When I take clients to restaurants to eat they are intimidated for many reasons. They do not have control over how the food is prepared and they are nervous about the portion size and social setting. Although these things are scary, they do not have to ruin the fun of eating out! There are several techniques I use to ensure that lunch will run smoothly.
First I start by having the clients review the menu. If the menu is overwhelmingly large, I will hand pick entrees and type them up in a document. Prior to going to lunch, all participants select their meal and the possible portion sizes are addressed. Restaurants tend to have very large portions that can be highly intimidating. By processing this before and having a plan on how to deal with them, you can ensure success. After everything is set, I will call ahead to the restaurant, place our order and even have our table set up. This eliminates added stress and allows us to focus on the meal.
A therapist always comes to the restaurant with us. Having a therapist allows for a professionally trained individual to help the clients’ process the meal and their feelings. As the nutrition expert, my role is to make sure that the meals are properly portioned and meeting nutritional needs. I am also there to rationalize any irrational thoughts about the food from a nutritional standpoint.
At the Inner Door Center, we go to a variety of different restaurants. The clients know that Friday will be “challenge day” and that we will be going out to eat or ordering in. One of my favorite memories from a challenge day was when a client ate a piece of pizza for the first time in as long as she could remember and said, “I feel like a teenager”. This was because she was able to work with the Registered Dietitian and Therapist to rationalize her thoughts and partake in something she has been avoiding for years.
Curious about what it is like to eat out with us? You can catch us laughing and smiling. I will be honest that it is a challenge and clients will be upset at times. However, it is always an enjoyable environment when we dine together. To share the community of food with clients and bond over meals is exceptionally enjoyable.
Our theory is by normalizing eating behaviors in a safe and controlled environment overtime, it will allow for success in a different setting in the future. The Inner Door Center has trained professionals that can help you to succeed in a challenging situation. If you are interested in learning more call our office at (248) 336-2868 or visit our website innerdoorcenter.com
We are proud to announce that the Inner Door Center now has a YouTube account. Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_4U4C7UkGY to watch our first video presented by Inner Door Foundation!
By Laura Meagher, RD, Courtesy of Inner Door Center.