My Restaurant Rules

by HEAB on March 19, 2010

Yesterday, I met my friend Jessica for lunch.


The cold I had knocked me out of commission for a while, and it was so good to have some social interaction again. When I’m sick, I cancel all my clients as I don’t want to risk getting them sick. Also, it’s not much fun to receive a massage if your therapist sounds like she’s choking or drips snot on you…happened once, true story. I told him we could forego the tip. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, since I haven’t been working, I’ve basically been conversing with my 2 dogs all day long, and as much as I love hanging out with CD when he gets home from work at night, I need to interact with other humans. So many thanks to Jessica for joining me at Provence for some yummy salads.

We both ordered the Golden Beet salad with roasted beets, peppered bacon, and goat cheese with whole grain mustard sorghum molasses dressing (which I MUST recreate at home). The salad comes with a slice of artisan bread. Last time I went, they were handing out their walnut cranberry bread, and I was upset to get some plain jane whole grain slice this time around. However, it will still quite tasty, especially when dipped in the dressing. Below, I have analyzed my salad for your viewing pleasure…


This meal got me thinking about the many rules I have surrounding my food, especially when I go out to eat. Do you have rules? Here are some of mine:

1. Don’t even bother bringing the bread basket, and if said basket does happen to appear on the table, I won’t touch it…EVER. However, for some reason, if you give me bread WITH my meal, I’ll usually eat it…like it’s part of my allowed portion or something. Weird, huh?

2. I am not a spontaneous diner-outer. If you call me at 4 PM and ask me to meet you for sushi at 5, guess what? I won’t be there, partly because I don’t like sushi, but mostly because I probably already have dinner planned out in my head.

3. Please do not ask me if I want to order an appetizer. Unless, we’re dining at some funky vegetarian raw foods restaurant where I’m dying to try everything on the menu, I promise I do not want to split any of the appetizers. No spinach and artichoke dip and definitely not the bruschetta…as that involves bread. One other exception to this rule is when hummus and WHOLE WHEAT pita are on the menu. I will gladly join you in eating some. πŸ™‚

4. Please do not ask me if I’d like to order 2 dishes and share them as I’ve probably already analyzed the menu online, looked up the nutritional information if available, and have made my decision based on everything else I’ve already eaten that day. My mind is made up, and I don’t want to share.

5. If you could only hear the internal debate my mind is having with my stomach when we go out for Mexican, my FAVORITE. Oh gosh, here come the chips. Heather, just eat one and dip it in salsa. Save the guac for your meal. OK, 7 chips is fine…that’s about a serving…oh no, please don’t ask for MORE guac. Crap, I’ve eaten the whole basket, and now I have to order a boring salad for my meal and NOT EAT any of the fried basket holding said salad.

6. No, I don’t want dessert, but if you want dessert, that is fine. I hope you enjoy it, but please don’t bother asking for extra spoons…really, I don’t want any.

OK, that about sums up my craziness for the day. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going out – I do, it’s just not something I can do very often. Chris and I usually go out to dinner about once a month, and I do love meeting my girls for lunch as we usually go to Heather-friendly type salad places. I’m a control freak, I know, but I need to know what’s going into my food. After losing weight, I know what I can and can’t have, and I know what it takes to keep the weight off. Preparing and enjoying my own meals just makes me happy and keeps me sane.

What about you? What are your rules? Please tell me I’m not the only one.


tiffany @ texan on the run September 21, 2011 at 1:09 am

as i mentioned in a previous comment, im a new reader and def will stay πŸ™‚

i LOVE your honesty about your attitude towards food and exercise. i feel like most healthy living/food bloggers depict themselves as people who love to exercise and have this non-challant “intuitive eating”attitude and don’t get slightly anxious about eating a lot during the holidays or eating a larger than normal amount of sweets, etc….but then they reveal in post with “yes i get exercise guilt” slipped in…and so it’s surprising that they depict themselves in such a “i can not care about what i eat because i’m generally healthy and exercise” person.

thanks for your honesty and it’s really reassuring to know that a hot bod takes hard work and strong will power.

HEAB September 21, 2011 at 7:40 am

Thanks for relating Tiffany. I think most of us have some rules…I mean if we didn’t and ate out all the time, it would be a challenge to stay fit. Since this post, I have relaxed my rules a bit, but some of them will always be in place. That’s just who I am after losing all my weight, and I make no apologies for it. Thanks again for the support and for reading my blog!

R @ Learning As I Chop August 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Wow, I have no rules (except for the generic try to pick chicken over pasta, which I usually fail at anyway) which is probably why I struggled with my weight pre-preggo. An interesting topic – how do you plan to balance these rules with raising your daughter? I am expecting a girl and am terrified of talking about this kind of thing with her.

HEAB August 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Good question. I really relaxed a lot around all of my rules when I was pregnant. Had to as some days, all I could eat was Pop-Tarts and grilled cheese. Ha – definitely broke a lot of rules. With Summer, we’re just hoping to lead by example and eat well when we can but without all the rules. I don’t really want to put a ban on anything. So, we’ll do our best to eat healthy at home, but there will be ice-cream and pizza on occasion I’m sure. πŸ™‚

Laurel Alanna McBrine August 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Oh my goodness, I know this is an older post, but I just have to say that it is a slippery slope when you break the rules where crusty bread is concerned – in preparing for a celiac test, I have been on a month long binge and I am pretty sure I ate almost a whole loaf in one evening last week. My gut and my joints are not pleased. Trying to get off the stuff again now – it is like crack cocaine for me, so addictive! So, I think having a few food rules is a good thing!

Kelly September 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Hey Heather-just recently started reading-and love!-your blog. Congrats on the HEABlet! I stumbled on this post from one of your newer ones and it couldn’t have come at a better time-I changed my eating habits drastically during college-actually going opposite of the “freshman 15” and losing weight-and ever since have had to deal with constant comments from friends while out to eat about my embarrassing ordering habits (all the changes I make to order) even having a girl I just met last Friday tell me she was sorry to stare but my eating was so weird (I was dipping my fork in salad dressing instead of pouring). Sorry for the long comment! It’s just nice to know there are others out there with the same ideas.

HEAB September 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

You are so not alone. Talk to anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight, and I guarantee they have rules of their own. A lot of people don’t understand the way I eat, but that’s okay. I am healthy, and I know what works for me. That being said, I have relaxed my rules a bit since becoming pregnant, and I hope not to be so strict on myself in the future as I wouldn’t want my daughter to grow up with some of my former restrictive habits.

Just keep doing what you’re doing, and as long as your looking and feeling good, then it shouldn’t matter what others think. Glad you found me and thanks so much for reading! August 29, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Heather, oh have you given me something to ponder! Hands up I have eating out issues. I don’t eat dessert but I do struggle with quantity – when to push the plate away and say enough is enough. I was raised to finished everything on my plate and for me the challenge is not what I choose from the menu but knowing when to say I am full. Serving sizes are ALWAYS too large for me.
A couple of things to share about my restaurant experiences….
We never eat buffet style as neither H nor I trust the length of time food has been sitting out/not chilled or heated correctly.
I like to be able to see into the kitchen if the restaurarnt is on the cheap side… i want to see a clean working environment and I WILL walk out if I see poor standards of hygiene in the viewable kitchen or amongst serving staff.
I will not return to a restaurant that serves poor side salad…. there is no excuse of inspirationless salad!

HEAB August 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

I have trouble NOT cleaning my plate as well. If the food is there, then I want to eat it. That’s why I try and avoid buffets, and I agree with you…who knows how long the food has been sitting out there! Oh, and don’t even get me started on salads…a plate of iceberg with cheddar cheese and croutons does not a salad make. Get with the times people! πŸ˜‰

neurosciency June 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm

hey, new reader here; i love your posts! the rules you posted about are similar to ones i have, though i’ve never really thought about them as rules. one actual explicit rule i have at coffeeshops is that when i order a pastry i almost always order an unsweetened drink. dunno, it seems to work , somehow, and i won’t get as much of a sugar crash, haha.

Heather Eats Almond Butter June 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Neurosciency, So glad you found me and thanks for reading. Ah, the rules…I would totally do the same thing if I ordered a pastry…no sweetened drink that day. Believe me, I get it. πŸ™‚

~liz May 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

I think this is totally normal. Sounds to me like you are just making lifestyle changes and sometimes making-following lists is what you do to make theese changes. I second that!

