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Nutritional Wealth: Secret skills of the everyday champion
Mike Thompson mug
Mike Thompson

Olympic games intrigue and delight us. We love seeing champions achieve. Here is a key truth champions know that is hidden behind all the pizza, burger and taco ads sandwiching events on TV. You cannot out-train a bad diet. This is true for you, too, if you want to live a productive and energetic life. The alternative is dealing with obesity and sickness in your years past 40-50. No one wants that “achievement”.

Olympians strategically master their training and many other obstacles including nutrition intake.

This is not about luck and not left to chance. Each champion creates a plan to win, confronts obstacles and course-corrects for the problems that will arise.

You and I can be like an Olympic champion. If you want to live long and be fit, strong and energetic, that desire is not about luck and should not be left to chance. If you plan your strategic actions, address and overcome the obstacles and execute like a champion, your rewards will far outshine the value of Olympic gold. Decades of fabulous health and a longer, more functional life awaits all who work these personal skills.


Not yet an Olympic sport, this growing part of nearly every American’s life plays out way more often than once every four years. Restaurants are a key touchstone of our culture.

In restaurants we date, hang out with friends and coworkers, celebrate family, conduct business and develop lifetime relationships. We are meant to enjoy and ingest special meals. These meals support or detract from our health depending on planned, practiced and performed skills.

Exercise is key, too, but only 20-40 minutes a day will suffice. Meals and eating out take much more time and skill-but eating out skills are hidden by the restaurant’s selling message. It’s important we have our head in the game when we meet a potential soulmate, negotiate a long-term business deal or join the family for communion. Stats show most don’t have their heads in the game of restaurant eating. Millions play this game mindlessly.

They end up with extra pounds, obesity and disease.

Some of the statistics: -The National Institute of Health says restaurant food portions have doubled or tripled over the last 20 years, a key factor contributing to a potentially devastating increase in obesity among children and adults.

-As of 2019, almost 40 cents of every food dollar go to restaurants and other eating places. Eating out is not special these days, it is commonplace. Something many do without thinking, pacing or plan creating personal health havoc.

-Dozens of single meals listed on chain restaurant menus contain more than 2000 calories-the amount an average adult male should eat in an entire day.

Average women should eat around 1800 calories.

-71% of the sodium in the American diet comes from processed and restaurant foods.

-Research indicates eating outside the home generally leads to weight gain. More than one study has shown dining at full-service restaurants is comparable to, and perhaps even less healthy that eating at a fast-food restaurant.

If you are going to live an active and long life without “lifestyle disease” problems generated by the American diet, you need the focused skills of a champion while eating out.

Since we do it often, we shouldn’t act like each restaurant visit is a vacation and/or a splurge worthy event. It helps those who prepare.

It hurts those who don’t.

Skills to practice and enjoy the restaurant champion journey:

 1. Plan your experience like a champion to be ready. Go online to the restaurant menu to envision a quality protein entrée baked, grilled, broiled or steamed.

Great chefs concoct these dishes in a heavenly manner so go to heaven whenever possible. Add a few fruits and vegetables.

A good waiter will recommend some things which won’t work for you. Watch out for sugary beverages.

Can you handle the calories and/or alcohol? Is there room for a calorie laden dessert or appetizer? Probably not unless you see #2.

2. Create a take-home plan for your meal. Don’t try to wolf down 2 days’ worth of calories. Champions win save calories and dollars by asking up front for a take home box and splitting up the meal. Many fine restaurants will take half of the meal and box and bag it for you.

3. Sharing a meal is OK.

It shows sophistication and smarts in today’s world.

4. Stay away from free crowd pleasers offered at chain restaurants (or see #2 again) like Chips and Salsa, salty peanuts or hot bread with butter. These are full of empty carbs, sodium and fat.

5. Ask for sauces, dressings and condiments on the side.

6. Appetizers or desserts? Chop high-calorie titans like cheese or chocolate into bite size morsels to share or box up for later.

7. Really be at your meal. Enjoy your meal and your company! Look at your food, smell your food, savor it in your mouth as you mindfully chew each bite.

Take your time. Distracted eating reduces enjoyment, decreases satisfaction, and causes overeating. Mindful eating is the final key to master the eating out experience.

Practicing 1 or 2 of these skills makes you different.

Practicing most makes you a health arena champion.

A University of Texas study found “developing skills needed to eat out (specifically planning ahead and practicing mindful eating) is essential to long-term health.”

Dining out should be a massively enjoyed pleasure (like enjoying fine company, your favorite concert or sporting event). Practice your restaurant visit (and all meals) with intelligent foresight- an experience to be savored and enjoyed-but in a considered and purposeful manner.

Most Americans eat on the run and end up cheapening life with fastfood experiences. You can be purposefully different- like other champions we admire. Practice and master restaurant skills and naturally your body and your life become an Olympic- like masterpiece.

Mike Thompson is a health coach and writes about nutrition and amazing aging. He lives in Richmond Hill, is certified in exercise nutrition and founder of SelfCare Sustained. Reach him at

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