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How to Have a Great Dining Experience the Budget-Friendly Way (From a Restaurant Insider)

How to Have a Great Dining Experience the Budget-Friendly Way (From a Restaurant Insider)

You know that you have total control over the ingredients, the preparation, and the portions when you’re preparing food at home. It’s the safest option. It’s healthier and cheaper than eating out too. However, sometimes you find yourself eating out due to necessity or just because you want a nice night out.

There are so many great restaurant options out there now that target very specific dietary requirements, from vegan to paleo. Once you’ve settled on a place that looks good, how do you get the best experience from the restaurant?

Along with working in fitness and nutrition, I’ve spent years working in restaurants, so I’ve seen a lot along the way. Let me share seven great tips to get the most out of your dining experience.

1. If you want a table for two, book a table for three

Every square foot in a restaurant means money. Tables of two can be stuck anywhere and tend to be pushed to the side or lumped all together. If you’re looking for a comfortable and more private night out for the two of you, reserve a table for three. It will get you a better location and more room.

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2. Look for these first two indicators of a good restaurant

I’ve worked with secret dinners and one of the big ones on the list is the bathrooms. This will give you a good indication of not only the cleanliness of the place but the attention to detail. Washrooms should be spotless. If you see a messy and dirty bathroom, I can promise you the kitchen is in a similar condition. A dirty kitchen ends up serving dirty food.

The next indicator of a good place is the type of bread and butter, or free starters that come out. How often have you had a rock hard roll and frozen butter that tears it apart when you start to spread? I’m pretty sure the rest of the meal was nothing to write home about.

A good restaurant should serve warm, fresh and ideally baked in-house that day bread with soft spreadable butter. Bonus points if they serve butter with grain mustard or an assortment of oils and balsamic kinds of vinegar. This is a good sign that they take pride and care in the preparation of their food.

3. Look out for the decoy effect

If you’re a wine drinker, purely for the antioxidant benefits.., look out for what’s called the decoy effect. The decoy effect works like this: If there are two wines on the menu for $9 and $16 which would you choose? There’s honestly not a huge difference price wise and not a huge scale of reference. Now if you add a $47 wine into the mix most of the time people will go for the $16 one. The perceived value has changed and something you may not have bought because it seemed too high now appears as inexpensive and good value.

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Wine lists will always have a few of these very expensive decoy wines at the top of the list to make the other ones appear cheaper. The trick is to have a few favorite wine and get familiar with the pricing and look for those ones whenever you dine out.

4. Have them make your own salad dressing

Any restaurant worth its salt should be making everything in-house including sauces and salad dressings. Even though they are made from scratch, many salad dressing can be high in fat and even sugar. If you’re in a chain restaurant, ditch them all together as you’re guaranteed to be getting a dose of trans fat *cough* Caesar salad *cough*.

Instead, ask them to make you a simple olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar dressing to come on the side. It’s the healthier option and you can control the amount you use.

5. Ask your server what they eat

I do this everywhere I go. After a while of working in a restaurant, all the dishes and items tend to just become products to the staff and they’re probably bored of most of them. If you want to find the best stuff on the menu, ask your server or hostess what they eat when they’re there. It’s a good way to find the really best stuff on the menu.

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6. Avoid ice in your drinks

O.K time to get a little gross. Ice machines are not regularly cleaned, trust me, it’s a pain. This leads to a lot of bacteria growth that ends up in your drink. Six out of ten restaurants have been found to have more bacteria in the ice than in the toilet water.[1] This is because the toilets are more regularly cleaned than the ice machine. Even though it’s cold, bacteria still grows.

7. Avoid fruit in your drinks

I’m a very clean person and am aware of keeping my hands clean. But when I was a bartender, it was pretty impossible. Hands used to grab dirty glasses are then grabbing fruit that goes into your drink. A lot of the time, the fruit at the bar is never washed and is easily contaminated by whatever else the bartender has touched from dirty dishes and utensils to the rims of glasses other people have drunk out of.

Just to concern you further on this fruit issue The Journal Of Environmental Health took samples of lemon slices from 21 different restaurants and found 70% of the samples to contain twenty-five different microbial contents.[2]

Everyone loves a good meal out and it’s always a great eye opener to see what real chefs can come up with using simple ingredients. I’m sure you’ve had good restaurant experiences and plenty of bad ones too. Hopefully with some of these tips, you’ll be able to set yourself up for some more good ones.

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Just don’t forget to check the bathrooms…

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

More by this author

Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Published on June 22, 2020

How to Deal with Stress at Work in Times of Corona

How to Deal with Stress at Work in Times of Corona

One problem that pretty much every human on earth is facing is knowing how to deal with stress at work.

Things were already challenging but with the corona pandemic, the dynamics of the work environment have completely changed. On top of the increases work pressure and stress, the entire structure and system have changed too.

Some people have to work from home for the first time in their life. Others have to observe extreme caution inside their offices. All this while there is a constant risk of health, too.

Everybody is a victim of this crisis. So, read on to find out how you can deal with stress at work in a time like this.

Cause of the Increasing Stress

Work stress has always been a thing. But why has it become so much worse now?

Let’s first understand the causes so it’s easier for you to implement the resolving tips.

Firstly, there’s a panic of the unknown. All of this is new for everyone. Nobody knows what’s exactly going, how long it will go on, and what to expect. This alone is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health.

Since the mind is already preoccupied with this issue, it’s hard to focus on work. Moreover, the chances of being at risk of infection are also causing a distraction.

The biggest worry for everyone around the world is to stay safe and protect their loved ones. Work tasks are not even among the highest concerns.

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Although you’re not thinking about it, the stress is building up in the back of your mind. If not today, you’ll have to tackle all the work tomorrow. Work is piling up while focus and motivation are dropping low.

It’s worse for people who have to work from home. The change in environment, additional distractions, and the general aura of bad vibes are affecting productivity.

All of this sounds scary and unmanageable. However, a few efforts in the right direction can fix your productivity, attention, and motivation. Once you tackle these factors, you can reduce the stress that is connected to work.

How to Reduce Stress Naturally Amid the Crisis

There are some easy to implement tactics that minimize stress, in general. Moreover, on top of that, using the following tips will get the person back on track during this pandemic.

These tips will help you get into the workflow to encourage productivity. You’ll feel at ease once your mind starts focusing on the ‘normal’ things.

This will naturally encourage a sense of serenity that relaxes your body and hence, fewer stress hormones are released.

Voila! That’s all it takes to get rid of your built-up work stress!

1. Prioritize

We’ve all gone through weeks of lockdown. Work was put off in most cases. Work hours were cut down. The overall shift to get used to the new work culture caused a slump.

Therefore, the work has piled up now more than ever before. With the stressful news coming your way constantly, it’s really hard to keep up.

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So, to keep things in control, you have to prioritize. A well-organized to-do list should keep you on track. Use this list to pre-plan your day, week, and even month.

Other than organizing your work, prioritize positive things over negative ones. Turn off the news for a while. Do not expose yourself to things that will make you feel sad or stressed. Prioritize your work and other tasks that you did before the corona days to feel as normal as possible.

2. Get Clear Instructions

As previously mentioned, everybody’s mind is jumbled up during this crisis. So, it’s natural if you don’t understand your work tasks as proactively as you did before.

There’s nothing to worry about here. Keep asking questions unless all your queries are answered. If you find it hard to retain information, ask your superiors to send you a written instructional document. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

With clear instructions, you’ll have a clear route to follow. That will keep you from feeling lost, which helps deal with stress at work.

3. Challenge Yourself but Don’t Overdo It

In this time, you shouldn’t let yourself slack. Do not give up challenging or hard tasks just because you think you’ve got an excuse to let them go. Keep learning and growing in this time so that you come out of this pandemic more valuable and useful.

Simultaneously, if you’re afraid that doing too much will make you more stressed or affect your mental peace, let it go. Basically, say no. But also, say yes. Maintain a healthy balance.

4. Balanced Nutrition and Sleep Cycle

Not only is sleep and nutrition needed for your mind to do well in your work tasks, but it also boosts your immune system.[1]

During this time, you need to feel healthy. A stronger immune system will keep you strong against the virus so you don’t have to worry about getting infected and can focus on your work more.

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How to Boost Productivity When Working From Home

A huge challenge is to create a work-like environment in your home physically and mentally. If you can reciprocate a similar vibe, you won’t feel as much of a difference and that will put your mind to ease.

Here are a few simple things you can do to naturally encourage a work mindset even when you’re at home.

1. Distinguish Your Workspace

Previously, you physically entered a different space to work. The commute and then the change in the natural environment caused the gears in your mind to shift too. This automatically let your productive side take over the lazy side.

You should distinguish your workspace in your home too so that a similar mindset is encouraged. Sit in a corner where you don’t sleep, lounge, or eat. Even if you live in a one-room apartment, grab a chair, and put it in a new spot.

2. Dress Up

Just like your brain prepared itself when you entered a different physical space, your mind also got ready to work when you dressed up for work. The little amount of time you spent getting ready was the time when your mind woke up and got set for work.

Continue to follow the same regime as you did when you went to the office. You don’t necessarily have to wear a 3-piece suit. However, change out of your pajamas. Take a shower. Put on some makeup if that’s what you did before.

You don’t have to follow a strict regime. Just do enough that gives your mind the idea that it’s time to go to work.

3. Take Enough Breaks

In a brick-and-mortar office, you’re usually not in control of breaks. However, at home, you have this luxury. Considering the higher stress levels, you should incorporate enough breaks throughout the day.

Not doing so will take a toll on your mind because you’re exhausting yourself.

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Don’t overdo it. Just take a 5-minute break from your screen after every hour. After a couple of hours, take a snack break. Do whatever suits you but make sure to maintain a balance.

4. Stay Connected

The corona pandemic has affected social relations in the worst possible way. One great thing about an office is that you get to connect with colleagues. Now that physical connections aren’t possible, take out time for online socializing.

Whether it is an online meeting or a casual online catchup session, continue to make an effort to stay connected. This will keep your stress at bay.[2]

5. Minimize Distractions

If you live with your family and have kids at home, working from home can be a nightmare. But you have to be strict. Do not let anyone enter your workspace while you’re working.

Have all your work essentials in your home office so you don’t have to leave during work. Keep your work device, internet, and charger within reach. Have water and snacks nearby too.

Put your phone away if it’s not needed for work. Otherwise, just log out of your social media accounts on your mobile and laptop so that notifications don’t distract you.

Sit away from a window if you’re likely to get distracted by the outdoors or sit near a window if you like to get some sunlight. Reduce the noise around you, sit in a comfortable chair, and do whatever needs to be done to keep you attentive.

The Takeaway

Everyone in the world is going through a hard time these days. You shouldn’t feel bad or alone at this time. Understandably, work stress has built up and gotten worse.

The unforeseen circumstances have forced everyone to find unusual solutions to deal with stress at work. You should do the same.

Most importantly, do not worry yourself. Like everything else, humans will adapt to this too. All you have to do it stay strong, stay safe and give this situation some time to settle.

More Tips on How to Deal With Stress at Work

Featured photo credit: Rainier Ridao via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psych Central: Beating Stress Through Nutrition
[2] NHS: 10 Stress Busters

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