Serena May 2, 2010 at 11:28 am

I avoid the bread baskets because they don’t fill me up and I’ll probably end up eating the same amount of appetizer either way. I prefer open-faced sandiwches so I usually take off the top half of the bread, too.
Also, no dessert, usually. (Vegan so it’s hard…if there is a vegan dessert I’m usually all for it, though, unless I’m really off sugar for a while)

Heatherkind March 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm

HEATHER, now I know why my name is HEATHER….We are the same! HA! This post actually made me feel better for my craziness. Isnt it funny how people try to make you feel weird for it though? I have three restuarnts in my HUGE collage town that I will eat at. If it is not one of those three, dont even ask me. It is because I can be as picky as I want and know that they are not sneaking anyting that I dont want in there. My friends think I am crazy but hey, a girl knows what she likes! Check out my blog will ya?!?
Keep up the great work, I read everyday.

Andrea of Care to Eat March 23, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Oh how this post cracked me up! Basically, you and I could only be friends if we didn’t dine together – I would break all your rules πŸ™‚ I’m big in to sharing.
You read my blog so I know you know that I have very few food rules and when I do, I usually break them, but restaurants are the one place I truly have no rules. I can make boring, healthy meals at home – when I’m paying someone to provide me with good food, I want it to be a sensory overload. I just let my instincts take over and if I want to indulge I do. And if I want to be “good” I will.

Susan March 23, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I don’t eat out much either, but that’s because I usually buy so many groceries I can’t justify spending the money on food when I have a fridge full of good stuff at home! I’m okay on the bread basket, some warm white bread with whipped butter is better than a dessert for me – and often better than the meal itself πŸ˜‰ I alwaysalways order some form of meat with a side of vegetables (steamed or raw). No appetizers, no dessert and water only. Keep the calories low, but is also much nicer on my wallet!

Oh. And chips and salsa. Yeah, no control. I don’t even pretend like I can fool myself into having only three chips.

snackface March 23, 2010 at 10:41 am


I read all the time, but I’m just getting caught up after the finals week rush. This post is really making me evaluate the rules I used to have versus the rules I have now. I used to have almost every rule you listed, but now, as long as it doesn’t have meat, I’ll probably eat it.

And unlike most people here, I totally seek restaurants that DO have bread baskets because, well, I love bread. I completely understand that your bod doesn’t handle it well, but this chick’s loves it.

Eating out is much more of a sharing, socializing, bonding experience than anything for me. Like Europeans, who gather around a table joyously and laugh and eat delicious food together. There is something so strong in that, and it’s how it’s been in my family. It’s something I lost for a while, but now that I have the ability to enjoy everything fully with whomever I’m dining, I’m not letting it go.

I completely understand where you come from, but I just wanted to share a bit of the opposite voice.

P.S. I met Jay Robb and thought of you the whole time.

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 23, 2010 at 10:54 am

Snackface, Thanks so much for sharing – you make some wonderful points.

CANNOT believe you met Jay! So jealous. πŸ˜‰

Cherie March 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm

As far as rules, I’d have to agree with lainie and change the word to quirks. As long as it only happens occassionly I feel like you can get away with eating a bit of anything. That said, I avoid white bread (unless I am starving and then against my better judgement I eat it), I can’t stand meat (so it’s not really a rule, but not going to be broken), I don’t do dairy (because it’s just not worth the pain), and if I eat too much sugar at a meal I know I won’t feel well either.
So, actually even though I seem horribly hard to take to dinner (according to everyone I know) I don’t think I’m all that strict, I just don’t want to be miserable or ill when we’re done.

freckledfoodie March 22, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I’m the same way, Heather! I get a hard time from a lot of my family and friends because of it, so don’t worry, you’re not alone. πŸ˜€

Emily March 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Heather…this post made me so sad. I understand that you feel you are in a “unique” situation b/c of your weight loss…but this post is so triggering. Reading the comments was even worse. Tons of women who might have disordered eating now have validation from someone they admire about their obsessions. I used to have “rules” for the same reason as you. I’ve abandoned them- and it’s been a long, hard journey but I wouldn’t go back in a second. I understand this is your blog and therefore you can post whatever you want. But, you have a lot of fans and you didn’t even stop to think about how triggering and damaging a post like this could be. Or maybe you did. And didn’t care. I’m done reading your blog- it triggers my eating disorder. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I wish you peace and gratitude in your journey.

Sophie March 22, 2010 at 7:44 am

Wow, those are a lot of rules! For me, eating out is more about pleasure because I am spending money and want to fully enjoy it. I love sharing because I get to try more things! My only real rule is that I cannot order something that I can make at home — otherwise I would feel that I could do a better job of making it, and it would be cheaper for me to do it myself! Otherwise, I’m open to anything πŸ™‚

Dominique March 21, 2010 at 10:00 am

My problem with eating out is that my town doesn’t really have a lot of healthy options and of the places that my friends want to go to (usually for a celebration), I usually end up getting a salad but with IBS, there’s a 50/50 chance that I’ll get sick with one of the ingredients in said salad. I also can’t eat non-organic chicken (hormones make me really ill) so that knocks about 90% of the menu in most chain restaurants and I don’t trust beef/salmon (not cooked properly/too dry) and I just don’t like pork. So yeah, I’m kind of a pain in the ass to eat with too. I wish I lived closer to the city where we had more “fresh,” healthy restaurant options.

Donca March 21, 2010 at 8:18 am

In addition to what I stated before, I am also a germaphobe. Having seen chef Ramsey’s “Kitchen nightmare’s” Restaurants must also live up to my cleanliness standards. I have been know to sit down and walk out after seeing dirty floors, dirty bathrooms and an overall level of uncleanliness…

Jenn ( March 21, 2010 at 12:00 am

I don’t have any rules, I just enjoy what I want and try to only eat at places that use real food. Most of the time anyway lol.

That salad looks divine. I would have asked for EXTRA bread, though. LOL


Jae March 20, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Oh wow! I have rules for when I go out to eat also so I feel better now πŸ™‚

1. Dont ask me to get sweets, because I’m totally not going to go for the spontaneous brownie. Tell me a couple days beforehand so that I have time to mentally prep myself.
2. Full fat icecream? I think not… more of a froyo girl. πŸ™‚
3. Pescectarian…. No meat for this girlie here. Not even luscious pork belly that my parents sometimes have on hand ><
4. As much as possible, I'll have seen the nutritional stats (like you!) beforehand.
5. I'll get the side salad with dressing on the side if I dont know what's in something and have bites of the parentals dinner or sthg.

Kim March 20, 2010 at 8:05 am

Your fourth rule was perfect! I had my husband read it, telling him “this is exactly why I get upset when you propose sharing at restaurants.” You articulated it so well.

Also, we’re going out to Mexican tonight and the chip debate/conversation has already started in my head.

Your rules are not crazy. They seemed normal to me… or maybe I’m just crazy, too. πŸ™‚

Veggielady4life March 20, 2010 at 7:55 am

I relate to this post so much. Sometimes, I wish there were other things that people liked to do when they get together… OTHER than go out to eat. I do enjoy it sometimes… just not that often… and not spontaneously…. but I feel so bad declining. I love your rules… those are pretty much mine as well… and I’m notorious for looking up online menus and picking out what I’m going to have before we go. Thanks so much for this post… I’m adding you to my blogroll… and looking forward to following you!!

Maggie March 20, 2010 at 7:23 am

I read this yesterday on my blackberry but I had to come back and comment (and apparently everyone else in the world did too!). I have your same way of thinking. Bread bowl? Nope. Actually, I’m more likely to eat the bread they bring than the chips (I’m not a chip person).

ALWAYS order hot water πŸ™‚ With lemon. Not tea, just water.

I’ve been eating out so much recently but I have managed to find places that make the same meals I would make at home. There are SO MANY create your own salad places in the city. Yesterday I went to one called “Organique” and got the most amazing organic chicken on my salad.

marla {family fresh cooking} March 20, 2010 at 7:06 am

Amen!! Great post. I agree with so much of what you say here. I am very calculated as to where I like to go and how I will order. My formula is this:

Huge amount of veggies (never fried, duh)
No pasta, bread, rice, cous cous, carby stuff thank you
A big piece of lean protein or eggs
Some fat to tie it all together (dressing, cheese, yolk, bacon whatever)
Salsa or Marinara on the side
Hot water to drink
Never Dessert. Ever.
Done and happy

When people try to divert me I get pissed as there are no diversions! xxoo

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 20, 2010 at 7:08 am

Marla, I always order hot water too. A mug of hot water with lemon even in the summer. Iced water makes me so cold. Don’t like it.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 20, 2010 at 1:49 am

Holy comments!
Well as a high raw vegan, who is gluten free, very soy avoidant, and hates salt, onions, and garlic, I cook at home. 365 days a year baby! It’s just that way πŸ™‚ I used to eat out and spent days sick from eating my allergens. It’s just not worth it. Nor would it be to try to explain this to a dinner guest OR the service staff at the restaurant. however, when we do get back to CA, i will be able to indulge in some swanky raw vegan fare dining out, so that’s cool and I look forward to it!

L March 20, 2010 at 12:28 am

I realize that you have lost a lot of weight, and of course you want to keep it off. And you should take steps to ensure that you do that! However it sounds like your efforts have snowballed into obsession. When food starts to get in the way of your life, whether its thinking about it, meticulously preparing it, planning it, that is a problem! EDs come in many forms. I personally have disordered eating. I used to have all the same rules and I started actually losing friends because of it. They got annoyed by my restaurant requests or refusals and didnt understand. I started getting ostracized and I realized it was because of FOOD that OTHER parts of my life, more important parts, were beginning to suffer. So that is when I started getting help. I now dont have those stringent rules, and I try to go with the flow. Not having those do it or die rules has not lead to any weight gain, only to a calmer sense of being and a more complete life. Once you start to shed those obsessions, all that energy starts to be channeled to other things, and you feel so much better! Maybe your rules dont point to an ED, and it is just a quirk. But this post can still be useful to others who do have rules and do have underlying issues with food.

jess August 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I totally agree with you, L. I had read this post originally a while ago when I was struggling with an ED, and I was so excited that I was not alone in these “quirks.” Since then, however, I have come a long way. I happened upon this post recently, and it really scared me to see all of these people fervently agreeing and then explaining their own very strict “quirks.” I’m not trying to sound like I’m attacking you or any other bloggers/commenters, but this is one of the reasons why I stopped reading many blogs…I felt like I could identify too much with some of these eccentricities…so much so that they were incredibly triggering to me. And I completely acknowledge that this was my own issue that I had to deal with. At the same time, however, I am worried about many of the people who commented and hope that if their quirks are more than just quirks that they can get help. I hope this can all be taken in good stride. I am just trying to put in my two cents.

Mandy March 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Relating, relating, relating! My husband and I got into a fight (which we rarely do) in front of my mother over dessert at a restaurant.

Here is the thing. I LOVE sugar, and if I’m going to order dessert, it is mine. He wanted SOME dessert, but didn’t want to order HIS OWN dessert, so he asked if he could have a LITTLE BIT of mine, to which I replied, fine, even though in my head I was screaming “are you crazy? Do you not know me at all and understand perfectly well that I am incapable of sharing anything involving sugar? Who are you and what have you done with my husband?”

So the dessert comes, and he keeps eating and eating and eating and I swear I started having a panic attack. It ruined my dessert experience because I started to eat faster just to keep up with his pace….nuts. Just nuts.

Thanks, as always, for your fantastic honesty.

Danielle March 19, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I love your honesty and can completely relate to being a control freak!
I really don’t like other people touching/preparing my food. At all. I just like to know where my food came from and what I’m putting in my body. Is that so weird??

By the way, a LOT of people have “rules” at restaurants but might not pertain to health. Some people don’t eat stuff because the portion is too small or it’s too expensive or they could make that at home blah blah but they don’t get criticized for it!

Sarah March 19, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Heather I completely agree with all your rules. I ask what food is cooked in and customize all my dishes. I research nutritional facts all the time!! I think it’s perfectly normal to be concerned on how your food is cooked and what’s in it. Food is fuel that should be enjoyed. And you can’t enjoy food when you’re worried about a dish being unnecessarily high in calories due to flavoring and ingredients NOT found in nature. As for all the negative comments, you do what you need to do to feel the best about your food choices. It’s no one else’s business how you choose to eat. Until someone has experience your relationship with food they can not understand nor relate to how you choose to eat. I have friends who have never struggled with weight loss and can eat burgers and fries every day and be a healthy weight whereas I would gain weight immediately! So you do what you need to do πŸ™‚ Love your blog!!

PS Eating out is stressful not just because nutrional value but you never know who is touching your food and whether he/she washed his/her hands, etc.

lpskins March 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

No thanks to the sharing and no thanks to people eating off my plate.

Kim March 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Ahhh…a girl after my own heart πŸ˜‰ Fred looked @ my dinner tonight in just awe. Heck, I never claimed to be normal! That is why my bloggie friend we are doing the tea/ lunch thing! You are I think my mirror image, now you just need to live closer! Hope you are feeling better. Are you still coming out here in a few weeks? I HOPE so, I need some girl time. Bella had pneumonia all last week and now has an ear infection…sigh….allergies are just horrible out here so be prepared! We can always do yoga and hit Whole Foods in search of new treasures to bring home!

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 20, 2010 at 5:42 am

Kim, We’re definitely hoping to come out to AZ, but it looks like it might be May now. So eager to get out there before it gets too hot!

Annie (HotFlashBang) March 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm

ahem.. my rules..
1) I never order a drink. Ever. Water, thank you (smile sweetly).
2) I never have the same thing two times in a row. Variety is the spice of life! And ordering things I’ve never tried helps keep me young at heart.
3) along the variety train of thought, if you leave it to me to choose I will choose some obscure place I’ve never been… but if you do choose and then ask me “is that okay” and I say “yes”. I mean it. If it wasn’t, I’d say so. Please don’t continue on for 15 minutes with 15 different choices and each time ask me “is that okay?”. Please, make up your mind or give me the power to choose! uhhhhhh is that okay? ROFL
4) Lastly, if it doesn’t taste fabulous, I won’t eat it. Period. I’d rather be out the money and go home and cook myself something than eat poorly prepared- bad tasting- not worth the calories -food.

Now, I know I need to make reservations in advance if I’m ever out your way… hehe… cool!

M March 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I like how Cynthia said it better, so i’m adopting her comment.

M March 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I am embarrassed to admit that I have similar rules (and even more so, given the veganism), and so awed that you have the confidence and courage to share yours with us. I don’t think having food rules is something to be proud of, and I don’t think it’s the same as “discipline” or being healthy. But if it is what I need to do to avoid relapsing further, I’m doing it, damn it.

Cynthia (It All Changes) March 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm

I have very similar rules and I don’t mind that they make me seem weird they work for me.

melissa March 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm

i honestly thought you were kidding around at first and making fun of people who have rules and I thought…oh this is another fit looking person saying they dont have to work at it at all….and I felt do relieved to hear you were telling the truth! I love your honesty.

I check out the menu before going if I can and bring a full meal in a tupperware container if I know the people I am going with well- if they know me well they are not surprised. Some of that is because I have celiac and get dosed with gluten too often or leave hungry or sad because I wanted something. Although, we have a GF restaurant here and I never order the scones, muffins or the fries- I do order sandwiches when I can get them- sans cheese, any sauce on the side….I sometimes feel sorry for the servers.

My biggest problem is that even with my rules, I have a really hard time maintaining and losing weight and have not found what works for me and it is the #1 frustration/time sucker/brain sucker for me. Trying calorie counting, or not or raw or not, or more fruit or not or more protein or not… is insane and exhausting. I am training for a 1/2 marathon now and have a problem with weight gain now. I cant fit into my last years dresses like I did before the training began. I honestly am not sure what to do and would LOVE any words of wisdom or sane advice/direction you or anyone else can offer. Sorry to go on and on- but the coolest part of what you said is that you found something that worked for you. And all I thought was wow….that would be simply amazing. And heck yeah Id follow the rules!!

I love you blog very much- thanks for your honesty. Of my friends, I am the only odd eater with rules of the bunch!

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Hey Melissa, Thanks for all your kind words. I’m going to email you. πŸ™‚

eatmovelove March 19, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Also – HEAB – don’t think of yourself too much as someone who lost weight and must be careful everyday of keeping it off – don’t define yourself as that. I know alot of studies show that many women still think of themselves in the “old” way. Not saying you do all the time of course!! And what the hell do I know – I have my own problems haha.

Just wanted you to know that You are just YOU. And that is good and enough πŸ˜‰

Shannon March 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm

wow, i have that same debate in my head at mexican every time… i should really feel ok saying no to going out, but i feel like that’s what people want to do :/ i have been playing the guilt game, i should just make some rules so it’s hard and fast! (i don’t know that that’s the right way to use that phrase…)

Arielle March 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

wow! i’ve been reading your blog for a while and haven’t posted a comment, until now. i loved your post and can totally relate (as many other readers already have). you’ve made me feel like much less of a weirdo and i’m glad to know there are other out there like me. many thanks!

Nicole March 19, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Ok first of all, your rule about Mexican food–what goes on in your head–that might as well have been me. I died laughing while I was reading it bc that is SO ME!
I also stay away from the bread basket and usually don’t order dessert.

It’s funny because I dread going out to eat because it’s always an obstacle. I usually check out the menu ahead of time too, but I always have to sub things out and “hold the croutons” and stuff like that. It’s kind of embarrassing because the servers always ask WHY-or look at me like I’m some kind of a freak…like, “Damn if you’re this picky then why the hell are you even out?” Sometimes I ask myself the same question.

Dennis and I ordered from a local Italian place tonight-he wanted pizza so I ordered a chicken ceasar salad (no croutons no dressing of course!) and when it got here, the lettuce looked like it was a day or two old. I was so pissed, called the place back and asked them to credit our credit card (which they did) Dennis was mortified. “Why does everything about food bother you?”
Listen. If I’m ordering food and paying for it, you better damn well be sure it’s good. I would NEVER have served wilted lettuce to a customer in all my years in the food service industry! That’s another one of my rules-when I go out to eat, I want the food to be good! Dont serve me shitty looking food! Or food that’s not cooked the way I ordered it!!

Wow that was a rant. Sorry, the whole salad thing just happened!! Now I’m stuck eating a boring veggie burger.

Speaking of salad, yours looked awesome!

Happy Friday!

eatmovelove March 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I can see where a couple of the negative comments are coming from – because essentially alot of these “rules” would fit all the criteria to classify an eating disorder. so that’s where red flags go up. but I think that’s where the fine line is drawn. if people don’t know you they shouldn’t leave negative comments. and why do people care so much about others?! if someone is copying your lifestyle – well that’s an insane crazy issue altogether right?!!! NUTZ!

i wouldn’t want people telling me that eating dessert every day or night is bad for me…so i get it.

Liz March 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Totally with you HEAB. I ALWAYS have analyzed what I’m going to order on the meu beforehand and have my day planned around how to accommodate a meal out so to speak. I usually order a couple of appetizers for my meal or an appetizer and a salad. That way I get to try something fun from the menu (usually the appetizers are more interesting to me than what’s on the main course anyway) and I get some veggies.

Your salad looks SO yummy. I finally also got around to trying coconut butter and think it’s divine!

BroccoliHut March 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

That salad looks phenom! I’m with Evan–I’ll stare at that all day, thank you.
Interesting food rules; many of them I share with you. While I’ll eat any bread you put in front of me, I do not share entrees, I don’t want an app (unless I am eating it as my meal), and I don’t want dessert. Also, I have no problem asking for a special vegetarian dish–I never feel trapped by the menu:)

homecookedem March 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I used to have a lot of rules eating out, but since I rarely eat out anymore, when I do, it’s usually a special occasion so I just let myself indulge without any rules. But some things I try to do are always ask for dressing on the side, order a side of steamed veggies, load up on things like salsa, and drink a full glass of water before eating my meal. I don’t always do these things, but I’ve found that they can help me avoid temptations if I follow through with them.

You look so gorgeous in that picture. Well, you ALWAYS look gorgeous!! πŸ˜‰

Melissa S. March 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

i don’t touch bread baskets either. and chips and salsa are my enemy.

Jillian March 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Heather…gosh woman…yet again, I am reminded just how much we are alike! I totally cracked up at the “I’ve looked up the menu/nutritional information” part…:)

I have those same conversations over and over every time I eat out! I think my friends are literally tired of the same places I suggest to eat. By the way…totally have a new favorite place…just a few blocks down from the store (Poor Richards). Homemade everything, lots of vegetarian options, whole wheat pizza (by the slice), organic wine (cheap), oh yeah…and the best tasting hummus + hugeass salads ever! πŸ™‚ One happy girl. Can’t wait to take you.

I am off to sushi right this moment…I can’t believe you don’t like it! It is one of my favs (I guess one way we are different:(), and so good for my body (it always digests/uses it for fuel very well).

Hugs and happy weekend to you dear one!

Katie March 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Oh, and I would like to go shopping in your closet. I love the skirt and those shoes are the most comfortable things ever!

Katie March 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Can we talk about how I could have written this post? For real, everything (other than the bread, which I just cant’ eat but will stare longingly at) you said is me to a T. Especially the non-spontaneousity and the hummus. If there is hummus on the table, I don’t care who ordered it, I will be eating some of it. And Mexican restaurants – well, yeah, I usually don’t bother with an entree after the guac and salsa-athon.

MarathonVal March 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I usually don’t like to comment when there are already thousands of other comments up haha, but this was such a fun post to read since I (and clearly every other woman in America!) can identify. I HAVE to look up the menu ahead of time, partially because I love to look forward to a good meal, and partially because I want to make sure I can find something vegan that isn’t just a crappy bite of romaine lettuce. And don’t even get me started on actually ordering…I think I may make my husband read this post so he doesn’t think I’m so crazy when I make 15 modifications and requests for everything I order!

Allie (Protein Girl) March 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Does breading count as bread? Can I eat fried calamari as an appetizer and pretend it’s a slice of whole wheat pita bread? Please say yes.

I love your rules. They’re adorable. Just like you!

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Allie, Yep, fried calamari…whole wheat pita bread in disguise. πŸ˜‰

Rachel @ Suburban Yogini March 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Don’t ask me if I want to order a main course, they are always too big, seriously I can’t eat all that. I will have two appetizers at most. No really. I don’t care how good it is. Do you do it in a child’s portion because I refuse to waste πŸ™‚

anonymous March 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

i will go unnamed for private matters, but this actually makes me quite sad for you, and other bloggers. so much anxiety? restriction? no this or that? rules? dining out should be a fun experience. a time to enjoy company and good food…food that you wouldn’t normally eat on a daily basis. one word: orthorexia.

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 21, 2010 at 4:16 am

Anonymous, I just found this comment in my spam folder and approved it. Call me what you will, but I’m curious to know if you have ever struggled with major weight issues? I know when I post this kind of info. I am going to get negative feedback, and I have to remind myself that many people out there have never walked in my shoes. Were you ever a 20 year old girl 100+ pounds overweight? I don’t know, maybe you were. All I know is that my body does not handle many foods very well. I was not blessed with an amazing metabolism, and that’s okay. I’m at a healthy weight, and I enjoy my food. The only thing I really try to stay away from is sugar. I go out with my friends often, but no, I do not go out to eat 5 nights a week, and nor will you find me splitting a bottle of wine and an ice-cream sundae with girlfriends. Again, my body can’t handle it, and that’s the hand I was dealt. I’d much rather turn down the bread basket and dessert and stay at my current healthy weight than weigh 240 pounds and have diabetes.

April March 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Dude, we have the same brain. I hope yours just didn’t say…don’t call me a dude. πŸ˜‰

Emma March 19, 2010 at 2:04 pm

okay im leaving my second comment… really showing my OCD here! i just had to comment on some of the comments making reference to weird or obsessive behaviour. i can totally see how wanting to know what youre going to eat before hand and planning things out and not sharing and all that stuff is a little weird – and not the totally easy breezy no issue behaviour that might be IDEAL…BUT i think a lot of the alternatives arent that great either!!

my BF NEVER thinks abotu these things – and most of my friends dont either. but then they end up ordering like 500 appetizers, some main course they then say they wish they hadnt chosen (shouldve given urself more time to survey the menu πŸ™‚ ).. and a desert just cos the option is there. my BF pretty much invariably enters a food coma after any meal out (unless ive dragged him to the only raw restaurant in the UK! ) and my friends always email me all the next morning saying they feel guilty (on either a physcial or financial level!) and why didnt i stop them ordering the random and really gross sundae… They then say they arent eating breakfast OR lunch now … etc etc…

So for all my weirdness i know i always feel pretty perky after any meal out – never skip breakast the next day … and im sure HEABIE doesnt either!! a little pragmatism and restraint never killed anybody – quite the opposite i think. Go HEABIE (and ur honesty!) xx

kate March 19, 2010 at 2:04 pm

My restaurant rules:
1. Relax – because you’re paying for it. There’s no reason to stress about bad service, or long waits or small mistakes. You’re paying for the convenience of someone else shopping, cooking, presenting, and cleaning up for you! Don’t make an easy situation stressful!

2. Observe your defaults! This means: side salad is the default over french fries (regardless of what the menu says!), water is the default over all other drinks, lower-calorie items are preferred but not always necessary.

3. Order as seasonally as possible.

4. Recognize that sometimes you gotta throw out your defaults!

5. If you insist on an appetizer or dessert, I’m going to share it with you.

6. I can be swayed into eating out just about any meal of any day with 5 minutes notice.

I’m feeling very low on the food anxiety scale! Yes!!

Lori March 19, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Those rules are awesome. I laughed at some. Agreed at others. Nicely put!

