Women with a history of overeating can truly dread eating out—so many pitfalls, so many opportunities to overeat or eat what is “illegal” on whatever eating plan they’re following. But, in light of God’s grace, eating out can be a treat—the welcome departure from meal preparation, as well as a chance to eat foods you would not normally cook for yourself.
Here are some tips for staying in the grace/truth mode when you eat out*:
- Remember that there are no forbidden foods (Mk. 7:19), so you don’t have only this one opportunity to eat something yummy. You can have more delicious food tomorrow at home!
- Leaving food on your plate does not cost any more than putting that same food into a body that doesn’t need any more food. If you are no longer hungry, throwing the food into your body is the exact same thing as throwing it into the trash, because either way you’re not using the food. If you dispose of the food by placing it into your body, you are unkind to yourself by making yourself feel physically uncomfortable. Be kind to yourself and send the food to the trash, rather than trashing yourself.
- Taking food home is usually an option. Get more bang for your buck by getting two or three meals/snacks from your restaurant visit. You can even plan ahead for that inevitable doggy bag by packing a cold bag and some frozen cold packs in the car where you can stow your leftovers if you aren’t planning to go home immediately after the meal.
- Enjoy the entire experience, not just the food. Savor the atmosphere of the restaurant, the aromas, the sounds, the people watching, the people with whom you are dining, the conversation. And take the time to really taste and smell the food. You’ll find it far more satisfying; therefore, you’re less likely to keep craving more.
- Share dishes with others. If you would really like to taste the tiramisu, but you know you’re nearly on tilt, ask a fellow diner if he’d like to share a dessert and take only a bite or two. Notice if you keep eating even though you’re no longer physically hungry, even that marvelous dessert just doesn’t taste as great as you expected. Food always tastes a lot better when you’re hungry.
- Take note of how the naturally slim people around you relate to their food. Maybe a woman you see doesn’t even touch the bread and honey butter but delights in her juicy steak. Learn to be picky about which foods you want to have room for and which are on the B list.
When you get out of the heat of the kitchen and head to the restaurant, it can be a vacation from stress when you know God has created you for moderation and to enjoy His gifts (Tit. 2:11-12; 1 Tim. 6:17).
*Thanks and acknowledgment to Geneen Roth for Chapter 7 of Breaking Free from Emotional Eating, where I first learned about avoiding the pitfalls of eating out. For more information, visit geneenroth.com (but keep in mind that she is not acquainted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ).