Last night my family went out for dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday. (Happy birthday, mom!).
She chose a nice Italian restaurant, with the typical American-Italian restaurant fare: Bread on the table as soon as you arrive, salads and fried stuff for appetizers, pastas and pizzas, chicken and fish options that all come with pasta on the side.
I have yet to eat at an Italian any restaurant that offers 100% whole grain breads or pastas, so when it’s not a cheat meal, that means that all of those are off-limits. (At home we have stockpiles of 100% whole wheat pasta and bread, ’cause hey, I like pasta and bread as much as you do!). Since I’m saving my cheat meal for Umami Burger this weekend, I had to get a little more creative.
Temptation #1: The bread.
Although my nephews were devouring the focacia-dipped-in-olive-oil-and-balsamic, I stood strong and didn’t have any. I knew if I cheated just a little (“just one bite!”) I’d end up devouring a whole slice, if not two or three. Instead, I focused on the wine and conversation.
Temptation #2: The entrée.
I chose the Shrimp Scampi, which normally comes with linguini. I asked to have vegetables instead of pasta, and our server was happy to oblige. I also ordered a house salad (dressing on the side, natch), which was quite lovely (white beans in a house salad – nice touch.)
My shrimp came on a bed of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. The whole plate was delicious (there was no shortage of garlic, olive oil, or butter) — and I didn’t even miss the pasta. Seriously. Didn’t miss it.
Temptation #3: Matty’s dinner.
Matty had the Chicken Marsala. Thankfully this wasn’t too tempting for me, since I don’t eat Chicken (haven’t touched it since I was fifteen). I did steal a very tasty mushroom, though.
Temptation #4: Dessert.
We were celebrating a birthday, after all — so it would’ve been rude not to have some. They brought out a huge piece of Tiramisu. As the plate was passed around, I capitalized on the opportunity: Just a scoop of marscapone off the top, deftly avoiding any of the espresso-soaked ladyfingers.
Can I get a fist bump?
All in all, I walked away from that meal even more satisfied than if I had devoured the bread and pasta. I didn’t feel over-full or bloated, and I was proud of myself for making great choices. Next time I’m tempted, I’ll try to remember that feeling, reminding myself that ultimately I’m happier when I make healthier choices.
What challenges and temptations have you already encountered in January? How have you dealt with them?
Wondering what all the fuss is about with #januaryrules? Check out this post and this LA Times Daily Dish article.
Photo by Steve Mohundro.
At Umami Burger, you can get your burger in fresh lettuce leaves. Skip the fries and have two of them with a salad on the side! It’s a bit messy, but quite delicious! Staying on track means being selfish, something totally counter to our parents’ teaching. Focus on how you deserve good health more than thinking about making others “comfortable” as they stuff down the carbs.
I’m determined to make my visit tonight a proper cheat meal, bun and all! Next time I go, I’ll definitely employ the lettuce-instead-of-bun strategy. (I just noticed they have sweet potato fries, too… maybe I’ll give those a try instead of the regular ones…)
Definitely a good strategy to remind yourself that you deserve good health. Also, I think eating healthfully for yourself only seems selfish, and certainly only be in the short term. It also has a beneficial effect for society as a whole! Keeping yourself healthy keeps you productive, and reduces your burden on society (think: rising healthcare costs)… and if you stay healthy, you’ll be around a lot longer for your family to enjoy your company!
*Fist bump!* Way to go!!!
Thanks, Cassidy! I was afraid I was going to have to hold my arm out in front of me forever! 😉
Very impressive, well done! If we could only bottle that “feeling” that comes with making healthy choices!
Taking a moment to think about what I’m likely to feel like after I eat a meal is definitely a good motivator to make good choices. Guess that’s as close as we can get to “bottling” that feeling….
Way to go, Andrew! I’ve learned to not even look at the bread since just looking will turn into desiring a piece which is completely off-limits.
It’s funny, because when my husband and I were out for dinner on New Years, he commented after we started eating that he really wanted to try the Korean restaurant’s kal-bi (short ribs) but he felt it would be unfair to me since it wouldn’t be gluten-free. It was sweet of him to do that, but I told him I have to get used to being out with people who aren’t going to think, “Oh, Debi can’t have that so I’m not going to order it.” Besides, I had made gluten-free kal-bi last week so I was good for my kal-bi fix. 😀
Enjoy your Umami Burger this weekend!
Yeah, I hate being “that guy” and making people feel uncomfortable about ordering or eating something because of me. I guess I’m used to it, since I’ve had a special diet since I was 15 (vegetarian) — so it’s required people to occasionally go out of their way to accommodate me. I try to be as unobtrusive as possible, of course, and I’ll happily go out of my way to accommodate someone else’s food requirements. 🙂
Thank you for this!! I had been trying to figure out how to navigate Italian without consuming my weight in refined flour, as I just got a gift certificate for Miceli’s and wanted to go with the family next weekend, but also wanted to save my cheat meal for me and my boyfriend’s anniversary, also next weekend! This is super helpful. Also, Umami does have a pretty good veggie burger, it’s very filling. And I don’t mind their fries, I just smother them in the homemade ketchup or garlic aioli (super cheating!). I have to say, though, my favorite from Umami is the truffle burger. Oh my, that thing is gooooooooood.
On one hand, Italian restaurants are really tough because of all the refined grains. On the other, they’re also pretty good about offering some nice veggies and lean proteins. I find that thinking about what I’m going to order (and not eat) before I go into the restaurant helps a tremendous amount. Then, it’s a matter of finding what I’m looking for on the menu (or asking the server how to make it work).
Thanks for the tip on Umami… I’ll be sure to give the ketchup and aioli a taste! 🙂
Oooh! Umami Burger this weekend!! So good. Are you going to actually have a burger?! 🙂 Their “combo” meals are quite civilized.
I’ve been told their veggie burgers are most excellent. Then again, I’ve also heard that the fries aren’t all that great. Probably still going to give ’em a try anyway. 😉