I get asked a lot of scenario-specific nutrition questions. Just in time for your Valentine, I've decided to address this one. There are quite a few considerations: price, breath, ease-of eating/chatting, dining etiquette...I could go on. And there are certainly those dates on which you feel you can toss some or all of these considerations aside and just go for it (we'll call that "true love"). But, if you've asked this very question recently, here are a few tips:
- Don't show up starving. I'm not in the "eat a meal before your date" camp- if you can't eat with someone, you shouldn't be dating them. But you should never enter any meal FAMISHED-it's a sure way to 1) overeat and 2) be super cranky should the kitchen-to-table process take longer than expected. Instead, have a 200ish calorie snack that includes protein and fiber about an hour before you head out. Good choices include a small smoothie, carrots + hummus, or Kind Bar.
- Stay light on your toes! Overdoing it can make you feel tired and sluggish. Carb-heavy meals make you especially vulnerable to the sleepy part. Sharing a couple appetizers and a salad or going lighter on meal ordering knowing you could always grab dessert if you're still hungry are 2 good strategies.
- Share plates. In case the previous point didn't sell you, this will also prevent the awkward "should I order the most or least expensive item" dilemma (and no, you should not). It and also creates a natural path for the conversation. If the dish you order is more awkward to eat than you'd anticipated, at least you're sharing in the challenge. Which brings me to my next point...
- Choose what's easy to eat. For example, at Cafe Habana, think about the difference between the Grilled Corn on the Cob versus the Guacamole. The latter makes eating and talking a whole lot easier. If you really want something though, go for it! Just remember to cut small pieces and take small bites. This allows you to focus more on the chatting and less on the chewing.
- Caution with foods that cause bad breath. Unfortunately, these are a lot of delicious foods/drinks. Think onions, garlic, cheese, and spicy foods. Carrying a travel mouthwash might be the closest thing to a cure. Alcohol also causes bad breath. This occurs when the alcohol in your blood circulates to your lungs and you expel air (this is how a breathalyzer can detect the amount of unprocessed alcohol in your system). The best approach is to do what you can to prevent the bacteria build-up in your mouth that leads to bad breath by staying hydrated and limiting sugar consumption. And a steady stream of sugar-free gum if all else fails.