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The Business Forum Journal


Power Eating: A Mini Guide to Eating Out


James C. Moore & Sharyn S. Moore

Sharyn S. Moore is the Academic Director of ELS Language Centers in Santa Monica, California. She cooks elegantly and expertly using Power Eating principles based on her culinary experiences in the US, Europe and Asia. She is the author of Sharyn's NoneSuch Cookbook which emphasizes heart healthy food preparation and enjoyment. Contact her by email at [email protected]

Many of us are often on the go, with little time or energy to spare in preparing or eating meals at home. We often decide to eat out, due to personal preference or business commitments, but seldom focus on the health aspects of such decisions.

Research indicates that we may extend our life span and enjoy optimum "wellness" through making dietary changes and increasing our fitness level. Preventing potential health problems has become a new concern for corporate America, as health care costs continue to escalate and "cost containment" has become a necessity for most businesses. The power to take control of our own health through exercise and diet is available to each one of us.

At home, we all have some control over what is prepared and eaten; if we are not the cook, we can make suggestions, or pick and choose from what is offered. We may also have support and encouragement of family to help us maintain a healthy diet.  Eating out is another matter. Whether it is at a party, someone's home or a restaurant, we may be tempted, intimidated, or aggressively encouraged to eat what we may not want and, more often than not, what we do not need.

Most executives travel frequently. More and more business people have restricted diets, due in the main to cardiovascular or stress-related health problems. As a result, restaurants and airlines are finding it necessary to offer alternatives to the regular menus, to accept substitutions without question, and to allow patrons to special order.  A restaurant may actually be an easier place to maintain a wellness plan than at home or at a party.

In a restaurant, the first step in power eating is to overcome any hesitation or embarrassment in requesting something out of the ordinary. Restaurants are there to serve the patrons, and today's patrons increasingly know what they need and must insist upon.

Although some foods are certainly pre-made, such as soups, stews and sauces, many foods may be special ordered, i.e. broiled or steamed, rather than deep-fried, or braised, or served without sauces and dressings. You should always feel in control, even in an impersonal restaurant setting; if you are told a substitution cannot be made, you then have the liberty of choosing another dish or choosing another restaurant, if necessary.

The following are suggestions for choosing more healthful restaurant dishes:

Poultry and Fish

  • skin grilled chicken at the table, if the kitchen will not oblige

  • ask for lemon or lime as an accompaniment

  • omit butter or sauces on shell-fish which is already higher in cholesterol

  • avoid breading, batter, frying, dairy-based sauces or dressings


  •  ask that the meat and cheese be replaced with extra vegetables or legumes in antipasto salads

  • ask for steamed vegetables or grilled vegetables with olive oil or nuts

  • accept no pureed, or creamed varieties

  • ask for baked potato substitutions, dry, or ask for chives without the butter

  • frequent the salad bar, but beware - after the greens and vegetables are bowls of cheese, nuts, fried croutons, oil-marinated vegetables and pasta salads, bacon bits, and a variety of oil and creamy dressings which should be avoided

  • ask for balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Soups and Legumes

  • order broth-based soups

  •  order fish soups prepared in a vegetable or fish broth, or fish stews like bouillabaisse

  • avoid soups that use egg noodles

  • order legume-based soups, such as lentil or meatless chili

  • bypass the salted crackers, ask for a whole-grain bread or unsalted crackers

  • ask if the refried beans contain lard - if so, avoid them


  • choose anything with fresh fruit, without a dressing

  • order ices or sorbets

Breads and Grain Products

  • taste the house bread and eat it only if it's marvelous -don't fill up on rolls or breads to pass the time before the meal arrives

  • order fresh corn tortillas in a Mexican restaurant instead of the chips; eat them with salsa

  • in general, avoid muffins, cornbreads and specialty nut breads which are high in fat, sugar and contain eggs

  • ask for steamed brown rice, or rice cooked with vegetables

  • order pasta with tomato sauce only, or ask for pasta with a light touch of olive oil and parmesan cheese

  • avoid fettuccine and other broad noodles which are usually egg noodles and also are served with heavier sauces