Donca March 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I can totally relate to your rules. I definitely look online days before going to the restaurant to research all nutritional info. I also typically have my meals planned in my head so sometimes I am not up to eating out. Personally I don’t think that it interferes with me having a great time with friends. I think that there are lots of activities that aren’t centered around food I am a person much like you Heather that enjoys making my own food, As an adult we have choices and we do not have to go out to eat just because someone asks. I think that there could be cause for concern if you never go out but as long as there is balance there is nothing wrong with having rules.

Carolyn March 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm

This is a hot button issue with me…

Heather you go girl … Restaurants are a BUSINESS that depends on people buying/eating as much of whatever they are $erving as possible.. without regard to helping size, nutritional content, or what is going to happen to those people down the line.. Nothing but a business… And all of it dangeled in front of patrons like a shiny piece of tinsel to a cat… People why do you think they fight so hard to keep nutritional labeling off the menus ???

I would no more consider myself “healthy” by going to a restaurant and eating everything in sight as a “treat”, or being nonchalant about what i put in my body for any reason…any more than than i would feel ok drinking a pint of vodka as a treat… I consider myself healthy and sane for having some controls and actually not doing it..

I do not consider myself a control freak over food at all.. Don’t you either.. You are showing control in an uncontroled world of food in the States… Life is not something where the healthy person does not care what they put in their mouth, or somehow is more laid back than the next person about it. Well, the food service/ mass marketing businesses would like you to think so…

Ok i feel better now and am going to go eat some coconut buttah or something..!!! πŸ™‚

Lindsey March 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Heather – that is SO ME TOO!!! Lol, you hit the nail on the head!

A Different Evan March 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Yes, reading this makes me feel a little less crazy. I have a similar monologue going on in my head…pretty much all day long. I’m not yet 3 months into being “sober” regarding food and exercise; I threw myself into it and even though I’m still in the honeymoon phase with it all, I’ve dropped some meaningful weight, and I like to think I’m not going to go back to the bad old days. With kids and a busy life however, I find myself in restaurants a lot, which does require a lot of positive self-talk.

Anne March 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Glad to know someone else out there does #4 πŸ™‚

Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday March 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm

#4 is sooo me.

charlotte March 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Ha! You and I would be the perfect dining companions. We’d both be so caught up in our internal dialogues that we’d never notice the other’s idiosyncrasies! I have lots of restaurant rules. Lots and lots and lots. But I’m working on paring them down for the sake of flexibility.

Fay March 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I follow your blog silently b/c I find it very interesting. Your rules, I understand them and had them once myself. Having suffered from anorexia then bulimia for 7 years, I HAD LOTS of rules. After recovering, I shed them and with them my anxiety about food. I guess you could say I did a 180 b/c I know eat and enjoy food. I also work out and find balance there. πŸ˜‰

jenny March 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

A lot of people have those rules, but arent brave enough to talk about them- congrats!

MaryZ March 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I have similar rules:
1. No basket of any sort (ie bread,chips,crackers)
2. No appetizer unless its going to be my meal
3. No dessert..I’m too full to enjoy it any way
4. Invite me early, cause I have a hard time being spontaneous
5. I’ll share, but only if its something I really want but don’t want the temptation of eating the whole thing by myself. Usually this involves something battered and fried with french fries:)
6. I try really hard to order something I don’t make at home but is still healthy.

Thanks for sharing!

janetha March 19, 2010 at 12:58 pm

this was awesome. i found myself nodding along to everything you said. AGREED!

Marissa March 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Rules? Oh lord yes.

1. I won’t be going to any restaurant where I cannot order anything on the menu…and if the only think I can eat is a $12 salad I won’t be going either.

2. Don’t bring me bread, I won’t eat it…even if it is on my plate. In fact because I hate waste I am a “Sally” i.e. I am the chick who says “I want the Greek salad without feta, and no onions, and no vinaigrette, and no pita, but please put hummus on the side.” i kid you not. that was my lunch yesterday. Oh but there is one switch, Matt was with me so we got the pita…and I had a piece.

3. I don’t order rice, or eat rice…unless i order sushi. that is when I make an exception.

4. No noodles, unless I order Bun at a Vietnamese place, that is where I make an exception.

5. I pretty much don’t order grains unless I make an exception for a specific restaurant (like the vegan gluten free bakery I go to for breakfast sometimes, or when we get sushi, or tonight like when I order fresh rolls at my favorite Vietnamese place).

6. no dessert, unless like yesterday it was my birthday and I got a monster piece of birthday cake at the vegan-gluten free bakery. I will be polishing off the other half of the piece tonight. I like to make it last. I too don’t want to share dessert. i honestly prefer to make my own once I get home and feel good after eating it.

Unless it s a very special occasion.

Basically I make exceptions for things but not every week, and I won’t make exceptions unless I know it is going to be worth it.

dana March 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

i loved this post!!!
i feel like you live in my head πŸ™‚ haha!! you’re not the only one!

Lauren @ Eater not a runner March 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I like to look at a menu before to check it out and see what I would get, but I LOVE to share things! I always want to taste more things on the menu. And if I’m not hungry I’ll just go out with friends and order a small salad instead, I don’t want to miss out on the fun!!

Amy @ Second City Randomness March 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Ahahaha. I’m so with you on the majority of those rules! There’s definitely no spur of the moment dining for me- my day of meals have been planned long before you asked to go for a quick bite randomly, thanks… :p

Becky @ flybynyght March 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm

My rules:
– I don’t eat out often (once every few months), so I get what I want, no matter what it is.
– I never eat dessert – it’s not very appealing to me, really.
– If I don’t want something, I won’t eat, and I won’t try it to make you happy…
That’s about it… πŸ™‚

Sandi March 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Haha, it’s so funny to read everyone’s eating-out rules and quirks! I have a lot of the same ones too. My mom and I have similar tastes in food and when I go out to eat with her I’ve learned that I HAVE to order the same thing she does, or else I’ll spend the entire meal looking at her plate and wishing I had…and since I have the same no-sharing deal (like Lara said it just “messes everything up”!) I wouldn’t ask for a bite.

Susan March 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I guess my number one rule is that I won’t eat what I don’t want to eat, aka something that is 100% deliciousness. This makes it easy to pass on the stuffed mushrooms, soggy fries, and lame iceberg salads with jack cheese because I just don’t enjoy them! However, if that bread basket had a grainy cornbready muffin with apple cinnamon butter, you’re gonna have to arm wrestle me for it!

And I don’t like to share either ; )

Mara @ What's For Dinner? March 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm

You and i agree on so much!! And, that salad looks amazing…anything with bacon and goat cheese is good in my book πŸ™‚

Katie March 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

My in-laws take us out to eat once a week, and I get anxiety every week. They are not as health conscious as I am, so it’s usually a place with very few options. However, I usually try to treat that once a week dine out as my “indulgent meal” and try to get over it. But you are not alone – I would rather just prepare and enjoy my own meal!

allison March 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm

oh wow! That’s intense. I commend you for knowing what works for you and sticking with it! I don’t think I could ever have such self control but it’s inspiring to see people who do. πŸ™‚

Jen March 19, 2010 at 11:58 am

Love this post!

I pretty much, with little exception, always look up a restaurant’s menu, pre-meal. I like to plan and I enjoy being prepared…it drives my husband crazy, at times, but it works for me. I really just don’t like to make people wait, while I peruse (i.e. find something that satisfies both my tastes and my dietary needs) the menu and then modify my menu option. So, really I’m just being considerate of others…right!?

I, on the other hand, get excited for others to sample my meal if I feel that I have chosen one that impresses my taste buds…and, thankfully, my girl friends usually feel the same. So, if one day we find ourselves sharing a meal together, I will know not to expect the same. I’m really glad we got that out in the open…could’ve been really awkward. πŸ™‚

Enjoy your weekend!

