How to Make Smart Food Choices When You Eat Out

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For anyone wanting to eat healthy, a roadblock is often what they do when they eat out.

You sit down with friends or your spouse, you are thinking in your head, I’ll make a good choice. And then something happens.

You open the menu and see all the choices and see all the pictures and boom. You make a poor choice.

Same goes for dessert.

You know that a dessert at a restaurant could feed a small family in terms of calorie count, but when you see the dessert menu or tray, you are done for.

What do you do? Stop going out to eat? Stop traveling for business or vacation?

In my journey of losing 130 pounds and keeping it off, I’ve learned a couple of things about how to eat out while on business, a date night, lunch meeting or vacation and stay healthy.

  1. Eat some protein a couple hours before eating out. Not eating enough protein is one of the reasons you get hungry in the middle of the morning or afternoon. When you eat out, this leads you to ordering an appetizer and then a meal that has way too many calories in it. Before eating out, grab a banana, a protein bar, greek yogurt, a smoothie. Something with protein in it so that you aren’t as hungry when you arrive at a restaurant.
  2. Know where you will eat. This is important if you are traveling or are on vacation or having a meeting. When I travel somewhere, I know the options near me that have healthier options. Don’t show up blind to a new city and just guess. That’s a way to make poor choices. I was recently in Orlando with another pastor and I had 3 options for breakfast and told him, “you can pick but it has to be one of these three.” Without this, you pull into the first place you see.
  3. Know what you will eat before you arrive. When you open a menu, if you don’t know what you want to eat, you will often order something very bad for you. Restaurants don’t put pictures of the healthiest meals in the menu. Also, things like salads are not always the best thing to order on a menu as they may have low amounts of protein (which will make you hungrier in a couple of hours) and high in sugar (so it tastes better). If you know what you want before you arrive at a restaurant, you are more likely to make a good choice.
  4. Order first. This came up in Tom Rath’s book Eat Move SleepHe said that the person who orders first at a table sets the standard for what others will order. This is often true. If someone orders a healthy option first, others follow suit.
  5. Box up half your meal when it arrives. A friend told me this one, but when your meal arrives, ask for a box. Put half your meal in the box and close it. Now eat.

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The Best Books I Read in 2013

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It’s that time of year again, time to share my top lists of the year. Monday, I shared the top sermon downloads from Revolution Church. Tuesday I shared the books that almost made my “best of the year” list. And yesterday I shared the albums that almost made my “best of the year” list.

To see my list of favorite books from past year, simply click on the numbers: 200920102011 and 2012.

To make this list, it does not have to be published in 2013, I only needed to read it in 2013. As always, this list was hard to narrow down, but here are the top 13 books of 2013. Buckle up book worms:

13. How to Deliver a TED Talk | Jeremy Donavan

If you speak for a living or are a pastor, this is a must read book. Donavan takes the best and worst of TED Talks and breaks them down into do’s and don’ts for speakers. You can read my review here.

12. Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail | Larry Osborne

I love Larry Osborne’s stuff. It is so simple and straightforward. In this book, he looks at why some churches and organizations works and others don’t. His chapter on mission statements is worth the price of this book. You can read my review here.

11. Eat Move Sleep: Why Small Choices Make a Big Difference | Tom Rath

Health books are everywhere. Good health books are hard to find. This is one of the great ones. Two things stood out in this book: One, every choice we make matters. They all impact every part of our life. Two, Tom Rath looks at how to eat, move and sleep so that those choices make the most positive impact in our lives. You can read my review here.

10. Sex & Money: Pleasures that Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies | Paul David Tripp

There are some authors you should read everything they write. Tim Keller is one of them and Paul David Tripp is another one. No matter the book, you should read their stuff. Tripp takes the two biggest temptations and sins in our culture and shows how they leave us empty. Definitely a convicting book. You can read my review here.

9. Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge | Henry Cloud

The primary message of this book for leaders is you get what you create and what you allow. You can read my review here.

8. Chasing Francis | Ian Cron 

I read this book one Saturday night, one of those hard, dark Saturday nights many pastors have. I could not put this book down as it resonated with me on so many deep levels. So, when you have that dark night, this is a book to read. Here’s my review of it.

