Eat Dessert First!

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Healthy Beet CakeCheryle Jones Syracuse is back on the blog today, and this time she has some surprising weight control and dining out advice...

We’ve all seen those cute posters that say, “Life is short, eat dessert first.” They're good for a laugh, and the sentiment can be meaningful if you’re being philosophical about the important things in life. However, if you’re a person who loves sweets, but who tries to have a more healthful lifestyle, this phrase may have a different meaning.

I was observing a weight loss class a couple weeks ago, and the teacher told the group that she always asks for a dessert menu first when she goes out to eat. This statement really piqued my interest. Here she is… a role model for her students... telling them to think about dessert first. Could this be right?

Here's what made it all make sense. The instructor explained that, by knowing what’s on the menu, she can make a decision early if there’s a dessert she just can’t resist.

Strawberry Cinnamon TortillaIf dessert is your weakness, especially when dining out, this might not be such a bad idea. You might not need to eat it first, but at least think about what you might get and plan for dessert.

Another tried-and-true strategy for healthful dining at restaurants is to get the menu ahead of time. Often you can do this by visiting the website and doing a little homework before you walk into the restaurant. That way, you’re prepared with a decision and you won’t be blindsided by all the options while the server is standing there waiting for your order.

So, if you know you may be tempted by dessert: be proactive. You don’t always need to pass on dessert if that’s one of your cravings. Make a decision early if you plan to order dessert or not. Some things may be worth the calories. Or you may be content just knowing there isn’t anything there that is going to tempt you later in the meal. Plan accordingly.

Raspberry Beet CheesecakeHere are some tips to try if you know you’re going to finish your meal with a higher fat or sugary treat:

  • Order a smaller entrée or have an appetizer as your entrée.
  • Select a lower-fat entrée such as broiled fish or chicken with no sauce.
  • Go for lots of vegetables in your meal.
  • Divide your meal in half, then either take half home for later or share with a friend.
  • Share the dessert with a friend or buy one and share it with everyone at the table -- maybe it’s just a bite or two that you need.
  • Enjoy your dessert… you’ve planned for it.

You know, thinking about sayings that reference dessert brings another fun one to mind.  "Stressed is 'desserts,' spelled backwards.” By planning ahead, you won’t stress or make an impulsive decision when the server asks if you've saved room for dessert.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

There are lots of wonderful resources for helping clients dine out responsibly! Check out these bestselling educational materials...

130 Eat Dessert First!
Handout: Dining Out Tips
2 151 Eat Dessert First!
Vacation Light PowerPoint and Handout Set
portp Eat Dessert First!
Portion Control Poster

And here's a helpful handout that offers a "dessert first" guide, just for you! Download it for free today!

Dessert First Handout

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