BTW…picked up a kabocha squash today and can’t wait to roast it up!

aka March 19, 2010 at 11:53 am

hi heather,

i appreciate that everyone has their own opinions and routines about going out to eat, and hope this won’t come across as harsh or judgemental, it’s really just out of curiosity. you say that you couldn’t suddenly go out to eat dinner with a friend if asked fairly last minute because you would have already calculated everything etc… do you not wonder if that hinders you from what could have been a really great evening out with a friend, that you missed out on just because you were being so strict about your eats?

i believe that food = fuel, but also one of life’s many pleasures, which i’m sure you do too since you always create and eat such delicious things. because of that, i love to go out and share dishes and savour different foods with friends – eating in restaurants is a treat, and the whole experience of stepping outside your boundaries and being able to be a “social eater” is, to me, one of the main enjoyments of going out for a meal with people.

again, this is all just my point of view, it’s just that your many and strict rules slightly alarmed me… i could never sacrifice the social happiness of such situations with all those rules boxing me in.

theemptynutjar March 19, 2010 at 11:45 am

try to relax heather. sounds like u have a lot of internal food struggles and that is not necessarily healthy.
that said, you have a unique history and mind so who am i to assume?

u certainly are different from Jenna at ELR…she eats whatever is there!…everyone certainly is different i suppose. to each their own.

anyway, i think u both look beautiful.

i have a nasty feverish cold now too. Thankfully I can eat still πŸ™‚

Graze With Me March 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

“I am not a spontaneous diner-outer.” <— me either! I hate it when I've just eaten a snack and then someone calls me up for a drink or dinner out. It just makes me uncomfortable and then they get uncomfortable being the only one who orders food. It's just a mess. I'm a planner!

I refuse to eat anything communal. It's just icky and usually fried or cheesy.

ilanalala March 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

I try to make eating out as low-maintenance as possible by scoping out the menu beforehand and figuring out what I can and cannot eat. Usually, lately, I just order a big salad or lots of vegetable sides. If it’s only once in a while, I’ll indulge in something awesome, but for instance my dad and I have a weekly lunch date and he and I are both conscious eaters and always end up ordering obnoxious custom plates of salad (“hold the cheese, no egg, dressing on the side,” blah blah). Usually when I go out to eat with my boyfriend, he orders something I have NO INTEREST in eating at all and he knows that I don’t want it so I don’t touch it (although I don’t mind stealing one or two of his french fries on occasion…one or two fries a month won’t kill ya). I rarely eat out at restaurants where I’m not 100% familiar with the menu, and when I do, I usually know in advance and have a chance to check it out online beforehand and pick out what I want. I’d do this anyway – I get really overwhelmed when presented with a lot of different choices and have to decide on the spot, and this just helps me decide what I *really* want so I don’t just go with the same ol’ same ol’ because I got intimidated! Haha see you’re not the only control freak who overthinks things.

Heather March 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

Your rules for eating out sound just like mine. The only time I allow myself to indulge in restaurants is after my husband and I go backpacking; I feel like I have earned it after lugging around a 30+ pound bag and hiking 10 or 20 miles.

VeggieGirl March 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

You already know my insane rules, haha πŸ˜‰ Love ya!

Katelyn March 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

Oh my gosh, you just wrote out my entire brain ramblings over eating food!! My mom thinks I’m nuts and seriously need help, but now that I know someone else is as obsessive about their food as me, I am seriously stoked πŸ™‚ You have made my day HEAB – thank you for sharing “our” restaurant rules!

Mama Pea March 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

I don’t remember writing this post…when did I find the time? πŸ™‚ I pretty much won’t go somewhere that doesn’t have an online menu that I can check out the night, okay WEEK before and decide what I’m going to order beforehand. I think this is what was so fun about Hawaii…I just winged it!!!

I hope you have a great weekend, hon!

Ana March 19, 2010 at 11:06 am

“I’ve probably already analyzed the menu online, looked up the nutritional information if available, and have made my decision based on everything else I’ve already eaten that day. My mind is made up”
That is me !!!!
You are definitely not alone! I don’t order dessert either and don’t like to share it (unless it is ice cream and I didn’t eat too much for my meal), also I too skip the bread basket, and the one that comes in the plate too, as most times it is not the healthy kind I like.
I always try to look up menus and see what I would like to order too!!!
And my worse one is that I hate to go out for dinner…. I love going out for lunch, but eating out at night is horrible for my stomach. I so wish people would eat better/more for lunch as opposed for dinner, it makes all the sense as we need the energy for the day activities. I have going to bed on a full stomach of food I didn’t make.
I think I just enjoy healthy foods and cooking so much that I usually am totally disappointed by restaurant foods… it is usually so salty and greasy for me. I guess we get used to home cooked healthy meals! (which is a great thing, at least in my book!)
Nice salad you got though!!!

Lara (Thinspired) March 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

Ok, I’ll email you later but I also just want to comment too πŸ˜‰

Ditto on asking me to share something or change my pre-planned order. I have already looked it up and analyzed the nutrition facts. BUT to be even more of an enjoyable dining partner (sarcasm), do not ask to share a bite with me off your plate or borrow a bite off mine. That would mess everything up.

Wow, we would (will) make quite a pair in a restaurant, wouldn’t we? Hehe. The only exception is when I already have it in my head that it’s a “free” night. I HATE that I do this, but it does happen. In that case, all rules are off, and please pass the bread basket.

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

Lara, I’m horrible, but I always give CD the evil eye whenever he asks for a bite of my food – you’re right, it messes everything up. Of course I then feel bad and give him a bite and make sure to take a bite of his to make up for the lost calories. πŸ˜‰

Lara (Thinspired) March 19, 2010 at 10:49 am

Oh gosh, I love this πŸ˜‰ I am emailing you.

courtney March 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

I actually do not have rules for eating out, but have crazy rules for compensating ahead of time when I know I will be eating out… or when it is even a possibility. It is actually a really bad habit and leaves me hungry most of the day and then stuffed after dinner. Maybe I should come up with some rules so that I can just eat normal portions during the day AND at the meal! It is interesting how will power works… thanks for giving me something to think about (as usual :)) and for being someone else on the planet who doesn’t like sushi πŸ˜‰

Runeatrepeat March 19, 2010 at 10:37 am

I try not to have super stringent rules because it just sets off a binge. If I deny myself something I really want at a restaurant I’ll end up coming home and eating something else – even if I’m full. Boo.
But – I do always ask for dressing on the side, no cheese on salads if I’m going to use dressing and extra veggies in dishes πŸ™‚

Oh – I always try some of Ben’s food (and anyone else that’s family). I ALWAYS steal fries if someone at the table has them. Always. And I wish more people would steal my food so I don’t eat so much. But – NEVER steal my ice cream. NEVER.

Carbzilla March 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

High Five, fellow control-freak! Maybe it’s good we’re all spread out in the USA. But at least we would “get it” at lunch together (I can just picture 5 women yelling NO at the poor waiter when he asks to bring the bread basket).

Helllooooo…..I’m the one who just posted the link to menus I’m going to eat from 8 weeks from now! I hear ya, sister.

Yes, Deb is right – 14 chips is about a serving, but your experience is exactly why we don’t go out to Mexican very often.

That salad looks amazing! I’d meet you for a pre-arranged, place-of-your-choice lunch anytime!

chau March 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

i always say bring on more bread…even though ive had my share. dipping bread in evoo is a yummy treat

Lena March 19, 2010 at 10:29 am

i think i’m almost similar to you Heather, i’m clear on what i want and do not want and would have done my ‘homework’ (online), planned my meals around it… and my friends who have known me long enough, are used to my entire string of request when i order, and it amuses them. πŸ™‚ but i love bread, hence i try to limit myself to a slice or a roll and if the roll’s huge, i’d either eat the crust or the inside, depending on my mood πŸ™‚

Quix March 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

I’m the opposite. Whatever you order, I AM going to have a bite unless we don’t know each other well. I figure I’m better off getting something healthy and having a bite of unhealthy than ordering it myself. My hubbs and I will plan restaurant food around each of us having some of the others. To his chagrin. πŸ™‚

danielle March 19, 2010 at 10:21 am


I ALWAYS pick the crust off the bread in the basket…then give the “innards” to my boyfriend to eat. It feels better that way πŸ™‚

Lindsay March 19, 2010 at 10:17 am

haha, you can dine out with me anytime (okay maybe once a month), because we have basically the same rules. I’m already planning out dinner. oh and Love that bacon!

Janelle March 19, 2010 at 10:17 am

I don’t think we would do well eating out together! When I go out, I consider it a “treat” and use it as a chance to get something I would never eat/make at home. I love the bread basket, and love sharing meals so that I can sample as many tasty-sounding dishes as possible. However, the hubby and I go out so rarely (perhaps once every two months? even less?) that I definitely relax my “must have veggies and protein at this meal” mentality and just go for it – and if I have room and it sounds good, I DEFINITELY order dessert!

M. March 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

Thought you might enjoy this meal…

I’ve been loving microwaved(so much quicker!)sweet potato with a bit of sea salt and goats cheese feta prinkled on top,with a side of avocado (important-take a little avocado and sweet pot. in each bite-yum!!!!)

Bon Appetit!

