Ask and Ye Shall Receive

February 16, 2008 at 1:10 am Leave a comment

In My Experiment: Asking for a Better Deal, Alpha Consumer Kimberly Palmer wonders, “If just asking a question could put money in your pocket, would you do it?”

Kimberly finds out that just asking for it really does work. She says, “Sometimes paying less and saving more come down to simply asking for what you want.”

It’s the same way with food. “Sometimes cutting calories and eating healthier food come down to simply asking for what you want.” Just ask. No matter where you are: at a friend’s house, a fast-food joint, a fancy restaurant, ask for what you want. You’ll be surprised how many times you get it.

I first experimented with this when my then-husband and I went on a low-carb plan. At the time, I frequently ate lunch with my co-workers at the company cafeteria. The caf had once-a-week specials like taco salad and mac-n-cheese. I started by asking for my taco salad without the taco and with extra veggies. I received some ribbing from my co-workers, but I got my taco salad my way. From then on, I always asked for what I wanted, and I continue to do so with at least a 90% success rate.

FRIENDS. When friends invite you for a meal, you, of course, want to be as gracious and appreciative as possible of whatever they prepare for you. If, by chance, they ask you what you’d like, though, tell them. Don’t hold back; they’ve asked because they truly want to know. It’s also okay to request simple substitutions. If you don’t want the wine you’re offered, thank them and then ask for a bottle of water or a cup of tea instead. And, don’t hesitate to refuse something if you’d rather not have it. When a plate is passed to you, feel free to say, “That looks delicious but no thanks.”

FAST FOOD JOINTS. Yes, you can ask for what you want at a fast food place, even if it’s not Burger King! First, narrow your selection to match your requirements as closely as possible. Don’t order a cheeseburger without cheese when a plain burger is readily available. Do ask for extra onions or tomatoes or to hold the mayo. Do ask if you can substitute a salad for the fries. The answer may be no, but you can occasionally make substitutions. Granted, customer service at these places varies widely, so you may end up not getting what you ordered. But, it’s worth the effort to ask, and in most cases, you can pick or scrape off what you don’t want anyway.

SIT-DOWN RESTAURANTS. This is where asking can really impact what you’re eating. If the menu doesn’t list them, ask the server what low-calorie options they have available or what they’d recommend for someone who’s watching her fat or carbohydrate content. Refuse the bread basket or ask for celery sticks with a variety of dressings on the side instead. Ask your server how you’re food is going to be prepared, and don’t hesitate to request “no butter”. Request grilled veggies instead of a baked potato as your side dish. Your dinner companions might needle you a bit, like my co-workers did, but if you’re friendly and pleasant when asking, your server will usually be more than happy to honor your requests.

In all cases, be polite, thoughtful, and appreciative, and don’t forget to smile. People really do want to help as long as they are approached with courtesy and an understanding of their limitations depending on the situation. If they make an effort to accommodate you, be sure to thank them sincerely. With friends, send a follow-up thank-you note after the meal, letting them know how much you enjoyed it and how much their flexibility meant to you. If you’re at a fancy restaurant, show your appreciation with your tip.

Want more of Kimberly? Check out her blog and be sure to read her article about Starbucks’ new Skinny Latte in which she quoted me! J

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Entry filed under: clean eating, coping strategies, Starbucks, tips & techniques, Weight Loss Philosophy. Tags: , , , , , , .

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