lemon water; chocolate shakes; strawberry shakes; vitamin supplements; starve and smile bitterly through your hunger pangs as delicious culinary scents waft under your nose.
None of that crap worked for me long-term, if at all.
I’ve comfortably settled upon portion control, with an emphasis on healthier options, as my choice of “diet.” It allows me to eat what I like in moderation. This way there are no happy rice grains and pasta strands high-kicking their way through my dreams taunting me, “You know you waaaaant us, you know you liiiiike us.” No staring at the clock, eagerly anticipating the time for the next meal. No deprivation. No calorie counting. No boring people with talk about my dietary habits.
I know it’s radical and revolutionary, but combined with regular exercise, this method works well for me and keeps me in good shape.
At brunch in Houston a few years ago, I ordered a side of bacon to accompany my stack of cakes.
“Do you want four slices or eight, darlin’?”
Four or EIGHT? Those are my options? I just want two slices of bacon! Two!
Houston regularly lands in the top 10 on the list of “Fattest Cities in America“.
I opted for the four slices of bacon and pawned two off on my sister. Let’s be real: it’s not hard to get rid of bacon in our pig-lovin’ society.
The pancakes arrived, an imposing tower of spongy starch. I dug in, brushing aside my initial intimidation at the sight of the mammoth heap, slowly savoring each bite. The only way I’d inhale the whole mound is if an Amazing Race win was on the line. Thank goodness for takeout boxes.