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 11:31 am

M. Yes, I would definitely enjoy that meal! πŸ™‚

Carolyn March 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

hahaha..Heather i can so relate to your rules with a couple exceptions. I won’t eat at a Mexican restaurant. It’s like a personal crack house to me. I will go and be very fun, but will eat at home.. No control…

Lunch is my meal out.. if you call me at 4pm i will probably have just finished eating dinner!

I will get an appetizer for myself.. As long as it’s shrimp cocktail or some awesome tower of raw seafood with crab, avocado, and tomato….. oh, and i call it my meal…

I am Meg Ryan at the restaurant ordering for sure.. Doesn’t go over well sometimes with haters or people out to eat to be on a food bender……I take a lot of crap…but, too bad my pants still fit the next day… πŸ™‚

Bread…depends on how interesting it looks… πŸ˜›

Love your meal analyzer chart.. Please keep that up…!

Emma March 19, 2010 at 10:10 am

2 words. SOUL MATES. but u knew that already right?? i SO feel u on number 2. we usually eat out once a week as well but i start talking about it like 4 days before ‘ do you think we should get thai on friday? or how about pizza? or steak?’ (inner voice ‘please tell me right now so i can a) get excited b) plan all meals for earlier that day in respect of balance and total calories).
i then take like an hour to decide and once i order change my mind and chase the waiter round the restaurant to tell him my new decision. i DONT share food cos it means u have to eat at other peoples pace and i get totally confused about how much im eating and always end up too full. i DONT do appetizers – unless i am doing only appetizer and desert. i WILL order a side salad – unless i have already changed the side of chips to salad. dressing on the side please. anything else….? oh yeah – can i have either mustard, horseradish or hot sauce (whichever is most culturally appropriate) with whatever i order. oh and i do pick from the bread basket, but im weak like that. sometimes i just eat the crust from around the slice though. weirdo alert!!
im emailing u back later today. and i 100% echo the gorgeous comment – i want your hair! xx

mwoody March 19, 2010 at 10:06 am

i totally know what you mean about the whole “control freak” about what goes into your food thing. I can’t stand eating out and just knowing im surrounded by the calorie bombs many call “dinner” that really could feed a small family. glad to know im not alone in looking up as much info about a restaurant before i go eat there

JavaChick March 19, 2010 at 10:04 am

I don’t really have rules, but I’m opposite from you when it comes to the bread basket; I might eat bread from the bread basket (if it’s good bread) but rarely eat bread that comes with my meal (most restaurant servings are too much for me to eat and I’d rather eat the other stuff first).

Michelle R March 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

HEAB, I think you are awesome for sticking to it even when eating out. That says a lot about self discipline. I don’t think you are extreme in any way (after reading your blog for a few months, it seems you are more open than most that write raw or vegan or specialty food blogs).
As for my own rules, we rarely go out to eat. Like maybe once a month. But … (sheepish grin) I don’t really have any rules when we do, except that I try to get a lot of veggies and protein in, with minimal fat. Grilled chicken, salads, etc. I guess I do have one rule – I only drink water. Guilty of chip eating … Mexican is my FAVORITE and all will power is destroyed by chips and salsa. Especially yogurt salsa at Las Olas in San Diego .. mmmmm. πŸ™‚

Also – tried your coconut butter the other day – DELISH! I haven’t had Artisana’s (I can’t get it very easily and it is expensive!) so I can’t compare, but I don’t even care. I am just glad to have this amazing-ness in my pantry!! Thank you thank you! PS – it did take about 15 minutes in my cuisinart, and I didn’t really try to do 5 more to get rid of the graininess.

Tell CD my taste buds thank him! πŸ™‚

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 9:37 am

Michelle, So glad you enjoyed your coconut butter, and thanks for thanking CD. He was bummed that I keep getting all the credit. Ha-ha.

Kelly March 19, 2010 at 9:30 am

You are gorgeous…you know that right?! I love your outfit!

Your rules were cracking me up…I could most relate to number 2. I am NOT a spontaneous eater either…ever. Drives the hubs nuts! haha!

Gina March 19, 2010 at 9:29 am

I am *almost* the same, except I love dessert. Although that’s probably because we can only get vegan dessert at select places.

Lindsey March 19, 2010 at 9:27 am

As a celiac it’s easy to pass up the bread basket in restaurants as well πŸ™‚
Mexican is my weak spot too! But I NEVER touch the chip basket. I always order a side of corn tortillas and add salsa+guac and make a mini taco while my friends are munching on the oil infused tortilla chips. Plus, freshly made warm corn tortillas sound much more appetizing than the chips.
I don’t like eating out with large groups of people…especially at sushi restaurants. I love sushi – it’s one of my favorite cuisines, but if i’m going with a large group of people it bothers me when everyone wants to share everything. But since I have to be gluten free, I can just tell them sorry I need to order my own food (and i think to myself, no you’re not allowed to have any! πŸ™‚ )

From Party To Hearty March 19, 2010 at 9:22 am

Those rules don’t sound crazy! I am pretty much the same way. That salad looks really yummy too. Love the analysis!

danielle March 19, 2010 at 9:19 am

Oh Heather, you’re rules make me smile. No, you are not the only crazy one—in fact, mine are probably a bit worse πŸ™‚ I think my friends and family dread going out to dinner with me! I love that I’m not the only one who won’t dine out on late notice–I literally have to prep in my head all day for it! And the chips…darn the chip basket!

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) March 19, 2010 at 9:19 am

Hey Heabie! Great that you know what works for you and have made your rules and stick to them.

Can I just say that I love the comment about not going to sushi a) because you already have your meal planned and b) you don’t like sushi LOL!

ALso loved your diagramatic salad. Awesome!

I’m a bit different about going out to eat b/c I do so probably 4 days a week. I know it sounds like a crazy lot, but one of the “fun” parts of going to doctors appts, cancer hospitals, radiation etc with my Dad is the lunch part. So we go to lunch whenever we have an appt.

My rules: try not to eat out more than once in a day. Get dressings and sauces on the side. Ask for less oil. DO share desserts and apps to get tastes of everything but not the caloric whamo. Yes, eat the bread or chips but ONLY if they are amazing, and try to stop at two pieces of bread. Try not to eat out late, but if it happens, have a smoothie in the afternoon to tide me over. I love sharing/splitting because I love to sample (Allie & I did this a lot when she visited). We all roll differently but get to the same place- interesting huh!

By the way a “serving” of chips is 15 *usually! Twice what you usually “allow” yourself!

Thanks for sharing your rules though. I always learn something new from you!

Anna March 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

My rules? Savor everything, have fun, and don’t chug too much water cause then I get all bloated and it feels blech.

midgetkeeper March 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

I really don’t have any rules when eating out. We do it so rarely, maybe once every 6 months so I do indulge in moderation of course.

eatmovelove March 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

P.S Beets are soooo good! Never had golden though…

eatmovelove March 19, 2010 at 9:08 am

I guess everybody’s different. I think that you should do what you want. But try to relax alittle and not be so strict or hard on yourself all the time HEAB!! Gosh, food is not about internal debates nor is it something that should be overly thought about. When you go out, the focus should be on the friends and surroundings I think and just go with the flow. I’m glad you do relax on vacation though!! I also understand that you are different from me and have had quite a journey and experience, so do what works and feels right to you!!

…meanwhile – you can pass the breadbasket to me πŸ˜‰

Tiffany P. March 19, 2010 at 9:08 am

I usually order off the GF menu (most places have them now days). If thats not available i order a delicious burger with out the bun (they will wrap lettuce around it instead) and a side salad instead of french fires.

Jen March 19, 2010 at 9:06 am

That is so funny – love this line “I’m a control freak, I know, but I need to know what’s going into my food. After losing weight, I know what I can and can’t have, and I know what it takes to keep the weight off. Preparing and enjoying my own meals just makes me happy and keeps me sane.”

That totally sums me up. I love to try new vagan/raw/veggie restaurants, but after that I don’t love eating out. I love to cook and when I cook I know what I am putting into my food. No excess fat, butter, lard, whatever the heck they use at places!

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) March 19, 2010 at 9:01 am

Dang, you are my soulmate for going out! I have all of the same rules!!! I am not spontaneous about going out to eat. I am definitely a control freak as far as food goes. I will tell you that you have seriously helped me let go of some of control issues. I have really started to explore better fat options and I even (on purpose) ate the whole egg the other day! I know, crazy. Since I have dairy and soy issues…and my husband can’t have wheat…eating out it totally different. We have to know what we are eating before we walk out the door, since a lot of the staff at restaurants don’t know anything about food allergens! Glad you are feeling better.

