The Myth of Free Food

When is free food not free? When the free food adds inches to your waistline and pounds to your scale. When the free food has enough calories in it to qualify as a separate meal, and when instead of being free, it binds you further into your own downward spiral of unhappiness with your weight.

When is free food not free? When the free food adds inches to your waistline and pounds to your scale. When the free food has enough calories in it to qualify as a separate meal, and when instead of being free, it binds you further into your own downward spiral of unhappiness with your weight.

What free food am I talking about? The free food that many sit-down restaurants offer while you wait for your meal to be served. For example:  


  • Italian Restaurant Breadsticks: 150 calories per breadstick (and who eats just one?).
  • Mexican Restaurant Chips & Salsa: 572 calories for 5.5 ounces. That's about 60 chips, so if you ate half of that, it'd be about 280 calories.
  • Yeast Rolls from a Restaurant: 227 calories per roll.

In my obese days, we went out to eat ALL the time. At least 4 out of 7 nights you would find me settling into a chair at a restaurant table, or trying to squeeze myself into a booth. Sometimes I didn't quite fit into the booth, so we had to move to a table! That should have been a little clue to myself that a) I shouldn't be eating so much, and b) I should have tried to cut down where I could when eating out.

Unfortunately, that didn't stop me. When the server came over and asked if we'd like some "free food" while we were waiting, I always piped up and said, "Yes, please." Sometimes, I'd even ask her right off the bat, "Please bring extra rolls" because I loved them so much! And if we were at a Mexican restaurant, I'd ask for 2 bowls of tortilla chips because there were 4 of us. Remember, if you will, that 2 of "us" were only 2 and 5 years old, so they really didn't eat much. To the servers’ credit, they never rolled their eyes in front of me, but I'm sure they did when they turned around. I would have!

The free food came and went. I ate 2, 3 or even 4 rolls before my high-fat meal showed up. I could easily eat 2 bowls of tortilla chips by myself. It was like an eating-fest, and that was before the actual restaurant meal even came. Looking back, I’m surprised that I wasn't embarrassed to eat so much in front of John, but at that point I was so far into satisfying my own desires that I honestly didn't care what he thought.

As I started down my weight loss road for the last time, I knew that I needed to make a drastic change in how I approached restaurant meals. Realistically, I understood that I wasn't ready to stop eating out, so I needed to start managing the restaurant food rather than letting it manage me. The first thing I changed was instead of accepting the "free" food, I rejected it.

This wasn't always easy. Time after time as I was losing weight, I had the opportunity to practice asking the server not to bring the "free" food when I was with my own family, and with friends.

Restaurant dining can be a lovely experience. Try to focus on the company you are with, pick the healthiest entree and eat within your plan. And remember, free food rarely is really free. 

Have you ever gotten to the last little bit of a vegetable or fruit and thought they only thing left to do was toss it? Or maybe you didn't get to one before it looked like it should be thrown out? Well there's no need to create more food waste! Here are two foods you can regrow right at home instead of throwing out.

Leftover Ginger

  1. Fill a bowl or cup with water and place your bit of ginger root inside.
  2. After a few weeks, watch for little sprouts to form.
  3. At this point, transfer the ginger to some potted soil. Give it plenty of space and moisture.
  4. After a few weeks, harvest your new ginger root!

Sprouted Potato

  1. Note where the sprouts (or eyes) are on the potato. Cut it in half so there are sprouts on both halves.
  2. Let the halves dry out overnight on a paper towel.
  3. Plant the dried potato halves in soil, cut side down.
  4. Small potatoes will be ready to harvest in about 10 weeks, while larger potatoes will be ready in about three to four months.

There's no need for food waste here when you know the tips and tricks to use up all your food at home. And click here to see which foods you can keep past the Sell By date!