7. The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the work of Christ in Your Life & Ministry | Jared Wilson

This book is very similar to Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous CallingA challenge to pastors to apply the gospel they preach to their own lives and hearts. A great book for doing the deep dive for a pastor and confronting their idols. It also helps that Wilson is hilarious in this book. You can read my review here.

6. Discipleshift: Five Steps that Help Your Church to Make Disciples who Make Disciples | Jim Putnam, Bobby Harrington, & Robert Coleman

The effects of this book will be felt at Revolution for years to come. As we’ve moved more and more towards a missional community model, this book has helped us hone our system of making disciples. This graph has been huge for us. You can read my review here.

5. Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus | Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson 

If you are a parent or will be a parent, this is the one parenting book you have to read. It shows you how to parent to your child’s heart, which is the only way to change a child and see them become who God created them to become. You can read my review here.

4. Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence | Crawford Loritts

What set this book apart was that it had very little “here’s what a leader does” advice. This book is all about what influences and shapes a leader. Ultimately, what shapes a leader will eventually come out in their actions. You can read my review here.

3. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World | Paul Miller

This is the book on prayer.  So good. I love the idea of prayer cards and have since created them on Evernote to use. You can read my review here.

2. In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness, and Heart of Christianity | Jim Belcher

This book almost made the jump to #1, it was close. This book is part parenting book, part history, part travel, and faith. It shows the roots of Christianity and how to bring those into your family. One thing Katie and I want is for our kids to know the history of Christianity and that it is not a faith that just appeared in the last 100 years. You can read my review here.

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action | Simon Sinek

I love leadership books, so it makes sense that one of them is #1. A leadership book was #1 last year too. This book was insanely good. If you are a leader, this is the one book you have to read in 2014. So good. You can read my review here.

Tomorrow you’ll get my last list of the week: the top 13 albums of the year.

Eat Move Sleep

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Eat Move Sleep: Why Small Choices Make a Big Difference (kindle version) by Tom Rath. I actually read this book back in June, but it releases today, hence the review.

I’ve been fascinated by health and fitness for some time, ever since losing 130 pounds and keeping it off. So, Rath’s book was right up my alley.

Two things that are obvious about this book from the title:

  1. Every choice we make matters. They all impact every part of our life. 
  2. Tom Rath looks at how to eat, move and sleep so that those choices make the most positive impact in our lives.

As Rath states,

What seem like small or inconsequential moments accumulate rapidly. When your good daily decisions outweigh your poor ones, you boost your chances of growing old in better health.

Now, if you’ve lived a relatively healthy life, watch what you eat, exercise and sleep well, most of what Rath says will simply be a reminder. While I’ve read a lot about weight loss and health, I still found good tidbits I have never heard before and was reminded of some things that are easy to forget.

Here are a few things that stuck out to me as helpful:

  • The types of foods you consume influence your health more than your total caloric intake.
  • The best performers sleep at least 8.6 hours a day, almost a full hour more than the national average.
  • The top performers in every field typically work/practice in focused sessions lasting no longer than 90 minutes.
  • Losing 90 minutes of sleep reduces daytime alertness by nearly one-third. If you consider all the things that demand your attention in a day, reducing alertness by one-third is consequential.
  • A study of over 80,000 people suggests total intake of fruits and vegetables is a robust predictor of overall happiness.
  • When food is served “family style” from large plates, bowls or platters placed in arms’ reach, people simply eat more.
  • Anytime someone is hungry and in a hurry, it results in a bad choice.
  • The first to order food at a restaurant is an anchor for the rest of the table and sets the tone for what others order.
  • We eat based on the size of our plates.
  • We are more likely to make a bad food choice when a healthy option is available compared with when no healthy options are available.
  • Couples in which one partner has a commute longer than 45 minutes are a whopping 40% more likely to get divorced. 
  • The dish you start with serves as an anchor food for your entire meal. Experiments show that people eat nearly 50% greater quantity of the food they eat first.
  • People consume 167 additional calories per hour while watching TV.

An overall helpful, quick read.