Surviving a Chinese Restaurant

One of my favorite types of food is Chinese. My tastes in Chinese food have varied and evolved over time, but I have always enjoyed a good, spicy, Chinese dinner. My current favorite is Chicken with Hot Pepper & Peanuts (aka Kung Pao Chicken). We like to go to a restaurant called Chopstick House near where we live. The atmosphere is nice, the food is always good, the service is fast and courteous, and the prices are reasonable. On Wednesday of this week my wife, daughter and I decided to go out for Chinese, and so a trip to Chopstick House was on the agenda.

As I have mentioned before, I am  a person who likes to clean my plate. When I see that giant, dinner size portion of food that Chinese restaurants serve, I see it as a challenge… something I must conquer. Before we left I did a quick check on the Weight Watchers application, and found out that generically a restaurant portion of King Pao Chicken is 20 points. The serving size to get to that amount is 22 ounces, or about one and one half pounds. This, of course, would be without any rice or soup. I could see how this was going to add up in my dinner.

As a quick aside, one thing I remembered hearing in a Weight Watchers meeting was the saying “if you can halve it you can have it.” The idea being that I can have anything I want that I used to eat, if I can discipline myself to have about half what I would normally. I decided to use this approach on my trip to Chopstick House.

Ordinarily, this is what I would have eaten:

  • A full order of Kung Pao Chicken – about 22 ounces, or 20 points
  • All of the brown rice – about 1.5 cups, or 8 points
  • A “cup” of Hot and Sour Soup – about 1.5 cups total, or 3points
  • A spring roll (shrimp) – 5 points
  • A small bowl of those fried won tons – 10 points (conservatively, maybe more)
  • A fortune cookie – 1 point
  • Total – approximately 46. My total allowance for the day is 64 points.

Using the “have it if you halve it” concept, here is what I actually ate:

  • HALF of the Kung Pao chicken – 10 points (brought the rest home for another meal)
  • 1 cup of brown rice – 5 points
  • 1.5 cups of Hot and Sour Soup – 3 points
  • NO SPRING ROLL – 0 points (I don’t really like spring rolls anyway)
  • NO FRIED WON TONS – 0 points (took some discipline, but I did it!)
  • .5 Fortune cookie (I actually bit it in half) – 0 points
  • My total 18 points!

The Kung Pao Chicken I didn’t eat, and brought home.

By being smart about only eating the parts of the meal I really enjoy, and limiting the highest point items to about half, I managed to shave 60% of the points off of the meal. Usually I come home from a trip out for Chinese feeling bloated and dizzy. But that night I came home feeling energized. And, I had another full meal in the fridge for the next night. I saved points, I eliminated the nasty feeling, and I saved money.

I love eating out with friends and family. I cherish the social aspect of the meal. One of the things that I love about Weight Watchers is that it is not a diet of elimination. There was nothing about WW that dictated what I should, or should not eat. I succeeded in this meal because I made informed, smart, healthy choices, not because some diet said I should avoid this or that. This journey for me is about re-training my brain to think differently about food. That was a good trip to Chopstick House!


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