May 10, 2011

By Tina Haupert

For Mother's Day this year, my sister and I treated my mom to a late lunch at the Melting Pot. The Melting Pot specializes in cheese and chocolate fondue, so dining there is quite an indulgent experience and neither low calorie nor low fat. I enjoy indulging on these occasions, but, at the same time, I also like to keep my calories in check. I want my jeans to fit after all! The Melting Pot offered a four-course menu for Mother's Day, which meant that I also needed to pace myself through the multiple courses without overdoing it. Here's how I enjoyed a multicourse meal without leaving stuffed to the gills!

1. Turn down the extras
I know that I usually go overboard in the calorie department on multicourse meals, so I cut calories right at the beginning by turning down the bread basket and a cocktail. To me, bread baskets are all the same, so I don't bother wasting my calories on them. Similarly, while I love a good drink, I prefer to save my calories for the food in the different courses.

2. Start slow
Instead of diving right into the first course, I started slowly and took only a few bites of the first couple of courses to save room for the main course and dessert. If I eat too much at the beginning of the meal, I inevitably end up overeating when more delicious plates are placed in front of me.

3. Fill up on nutrients
When it comes to meals with lots of courses, I fill up on the foods with the most nutrients first and then enjoy smaller portions of those that might not be as good for me. Most of the time, the foods with lots of nutrients are those with the fewest calories, like steamed vegetables and salad, or whole grains, like brown rice, couscous, or quinoa.

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4. Be selective with the courses
After trying a few bites of a new course, if the dish doesn't knock my socks off, I stop eating it. I know more food is on the way, so I put down my fork and wait for the next dish to arrive. There's no point in wasting calories on something that isn't amazing, especially when the meal includes so many options.

5. Step away from the table
Midway through the meal, I like to get up from the table and assess my hunger without a plate of food staring back at me. Usually, a trip to the restroom or a quick walk around the restaurant helps me figure out how hungry I really am, which helps me pace myself for the rest of the meal.

6. Leave room for dessert
Dessert is always my favorite course, so my goal for the meal is to pace myself so I am able to enjoy it without feeling too full. In the past, there's been plenty of times that dessert's been served after a big meal, and I end up enjoying it so much, I leave feeling totally stuffed and disappointed in myself. If I keep my dessert goal in mind, it's easier for me to turn down a few bites here and there throughout the meal, so I can fully enjoy a sweet treat at the end.

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