  • order hot cereals, like oatmeal or cream of wheat, for breakfast

  • order unbuttered toast, whole wheat or sourdough


  • order mineral water, fruit juices or non-alcoholic wines/beers

  • ask for herbal teas

  • ask for non-fat milk

These suggestions may be used from the most elegant of restaurants to small, family-owned establishments, and fast food stands. Many ethnic food restaurants, such as Japanese, Indian, Thai, Chinese, South American and Mexican, serve foods which are easy to adjust to your eating plan, and are often more willing to help you select menu items which are appropriate.  By asking for changes, substitutions, or food or drink items which are not now readily available in restaurants, together we may demonstrate a market demand to restaurant managers and owners.  For example, most Italian restaurants today offer decaffeinated cappuccinos and espressos, which were virtually unavailable some years ago, as the public has gradually become more concerned about its consumption of caffeine. Our assertiveness about what we eat and how it is prepared will help to bring about positive changes in the food industry.

When dining in friends' or associates' homes or attending parties in which food and drink is served, it is often more difficult to make special requests. Even though family, friends and business associates may know your eating habits well, they often see the opportunity of a meal together as an expression of love or interest, or are anxious to impress you.  What you may be served at these dinners, therefore, are often dishes with creamed sauces; meats such as beef, pork, or shellfish; fresh, buttered hot breads and lavish desserts.

You may or may not be comfortable with telling friends or associates at the time of the invitation that you enjoy simple foods, and do not eat meats or foods with a high-cholesterol or high sodium content.  If you do not tell people ahead of time, then it is best to eat large helpings of those foods which are most nutritious, and very small servings of those which are not, even avoiding a dish, or skipping dessert. On some occasions, you may find it necessary to eat what you would normally avoid, but if you eat out frequently, learn to be as assertive with friends and associates as you are in restaurants. They may consider you deprived at best or, at worst, just a little odd; but, they may also begin to reconsider their own eating habits.

At parties or open houses, no one will be personally offended if you do not indulge in the cheeses, nuts, cookies, and other snacks which are offered.  It is better to eat before you go to the party, and then stay as far away from the buffet table as possible.  Start with a large drink of mineral water or diluted fruit juice; with one hand full, the other is necessary for shaking hands.  If an attentive host or hostess leads you to the buffet table, choose the healthiest foods available and nibble off the same plate the entire time. Vegetables, without the accompanying dips, are particularly useful plate fillers. When sandwich makings are available, choose the turkey and mustard and a dark or sourdough bread. You will enjoy the party more by enjoying the guests rather than the food.

At any time, in any circumstance - be polite but firm in your insistence on food that you have determined is good for you. Make eating out a high adventure which calls for your best gastronomic skill, judgment and creativity. You will feel great, enjoy yourself, and encourage others to do the same.

Power eating is not a diet or a plan for only a specified period of time.  It is a lifetime plan:  an adjustment of senses - texture, taste, aroma, visual attraction - to natural tastes, to the basic components of a meal.

Power eating is also a preventive plan -instilling lifelong habits in children and changing unhealthy, potentially life-threatening entrenched habits in adults, bringing about better health, more energy, greater fitness, clearer thinking and longer life.

Power eating is also a lifetime educational process -achieved through reading or paying attention to new research, warnings and advice given by medical professionals. Keeping informed should not just be an avocation for a few, but as much a part of our daily life as reading the newspaper, watching the evening news, or cooking and eating. The time spent will be rewarded through increasing mental alertness and physical fitness - an ability to be more productive, both personally and professionally, and to enjoy life to the fullest.

James C. "Chip" Moore is a Fellow of the Business Forum Institute and Principal Consultant and Managing Director of Carlyn Associates. He has over 35 years of experience in human resources management. At Pepperdine University, he served as the University Ombudsman and Chief Human Resources Officer, and was a faculty member and director of the University’s international program in Heidelberg, Germany. Chip is active in the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). He is a member of the International Ombudsman Association and is a member of the Advisory Council of Emeriti Retirement Health Solutions. He served for three years as a member of the TIAA/CREF Advisory Council. Chip has worked and lived Europe and Southeast Asia. He and his wife served in the Peace Corps in Sabah, Malaysia. He is a graduate of Pepperdine University (BA & MBA) and the University of Southern California (MA International Relations). He speaks German fluently and studied Russian and Malay. 

Contact:  Chip Moore ~ Carlyn Associates ~ (310-890-6491) ~ [email protected]

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