Barbara – Food court and beyond

I met Lara for lunch at Billingsbridge Shopping Centre last week. Amy Boughner, asked me through Twitter if I were going to write about how to eat healthily at a food court.  I’m not shy about taking writing tips. Today, I’m providing my answers to Amy’s question:

  • If you’re eating at one the big chain outlets, you should check the online nutritional data before you head out.
  • If you’re thinking about a burger and fries or anything deep-fried, including chicken balls and other Chinese foods, please think again.
  • If you’ve reconsidered deep-fried foods and are committed to the choice, separate the food on your plate to the half you’ll eat and the half you’ll throw away and then throw that second half away. Eat only the part of the remainder that tastes marvellous to you.
  • Don’t be fooled by salads. Croutons, creamy dressings, cheese and breaded meat give a salad as many or more calories as a burger.
  • If you’re able, choose foods that have lots of veggies in them. I enjoy Thai and Indian foods. As long as you stay away from the cream-based sauces and eat only a small portion of the rice or noodles that are served, you’ll do okay. The naan bread can be delicious, too, but eat only a small piece of what you receive.
  • Drink water to fill your stomach. Avoid the pop, juice and sports drinks and the calories and sugar they bring with them.
  • Take a brisk walk around the mall before you settle in for shopping. Your body needs it.

Do you have a strategy that I’ve missed? Am I misguided in one of my recommendations? Let me know.

Moving it

I signed up for the 10 K clinic at the Running Room with Sara. I’m missing the focus on pacing that the Half-marathon clinic but enjoying the Wednesday night drills. I’m going to have to take more responsibility for keeping myself at my desired pace. I tried running on a treadmill last Friday. I am  – apparently – not at all coordinated. I abandonned the attempt and went to the elliptical machine. I need to get my courage back and try again on the treadmill this week.

I have changed my program at Curves from fitness to muscle-building. I think greater strength will have a positive effect on my running and also will help me get my body fat percentage down. In the two workouts on the new regime, I burned 400+ calories instead of 300+.  If that is the only change, I like it.

Tale of the scale

My weight has stayed approximately two pounds over my goal. According to the Curves Weight Management program, I’m supposed to wait until it goes up a full three pounds. I don’t think I have the patience for that. I’m going to boost my activity level and maybe cut back a bit on food to get myself back down.

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16 Responses to Barbara – Food court and beyond

  1. sherrilynne7 says:

    Sounds like a good strategy Barbara. I’ve heard the limit is 4lbs when you are in maintenance. That’s when you need to start worrying.

    • Barbara says:

      Thanks for the reassurance. I’m impatient. Knowing this about myself doesn’t seem to make me less so. ;)

  2. Lara Wellman says:

    I went with the Indian curries at the food court with, as did you. I don’t think I did anything amazingly healthy but I did – take the 1 curry option even though in the past I would have wanted more – I did NOT get any nann because I can’t not eat it all – I asked what the least fattening option was (knowing there was no non-fattening option) – and I stopped eating before everything on my plate was gone… which is hard for me.

    Changes ARE happening my friends ;) And my next post…. inspired from a convo Barbara and I had during said lunch :)

    • Barbara says:

      Good points, Lara. Knowing that you won’t stop at part of a serving of something is a good reason to avoid that food entirely. As for acknowledging that there is no non-fattening option, this is something I need to remember. Being realistic is crucial to “the rest of my life” choices.

      I’m looking forward to your next post (as always). :)

    • sherrilynne7 says:

      I love curry too!

  3. Sasha says:

    Splitting the food up before you eat is a great idea, I have yet to work up the nerve to ask for a takeout box at the start of a restaurant meal, but in a food court that would be easier.

    I find I’m favouring the chains more lately, not usually my first pick but it is handy having the nutrition info available. I’m actually hoping to have an iphone app ready soon that collects it all in one place (shameless plug, I know, but I’ll allow myself the indulgence since I plan on handing it around for free… :)

    BTW, so glad you decided to stay!

    • Barbara says:

      I avoid dining out entirely when I’m being uber-conscious of food journalling. There are just too many variables for my brain to process.

      I hope that your app will be available in Android version. I’d review it for sure!

    • Lara Wellman says:

      I’m in for the app too!

      I saw some random book at Chapters the other day with thousands of fast food items and their calories… almost bought it but there’s no way I’m carrying a book around.

  4. Krista says:

    Your hints are all great! I try to avoid food courts entirely, but that is not always possible. With small children, I generally have nutritious and filling snacks on me and will eat them before making food court choices. It takes the grr off :)

    • Barbara says:

      I’ve fallen out of the habit of having snacks on hand. With Reid being 6, it seems she needs them less but I need them more. I’m re-learning this habit and it’s a good thing for my waist and wallet. It’s amazing how much following my mom’s standard practices saves me, or would if only I would follow them.

  5. Shona says:

    When I’m stuck in a food court situation, I usually go for Subway (but I skip the cheese on my sandwich). I think looking up the nutritional info before you go is the best strategy (if you have planned it). Then you know what you are eating and can make an informed choice. Sounds like you are still doing great! :)

    • Barbara says:

      I often order off the Subway mini-sub menu (can’t remember the exact name). It’s good to have the control – saying “no” to cheese and sauces – but I wish there were more options for getting vegetables as a side dish.

  6. Lara C W says:

    These are all good suggestions. Planning ahead if you know you are going shopping also helps. I don’t actually go to the mall much anymore for other reasons (I hate only being able to afford window shopping; malls are a trigger for my migraines), but if I must go I actually avoid going over a meal hour. I am hydrated when I go, always take my waterbottle, and ensure that I have eaten a nutritionally dense meal ahead of time (complex slow carbs and protein). This means more energy, mental alertness and less fatigue – all important in being able to say no to the less healthier options or to the food court all together. I also make sure to shop close to home so I can remind myself that in a mere 15-20 minutes I can pull something fresh and energy giving together for myself at home for much less money. If I have to eat out I will buy something like an edamame salad from the grocery store or a mini sub from subway or a small pita from extreme pita. If I’m near a bridgehead I’ll always choose their lunch as it is so nutritionally dense – their couscous or quinoi salads and sunflower seed pate or curried chicken salad sandwiches are a favorite . :)

  7. sherrilynne7 says:

    I’ve just come back from a long trip of eating in hotels and restaurants 3x a day. I’m not going out again for a looooong time!

  8. Karin says:

    Loved your post! Lots of good tips in it and a little humour “I am – apparently – not at all coordinated.” No kidding but we still love you. :)

  9. Lara C W says:

    Barabara – is there a reason you want to tackle treadmill running despite your …”challenges”? ;) for me it’s a must as the heat and humidity trigger migraines but maybe start off w walking if it’s new for you. Also gradually increase speed while on the tread…none if this jumping onto the tread from the rails at full speed like they do in some reality weight loss shows. Once you can comfortably walk at a brisk pace without holding on then progress to a jog. It’s good you are doing outdoor running w the clinics too though as too much treadmill can cause issues when you then move to natural terrain. Outdoors is more functional but I know it’s hard w this weather. Btw, I once flew off a treadmill when I decided I could take off my pullover warm up sweater whilst running at a 6.8mph pace. So don’t feel bad! ;)

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