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.
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.
- 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...
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.