Eat Right Around Chicago

Chicago Food Favs - Diet Delicacy or Diet Derailer?

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I've been talking to some people about what to do when you'd like to try a Chicago food fav, but know that it's not the most nutritious choice.  How do you eat right when you just want a taste of Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, Renaldi's, Piece, Kuma's Corner, Hot Doug's, Sweet Mandy B's or even Five Guys?  
Well, I could answer that all foods fit, everything in moderation, on a special occasion, eat 1/2, share with a friend or just avoid since they are packed with calories and fat.  But I'm not going to.  I actually think it's very important to try a variety of foods and I think it's REALLY important to enjoy food.  I'm not an emotional eater, I'm an enthusiastic taster, and I insist on maintaining a normal body weight, a comfortable fitness level and fitting into my clothes.  It is possible to eat right and have a diet-breaker without it having lasting effects.  That said, you have to be honest with yourself and reflect on your usual intake before you call these meals a "splurge".   

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Sweet Mandy B's

Am I being honest about "splurges" checklist: 

1.  Can you conjure a "special occasion" on any given Tuesday, and again on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? 

2.  Do you feel like you are missing out if you don't eat your face off?

3.  Do you unbutton at the end of a meal?

4.  Do you think about the rest of your diet when you splurge on a Chicago fav?

The aim of a splurge isn't to chronically derail your health.  If you find yourself answering yes to the first three questions, you may be including more indulgent meals than healthy (Q1), you might be choosing quantity over quality (Q2) and you could be eating past the point of comfort, therefore more calories than you need (Q3).  Throw in a "no" to question 4 and we have a starting point to eat right and learn how to "splurge" on must-haves. 

Here's how I eat right without missing out on Chicago restaurant favs:

1.  A special occasion is special, on occasion, and should not be the norm.  It could be a Tuesday night, but it can't also be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

2.  I never miss out on a taste of something delicious, but I really don't need to eat a large portion to enjoy it's creamy, rich or crunchy qualities.  A bite or small portion will do. 

3.  I'd rather not roll out of a restaurant.  I have water with my meal, I eat slowly and I avoid scarfing down my food so that all of my internal mechanisms that tell me when I'm satiated have time to work - from receptors in the gut to the brain - I give them time to keep up and tell me to stop eating.  I think it's also nice when out with others to avoid "back-up", "repeaters", "burfs" and any other crude words or phrase... 

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4.  I consider my diet for the day.  For example, I reveled every bite of Lou's pizza, but I made the choice to order it early.  Because of this, I evaluated my entire day of eating and made choices that managed my calories along with my healthy fat intake, fruits, vegetables and protein (not to mention calcium, vitamin D, potassium and so on).  I had a whole grain cereal for breakfast (I like Smart Start, among others), non-fat milk with banana slices; lunch included low fat vanilla yogurt with chopped Medjool dates and a handful of dry almonds along side I had cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and a slice of whole grain bread. Add in my cheesy, sausage covered and onion, green pepper and tomato laden pie and it wasn't a total diet disaster according to MyPyramid.

So, I just wanted to give some guidance here to help you all eat right when you eat your way around Chicago.  Eating well does require deliberation and forethought, but it doesn't need to be painful, restrictive or unpleasant! 




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