Are you sure you don't want something to drink?
Going out to eat is a pain in the ass for me. Just last week, I went to a restaurant that rhymes with "Lone Wish" because I got an Email alert touting the eatery's Lobster Rangoon and if you've ever had crab rangoon from one of those greasy Chinese food restaurants, then you know its successor cannot be denied.
It was worth every heart-stopping calorie, too.
I fill up pretty fast, so I didn't have much room for my beer-battered fish and chips. That's because I have a low tolerance for big meals and well, there just isn't as much available real estate as there used to be.
There is a difference between having a "small" stomach and having abs.
People who have defined abs can still have a big stomach, because growing your muscles in a particular region of your body has little to do with how much body fat you carry around. It just gets harder to see them when you project a big, blubbery belly.
And the key to avoiding the gratuitous gut is portion control, which leads to fewer calories which then leads to, well, you know the rest.
Hell, there is an entire industry devoted to making people eat less by feeling full faster. When I was a kid, it was those little pills you popped. The commercial always showed the capsule contents being spilled out onto a table and it looked like a gumball machine being tipped over.
Now, they have that shit you sprinkle on your food and it makes you fill up.
Since I didn't care to garnish my food with chemicals like some kind of overweight crop duster, I had to find another way to stop eating so much and the obvious answer was to condition the receptacle to hold less volume. Your stomach can get bigger, but the smallest it will ever get is "normal size," which is actually pretty small.
You just can't make it smaller than "normal" by not eating.
That's like trying to make your brain smaller by not thinking. Doesn't work that way. But if you condition your stomach to stay one size, it will usually remain that way when you eat, so that getting stretched out feels unnatural and gross, and keeps the fork on the table even if you don't want it to.
Most of us stretch out our stomachs on a daily basis and don't even realize it.
It usually starts by having a drink with your meals. It can be any drink, even water. You sit down at a restaurant and they bring you a drink. Usually to keep you distracted while they burn your food in the kitchen and at three bucks a pop, it's a great way to run up your tab and get the tip higher.
Sometimes we're an entire glass in before the food comes.
Imagine taking a balloon, dumping a full glass of water in it, then bringing out a plate loaded with food to chase it. You need to do some serious work to get all that stuff in there. Then move it up and down and it's sloshing about, all mixed up and sounding like galoshes in the bathtub.
Tum, Tum, Tum, Tum, TUMS!
It's even worse if you have soda or beer, as those little bubbles turn your stomach into an Alka-Seltzer commercial. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is ... to hit the bathroom four times while you're out to dinner. So, what's the easiest way to keep yourself from inflating?
Skip the drink.
Unless you just crossed the Deadly Desert to dine at Cafe de Oz, you shouldn't be dying of thirst. Having a drink with your meal is a convenience, not a necessity, particularly if you do enough drinking throughout the day to stay hydrated and maintain overall good health.
I drink in between meals.
Obviously, I like to go out and have a craft beer from time-to-time and I love a glass of red wine with my pasta. Coffee with breakfast? Duh. But I usually wait until I have actual food on the table and eat them together, slowly and deliberately, so that when the meter runs out, I know when to throw in the towel.
Usually, I don't have a choice, because I feel full.
Full is good. Bloated is not. If you follow the rule of eating "until you're satisfied," you will find it very difficult to get a full meal and a full drink into the same place at the same time. A few swallows to "wash it down," sure, but there's no reason to get all eight glasses of water per day in one or two meals.
Try it for a week.
It's not designed to be a major overhaul or something you commit to religiously, but rather one of those approaches you keep in the back of your mind that if you can do more often than not, will likely complement your existing strategy en route to your goals.
Who knows, you may even feel better.
We often work hard to spread out our meals across the day to benefit our metabolism and not overload our digestive system. The same holds true with our hydration. Sip, don't chug. I usually nurse a water bottle in between meals and I never find myself "thirsty," which is the last thing I want to be when I sit down to eat.
I need that room for the rangoon.
I know some of you will ignore me because drinking is fun, but it also has a lot of calories, which can only compound the problem. Since I can't stop you, I can at least help you make the right decision when it comes time to indulge, or perhaps steer you into a more fitness-friendly direction.
See below (via Greatist).
Download that chart and thank me later.
One place you shouldn't be having booze is breakfast, unless it's a mimosa, and that's one of the few meals where food and drink come together harmoniously. It helps that breakfast cereal isn't really as heavy or dense as say lunch or dinner, and pairs well with milk, unless you're having some heavy duty granola or oatmeal loaded with the kitchen sink.
Some people opt for a smoothie to get the day started.
That's usually how I take my ViSalus shake (see what all the fuss is about here). I load it up with some fresh fruit and throw in some wheat germ. Add a shitload of ice cubes along with a plain greek yogurt and I feel full, hydrated and ready to kick some ass. I don't, because I'm a wimpy writer, but at least I can pretend to be Flash Gordon when I sit down to get my type on.
Speaking of the day's most important meal, stay tuned next week for a very special announcement!
Fitness Friday is sponsored by ViSalus. Opinions expressed are solely of the author. For more information on the ViSalus line of products click here.