2. There are almost never any sick days in the restaurant business. A busboy with a child to support isn‘t going to stay home and miss out on $100 because he‘s got strep throat.
3. When customers make personal attacks, adulterating food or drink is a convenient way for servers to exact covert vengeance. Waiters can and do spit in people‘s food.
4. Never say "I‘m friends with the owner." Restaurant owners don‘t have friends. This marks you as a clueless poseur the moment you walk in the door.
5. Treat others as you want to be treated.
6. Don‘t snap your fingers to get attention.
7. Don‘t order meals that aren‘t on the menu. You‘re forcing the chef to cook something he doesn‘t make on a regular basis, and it won’t be as good.
8. Splitting entrées is okay, but don‘t ask for water, lemon, and sugar so you can make your own lemonade.
9. If you find a waiter you like, always ask to be seated in his or her section. Tell all your friends so they‘ll start asking for that server as well. The server will be grateful and take good care of you.
10. If you can‘t afford to leave a tip, you can‘t afford to eat in the restaurant.
11. Always examine the check. Sometimes large parties are unaware that a gratuity has been added to the bill, so they tip on top of it. Waiters "facilitate" this error.
12. If you want to hang out, that‘s fine. But increase the tip to make up for money the server would have made if he or she had had another seating at that table.
13. Never, ever come in 15 minutes before closing time. While you‘re chitchatting over salads, your entrées will be languishing under the heat lamp while the dishwasher is spraying industrial-strength, carcinogenic cleaning solvents in their immediate vicinity.
These are all valuable “insiders tips” to keep in mind when you dine out. But with the American economy tanking, many of you have already begun to change your dining habits, opting to eat more of your meals at home. This is actually a great thing (although your waiters won’t like it, so they won’t tell you about this either) because in addition to saving you money, it’s actually one of the best things you can do for your health!
I’ve been a longtime advocate of home cooking, and I firmly believe that someone in your household simply must invest some time in the kitchen in order to stave off future health problems. The moment you turn that into a non-personal agenda item, you run the risk of ruining your health.
You may get “convenience,” but it’s an unequal exchange. In fact, research has shown that it takes just one “bad” meal -- a cheeseburger, fries and a soda, for example -- to set off a chain reaction of physical damage.
The good news, however, is that eating just one good meal will start to repair the damage already done.
How Can One “Bad” Meal Hurt Your Health?
This occurs because, when you eat, your body breaks down the food into glucose (sugar), lipids (fats) and amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
As soon as you polish off the last of your high-fat, high-sugar meal, the sugar causes a large spike in your blood-sugar levels called “post-prandial hyperglycemia.” In the long run this can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, but there are short-term effects as well, such as:
- Your tissue becomes inflamed (as occurs when it is infected)
- Your blood vessels constrict
- Damaging free radicals are generated
- Your blood pressure may rise higher than normal
- A surge and drop in insulin may leave you feeling hungry soon after your meal
Eating healthy foods, on the other hand, will stave off post-prandial spikes and help to keep your blood-sugar levels even, which is absolutely vital if you want to maintain optimal health.
Eating according to your nutritional type, in particular, will help to ensure that you’re getting everything your personal biochemistry needs, and very little of what your body cannot process efficiently.
Think You Don’t Have Time for Home Cooking? Think Again!
The British Food Journal published the first academic study tracking the dinner routines of American families in 2007, which had unearthed some surprising discoveries. As it turns out, “convenience foods” don’t really save you any time in the kitchen, compared to cooking dinner from scratch. The difference between meals involving more than 50 percent convenience foods, compared to limited use of such items (between 20 to 50 percent), was negligible – no more than an average of 10 to 12 minutes for the hands-on preparation.
So why not cook with organic (preferably locally-grown) ingredients rather than processed frozen vegetables and canned goods?
Not only are organic foods packed with more nutrients than their fresh, conventionally-grown counterparts, but when you’re comparing organic to processed produce there’s simply no comparison.
Knowing exactly what’s in the food you’re eating is key when you’re trying to lose weight and maintain good health.
Those convenience foods contain a whole host of artificial additives, flavorings, MSG, and preservatives -- none of which are beneficial to your health. If you missed my recent articles on the dangers of food additives, I recommend you review What's In That? How Food Affects Your Behavior.
When everything is said and done, you’re literally trading your health for the “convenience” of grabbing a can opener instead of a chopping knife.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist of?
If you want to maintain optimal health, strive for a diet consisting of about 90 percent non-processed food, and maybe 10 percent from other food sources.
Whole fresh foods are your best bet for benefiting your health, whether your nutritional type is protein type, carb type, or mixed type, because whole foods (whether meat, vegetable, or fruit) do two things, besides eliminating hunger.
First, they provide all the nutrients that nature put into the food, meaning they contain a synergy of nutrients that work together, providing benefits that are greater than the sum of its parts.
The second advantage of eating whole fresh foods is that their sheer bulk will limit the amount of chemicals and denatured food derivatives that you might otherwise fill yourself with.
How to Shop for Healthy Cooking
Do you use a shopping list? If not, getting back into that habit might help you get back on track to a healthier lifestyle.
A big part of the problem is not knowing what you’re going to eat on Thursday night until... Thursday night. The key to getting out of that trap is to pre-plan what meals you will serve the coming week, and create a shopping list to match, so that you have all the ingredients you will need.
Here are a few of my best recommendations to help you create great, healthy meals from scratch:
- Once you’ve planned all your meals for the week, go to the supermarket once to purchase the whole food ingredients in one trip. Remember, when shopping for whole foods, you only need to go around the periphery of the supermarket where they are located, rather than taking time to go up and down the interior aisles where the processed foods are.
- Cook all your meals for the week at the same time. The trick is to cook big portions, but freeze in the smaller quantities that you and your family will eat throughout the week.
- Place pre-cut vegetables in glass jars (if you evacuate the air), or in freezer bags, so you can defrost as needed during the week. One jar might contain pressed garlic with coarsely chopped string beans, which a few days from now you can sauté in coconut oil for a few minutes.
- Fall in love with the crockpot all over again. It really lends itself well to a whole foods diet.
- During the week, defrost one of the meals you prepared on the weekend. When you’re ready to cook it, place it into a serving dish in a toaster or convection oven rather than a microwave. Toaster and convection ovens have major health advantages, since microwave rays are unhealthy radiation, and when you microwave in a plastic container, it drives the phthalates of the plastic right into your food, which gives an otherwise excellent meal a toxic twist that you definitely do not need.
My previous article Promoting Sustainable Agriculture offers a wide variety of links to everything from local organic farmers markets, to slow food organizations, to independent farms, as well as other groups that can help guide you in your quest to obtain fresh, nutrient-dense foods for your home cooking.
Also it is NO mystery that while you are at work come noon time you will be hungry and heading out for lunch. So start thinking about bringing your own lunch. The time to plan that however is the night before you go to sleep. Have a clear plan of what you are going to bring to work and prepare for dinner.
Remember if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
Additional Tips for Healthier Home Cooking
Last, but not least, once you’ve decided to improve your health by taking charge of your food choices, remember these three essential cooking tips: