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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dining out on Jenny Craig

I went to a Chevy’s restaurant for the first time today, for lunch. I thought I’d offer this review, and provide some opinions about the eating out alone experience from a married man who has just lost thirty five pounds on a Jenny Craig diet plan.

Originally, I had planned to bring my business to a salad bar – but that restaurant is out of business. I might add, finally – and I am not surprised: The quality of the produce was declining steadily as our economy got worse. Fewer people would patron the store, fueling the cycle of decline. I think the closure was only a couple of months ago.

So here I was about forty minutes from home, and my plans to have a robust,  veggie-laden (and typically very filling salad) with the least amount of meat and starches was shot. But this one restaurant – Chevy’s -- was here. In fact, it’s the only other restaurant here. There are a half dozen chain ‘big box’ stores – CostCo, Target, and the like. This place should be getting a lot of business. And I guess that it is.

First, there are a lot of young families here. In fact, this fact leaves me a bit confused by the ambience and the menu. The menu emphasizes tequila. Tequila is not a drink I favor. I know I probably don’t know what I am missing. I apologize to all tequila aficionados in advance. However, this emphasis on booze surprises me when I have mothers, fathers, grandparents, and youngsters between the ages of relative newborn to seventeen here outnumbering the drinkers.

And there are drinkers. (This one fellow in particular is probably unaware of how loud he is. His partner/spouse, whatever, seems aware. She has given him the old stinkeye more than once in brief time that I’ve been here.)

So as an old married person, whose family are out and about, I feel a conspicuous here. The only individual patrons in this restaurant are the men and women (who are older than the general population here) in the bar. It’s a full bar, with two large television sets. It’s also very bright with a full window offering natural lighting in the afternoon. It’s also clean and there is plenty of seating, which is surprising given how crowded this place is.

Speaking of noise, it is pretty loud in here – obviously by design. Personally, I have never understood the need for so much noise in a restaurant. The first I encountered this phenomenon was at the Cadillac Bar in San Francisco in the late 1980s. The building had been some type of factory or warehouse before the restaurant had been installed. It was deafening. If you were drunk, it wasn’t so noticeable. But being or staying drunk wasn’t fun, and the noise really became a distraction.

The wait staff are very busy. Practically no one who works here walks. The young men and women, all uniformed in logo-branded tee-shirts and dark pants, scoot, scamper, scramble and generally all-but-run from table to kitchen and back.

The meal, a fajita salad with chicken, was made fresh at my table. I know some ingredients will tip the scale on my diet. This means I will need to make some adjustments and compensate. For instance, the salad has diced avocado. That’s one fat. It also has oil in the salad, which brings the fat count to at least (I hope only) two fat servings. This I can adjust to easily. But the dressing also has sugar. This is a given. So now I will have to think about this in terms of either giving up one or more of my fruit servings. But the fat issue isn’t over yet: There are also seeds in the salad. Then I have to deal with the protein issue. There are at least two protein servings with the chicken, and another with the crumbled cheese. These are my first proteins for the day, however. I have three remaining. That leaves the final issue: portion size. I’d say they served up enough food for two. So I will have to put this aside (and hope that the salad is not so wilted later that I won’t eat any of it.)

For  this, I will have to make sure I increase my exercise allotment. At least thirty minutes more – making it one and a half hours today  and tomorrow, to compensate.
In sum, the food is fresh and tastes delicious. There are no options for dieters. Wait for a meal on my own day, and then really plan to compensate in a big way. Enjoy the people watching and the noise and the fast service.

I will probably be around here again because I shop sometime at the big box stores.

Be sure to leave a healthy tip. The kids who work here appear to work very hard, and they seem to have a good disposition in spite of all the pressure.


  1. I share your frustration with dining out - it has been very difficult for me, to the point of trying to avoid it whenever I can. I would be cautious with those salads at restaurants -unless you can make your own at the salad bar. My attempt at healthy salads at O'Charleys (1100 calories with the dressing) and similar restaurants made me gasp. I would have been better off with a burger! See where you can get the nutritional info ahead of time - if you have a smartphone there are apps for it. When my husband and I travel and have to make a quick stop to eat we chose the Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken at McDonalds (290 calories, the southwest dressing is another 100 calories but you can sub out and get the vinagrette dressing).

  2. Hi NancyK,

    Well those salad dressings in these restaurants are packed with sugar, fat and calories! I have also tried the McDonald's salads, but not the Southwest -- the tortilla strips look fattening.

    I often eat salads without dressing at all, or with a squeeze of lemon. My wife and I have gotten to bringing packets of Jenny salad dressing with us. It's a little tough eating out right now: My wife has reached her goal, and I have about 25 pounds more to lose. I sometimes look with envy at some of the things she gets to eat!

    Thanks for the comments.