Sunshine March 19, 2010 at 8:58 am

I have been known to go to a restaurant and just order water…(this is ONLY with my husband’s family who like to eat at horrid places that only serve hot dogs. I cannot abide hot dogs). Anyway, after losing a bunch of weight myself, I absolutely understand the crazy rules and dialogue that goes on in your head while at a restaurant. I have a hard time just going and enjoying myself!

jacobc March 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

I don’t do bread OR pasta OR chips! ha! So normally i go for the meat πŸ˜‰ Chicken or seafood or mexican..

Good thing for cereal/ potatoes/ and balance bars, i have to have me some carbs!

And no way am i sharing!! ;-p
The exception may be two straws in a milkshake with the GF for dessert.

I have been to provence once- that was a few years back, i forgot what i got but it wasn’t very good- and my company wasn’t impressed either, so i have never been back..

Gena March 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

I’m actually a pretty chillaxed restaurant goer. I have to do it all the time for dating and for work, so I stopped stressing a while ago. Of course, being a vegan means being picky, but I’m pretty ballsy about saying what I want modified, and how!! No shame there. And I’m also relaxed about having certain pasta dishes or whatnot that I wouldn’t usually eat if I were cooking at home. Getting comfy with restaurants again was a huge part of my ED recovery in college, so I’m very glad that the capacity to enjoy eating out has stuck!

Jenn March 19, 2010 at 8:41 am

“Oooops” about the bread…ha ha ha!!! I DO that ALL THE TIME!!!!

My “rules” depend on my current goals. Right now due to trying to pay off debt, we are not really going out to eat much so it would be silly to have rules. I am the same way with Mexican food….CHIPS….it’s scary how much I can eat…probably 1/2 my body weight.

Abbey March 19, 2010 at 8:41 am

Well, I think you perfectly summed it up for me. I agree with everything, especially #4. My husband and I went out one night last week for a friends birthday dinner at a tapas place. Ugh. Hate, hate, hate it for so many reasons.
1. pretty much nothing healthy. at all.
2. When you are with a group of 12 you are lucky to get even one bite of each dish
3. You are splitting the check with all of these people including the guy who seriously bogarted the ONE teensy dish you wanted ($12 hummus).

Sorry to rant, I feel better πŸ™‚ Never going to tapas places ever again. As if I didn’t already have enough anxiety going out to eat.

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

Abbey, Sounds like my idea of hell.

erintakescontrol March 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

My rules are similar to yours, however restaurants around here are utterly pathetic in their offerings and there are two restaurants, both 45 minutes away, that I will actually eat at. I end up dining there by myself, because no one I know will eat there with me! Such weirdos…

Kat March 19, 2010 at 8:23 am

Love the list!!! I think i need to print it out and hand it to certain friends and family members who think i am the only one with “crazy eating rules” πŸ™‚ I follow your rules almost to a T with the exception of #5, I don’t like chips (gasp!) so that is not really an issue for me.

nicole @ making good choices March 19, 2010 at 8:23 am

I don’t really like eating how because I like to also know what’s going in my food. I will eat out of the bread basket. I hate when you ask for food a certain way (like steamed w no butter) and it comes with a ton anyway.

Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty March 19, 2010 at 8:23 am

This got me thinking I should HAVE some rules!!! I got crazy in restaurants, sometimes. Especially sushi!! eek!!

Jennifer Trigo March 19, 2010 at 8:20 am

You are definitely NOT ALONE. I sometimes get upset with myself because I feel bad for being so demanding and strict. It makes it hard to choose places to eat when I am with others. I usually try and pack my own food if I know that meal time will be coming up and I don’t know where I will be. I also carried boiled eggs with me quite often:P (it has saved me before!) I am super glad that you made this post. I follow a lot of your rules as well and it is good to hear that I am not alone as well.

Thanks! <3

skinnyrunner March 19, 2010 at 8:13 am

i dont have any food rules but maybe i need some…. i can destroy a basket or two of chips at a mexican restuarant. they are always better (and greasier) than when you eat them at home…

mary-kate March 19, 2010 at 8:05 am

hi heather, i’ve never left a comment before, but i’m a daily reader and LOVE your blog and your attitude and your food. you’ve gotten me hooked on tahini forever.

and i’m so glad to read your rules! i know everyone’s different, and i have friends who can easily “let loose” when they eat out and not have any rules and maintain their weight just fine, but after fighting extra weight for years and finally getting it off, i am hard core about my own little rules. i also don’t like food surprises. i like to have a plan, whether i’m eating in or out, and i don’t like to share. i treat myself plenty, but i like to be in control of it, not treat myself just because someone else tells me to! it often makes me feel like i’m too stringent when i compare myself to others, so i’m glad to hear i’m not alone! and while i love a good night out with friends, i’m most happy when i’m at home, fixing something just to my specifications, knowing just went in and loving every bite!

anyway, thanks for a wonderful blog and for so many wonderful, healthy food ideas.

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 8:06 am

Thanks for reading Mary-Kate. πŸ™‚

lainie March 19, 2010 at 8:04 am

…. its like you read my mind and wrote down my “rules”…although “rules” sounds so dogmatic… I prefer to use “quirks” πŸ˜‰

btw: between you, paula dean, and kevin from top chef, there was just too much peer pressure to start eating bacon. I had not eating porcine since I was maybe, um, like 12? But on Dec 31 of 2009, I went out to dinner and ordered a salad that contained bacon and did NOT ask them to leave it off πŸ™‚

I can not get enough.

Thank you.

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 8:05 am

Lainie, On behalf of Paula, Kevin, and myself, you’re welcome. πŸ™‚

Angharad (Eating for England) March 19, 2010 at 7:58 am

I think a lot of people have rules like that although I bet a lot of people aren’t as honest and open about them as you!

I actually am probably going to annoy you and say that I don’t really have any rules when I eat out! I don’t do it very often (3-10 times a month max) and since I am a pretty healthy eater most of the time, eating out is a pleasure that I like to enjoy fully (aka cheese burger, fries, the whole shebang). Although if I am going somewhere that offers legit delicious healthy options, I’ll go for them in a second – that salad you had for lunch looks a.m.a.z.i.n.g!!

kristy March 19, 2010 at 7:56 am

Wow! You’re really disciplined. Eating out is one of my BIGGEST downfalls. My husband and I love good restaurants, so on the weekend we’ll go to Marche for brunch and J.Alexander’s for dinner…etc. It’s not unusual to eat out twice a day on the weekend. Since I’m a teacher, I (luckily) can’t go out for lunch, so I eat all home-made during the week, but on the weekend, all bets are off. This is actually an area I’m determined to work on!

On a side note, what do you do when you’re on vacation? I know some people go totally nuts and get a Vitamix suitcase thing, and I won’t go that far, but I always come back feeling yuck from eating out for days on end.

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 7:59 am

Kristy, I usually just relax around all my rules during vacation, and just do my best to keep things healthy. I make sure to get in a lot of walks, and realize that I’m not going to gain 10 pounds in one week. I do pack snacks, and Chris and I will usually go to local grocery stores for all our favorites. It’s never been a big deal.

Tracy March 19, 2010 at 7:53 am

I can’t wait to see how you duplicate that dressing…sounds amazing!!

jessica March 19, 2010 at 7:50 am

My rules-
Always meet good friends for lunch…it makes it taste much better,
Always order dessert and make them take a picture,
And…always wear matching shoes πŸ™‚

Oh..and for my REAL food rules…if it is supposed to be hot, I want it HOT, and if it is supposed to be cold, I want it COLD…please dont bring me luke warm coffee, or melting ice cream, yuck!…and if it begins to cool and looks like something that would harden my arteries, a.k.a. queso or anything of the like, no thanks.
Glad you are feeling better! See ya next week.

molly @FuelHerUp March 19, 2010 at 7:49 am

Although I should add that usually I don’t feel like eating dessert (very rarely are restaurant desserts appealing to me, except when I was in Paris and London πŸ˜‰ ) and I don’t like to take bites off of other people’s meals.

molly @FuelHerUp March 19, 2010 at 7:48 am

I don’t believe in food rules – I just eat what I want, in a balance of proteins, carbs, and if possible healthy fats, until I’m full. Sometimes I’ll treat myself, depending on how I’m feeling. Sure, every once in a while that leads to feeling a little over-full, but I also don’t have to stress out if a friend wants to meet me for lunch at the last minute.

Evan Thomas March 19, 2010 at 7:45 am

Can I just stare at that salad all day? Peppered bacon and goat cheese. HIYA
I won’t touch the bread basket, I don’t want to “sample” someone else’s food or split with them, and I’m usually just never spontaneous about much. At least compared to me we’re “normal” πŸ˜€

Heather Eats Almond Butter March 19, 2010 at 7:47 am

Ha ha. Thanks Evan. πŸ™‚

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