Food, glorious food.
From one end of town (Pane e Bene) to the other (Naan), and everywhere in between*, Westport is a restaurant town.
You can find almost every cuisine on the planet**. You can eat out every day — lunch and dinner — at a different spot, for weeks without hitting the same spot twice.
What could possible go wrong?
Plenty, says Heather Bauer.
She should know. A registered dietitian with decades of experience in the corporate world and private practice — and the author of two books — she now rents an office above Kawa Ni***. From there, she can walk to more than a dozen great restaurants.
When she does, she is sometimes appalled. Despite many healthy choices, diners don’t always order well.
Her mission is to help.
Seven years ago — after 18 years working with Type A types, and writing “The Wall Street Diet” and “Bread is the Devil” — she moved with her husband and 3 children from Manhattan to Westport.
They were attracted by the water, and the town’s beauty. They knew no one, but love living here. “It’s a great place to raise a family,” Bauer says.
She commuted to the city. But a year ago she closed her New York office to concentrate on the online version of her practice. Her services include weight management, pre- and post-natal counseling, adolescent nutrition, sports nutrition, and general health and wellness.
One specialty is teaching people how to eat “in the real world.” Here in Westport, her plate is full.****
“You can’t live in a hermetically sealed bubble,” Bauer says. “You have a business lunch. You go out with friends. You go out to dinner because it’s easier than cooking.”
She is not the Food Police. She knows that eating out — the food, the company, the whole enchilada — is enjoyable.
“Many nutritionists have their clients strip food of flavor by holding all sauces, and making 5 million substitutions,” she says.
She’s not like that. In fact, people who make a big deal out of telling everyone about their dietary needs often end up eating more when they get home, because their meal was not satisfying.*****
Bauer asks clients, “What’s your week like? Where will you be eating?” Then she helps them understand their food choices.
Here’s a tasting menu of tips:
- Check a restaurant’s menu online. Know what you’ll order ahead of time. (But call ahead too, to make sure the menu you’ve seen is current.)
- Save the carbs for dinner. No bagel for breakfast!
- Drink plenty of water before you go.
- Order last. If you’re the first person, everyone listens to what you’re getting. By the end, no one cares.
- Make no more than 2 requests for substitutions or changes.
- Put your knife and fork down often. Eating slowly helps you get full faster. It also helps you enjoy what you’re eating.
- Drink water during the meal.
- Instead of ordering an entree, try 2 appetizers. They can be very interesting — and the portions are smaller.
- Given 2 choices, order the food that takes longer to eat. (In other words: mussels, not scallops.)
In Westport, Bauer says, “it’s easy to eat well. Lots of restaurants cater to people who want to eat healthy. They use fresh, organic, local ingredients. You just have to learn to navigate through their menus.”
If all this has you salivating for specifics: You’re in luck.
Every month, Bauer will offer “06880” readers tips on the best items to order at real Westport restaurants. She’ll pick a different cuisine each time.
Keep an eye out here for “Menu Moments.” The first dish will be served soon.
* Waaaaay too many to single out.
** Not Mongolian — though we once had that, where Shake Shack is.
*** Total coincidence.
**** One can argue that Westport is not “the real world.” For the sake of this story, it is.
***** And at home, no one’s watching.