Dining Out? Navigating A Temptation-Filled Menu


Your health influences your work, and to be successful you need to be healthy. After all, you are the face, image and brand of your company. You need energy, vibrancy and clarity to run your business and life. There are also major social aspects to being an entrepreneur: networking, mastermind lunches and client interactions to name a few.

"Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful or about indulgence" - Caryn O’Sullivan

Many people believe that implementing healthier habits leaves dining out and socializing in the past; or when you do eat out, that a plain salad with lemon juice is the only option. This is simply not true, and as said, your business depends on you getting out and being noticed. Eating out is so much a part of our culture, it is hard to avoid – and who would want to anyway? It is fun and effortless – no mess, no clean up, no planning or preparation required. However, with the ease of dining comes unknown ingredients, and for someone managing a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity eating out can be dangerous at worst, and stressful for most. Even without these precautions, eating out is full of temptations that can steer us far from healthy: the bread basket, cocktails, desserts, fried foods and lots of butter. While those items are alluring and excite the taste buds, they are not waistline or heart friendly.

"Eating out is full of temptations that can steer us far from healthy: the bread basket, cocktails, desserts, fried foods and lots of butter. While those items are alluring and excite the taste buds, they are not waistline or heart friendly." - Caryn O’Sullivan

However, with a little bit of thought and preparation, you can have the best of both worlds: enjoying a social time out and making choices that are high quality and health conscious.

Here are some tips to stay on track, avoid temptations and still have a satisfying and fun experience.

1. Choose a place that has healthy options and not too many temptations. By doing preliminary research online (looking at the menus and reviews of a restaurant) it is easy to find an option that works with your plan. Farm to table, seasonal, and ethnic restaurants like Mediterranean offer plenty of vegetable-based dishes, salads, soups and healthier preparations. Many of these lighter options are found in the appetizer or side sections of the menu, so look beyond the entrees. There is no rule against ordering two appetizers or several sides to compose your meal.

2. Next, ask yourself what you want to eat before you get to the restaurant. Food descriptions on the menu can be tantalizing (on purpose), so deciding before you go will help you avoid the temptations. You can simply look online or call ahead. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. For instance, if there is a meal that fits your diet like roasted chicken, but is served with French fries don’t be afraid to ask for a substitution like salad or steamed vegetables. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, it is best to call the restaurant in advance to inform them. Reiterate this information when you get there so the server and kitchen are aware of your requirements.

3. Once you have decided on the main meal, develop a strategy to avoid the temptations.c First, refuse the bread basket. Saying “no” to the basket before it is set on the table is much easier than staring at it and trying to resist taking a piece. Next, be aware of fancy cocktails, wine and sodas which come with a lot of sugar and extra calories. Your best option when eating out is to choose plain or sparkling water, especially if you are trying to lose weight. If you do choose alcohol, then make sure you are drinking water in between each glass to stay hydrated and on your game.

4. Dessert is another obstacle, often too tempting to resist. Avoid dessert completely by refusing to look at the menu. Once we see the options, the pleasure centers in our brains light up and it becomes much more difficult to refuse.

If you cannot pass it by or your peers want dessert, then choose sorbet, a light fruit dish or close the meal with an herbal tea like peppermint or chamomile. Herbal teas help you slow down and aid digestion as well.

"With a little bit of thought and preparation, you can have the best of both worlds: enjoying a social time out and making choices that are high quality and health conscious" - Caryn O’Sullivan

Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful or about indulgence. Nowadays there are so many different styles of eating; gluten free, dairy free, paleo, etc., that restaurants (and other people) are fairly accepting of changes or requests. Food is nourishment, and food cooked for you can be even more nourishing even if it is not the healthiest because it is a break from the cooking and clean up routine. For entrepreneurs who work from home, the cooking and cleaning cuts into productivity and as a result, mealtimes are not prioritized. Snacking and munching throughout the day then takes place.

To feel your best, avoid the processed foods, salty snacks, fried food and sweets. Focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruit and high quality proteins to get you through the day.

When you are out or at home, make choices that will energize you and stabilize your blood sugar. You don’t want to be fighting fatigue or ups and downs while trying to focus or work with clients. To feel your best, avoid the processed foods, salty snacks, fried food and sweets. Focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruit and high quality proteins to get you through the day. If you do steer off course (i.e. only sandwiches and cookies at a meeting), it is okay. Move on from there, with a restart plan ready for the next day to get back on track.

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How These Co-Founders Exited for $100M Without Any VC Funding

When their frustration with current fabric care options had fashionistas Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd worn out, the two entrepreneurs made it their mission to start a new niche and launch their very own at-home, eco-friendly laundry detergent line.

With a mission of turning an everyday domestic chore into a luxurious experience, these entrepreneurs not only conjured up an idea for an unconventional product line, but they successfully built their business while turning down the offer of every venture capitalist to knock on their door.

Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd co-founded The Laundress in 2004 after dealing with their own personal frustrations with limited clothing care options. Whiting, having worked at Ralph Lauren in design and Boyd having worked at Chanel in corporate sales, soon accumulated a stylish wardrobe of designer pieces as perks of their jobs in the fashion industry. However, the duo quickly realized that the maintenance required for upkeeping these items were far from adequate. Laundry products on the market at the time did not cater to delicate textures and fabrics such as tweed blazers, cable-knit cashmere and silk blouses. Taking their clothing to the dry cleaners also proved hopeless as their clothing would often come back with stains or even be ruined despite the overload of chemicals used to clean them. With nowhere left to turn, Whiting and Boyd were determined to create their own laundry solutions designed for specific fabrics.

Not only did the entrepreneurs develop the business expertise needed to finally begin their own company, but they also shared the same educational background that equipped them to pursue their unconventional business venture. Whiting and Boyd met in college as students at Cornell University majoring in Fiber Science, Textile, and Apparel Management and Design. The pair was introduced by a mutual friend and instantly knew they would become business partners. "It was inevitable that we were going to have a business together. We are both extremely entrepreneurial by nature, and it was one of the connections that we instantly shared" said Whiting. After focusing on pursuing their own individual careers for a while, Whiting and Boyd quickly discovered a void in the fabric care marketplace when their clients would continuously inquire about the upkeep of their designer pieces.

The entrepreneurial duo was committed to researching and developing their own eco-friendly laundry products and soon launched their own at-home solutions for specific fabrics like silk, wool and denim, which ultimately eliminated the need for dry cleaning for those particular items. Despite their products filling a necessary void in the market, it quickly became challenging for the founders to persuade people to shift their focus away from traditional laundry care options in order to try their products. However, Whiting and Boyd believed in their mission for the Laundress and bootstrapped from the very beginning, refusing all venture capital funding with the goal of growing organically. In order to be successful, they had to get creative in fundraising. "In the very early days, we funded business development by hosting a 'for profit' party at a New York City restaurant and inviting friends, family, co-workers, etc. to support our new venture. That was pre-Kickstarter and an inventive way to make everyone feel a big part of our decision to be entrepreneurs," said Whiting.

While turning down VC funding as new entrepreneurs seems unimaginable, it is as equally unfathomable to consider how these women gained national traction without social media, all the while hustling to fund their business. For Whiting and Boyd, who started their business before social media existed, it was imperative that they promote their brand by leveraging the resources they had available to them. The CEO's were one of the first to sell consumer goods, let alone detergent, online with the goal of reaching a national audience. Despite having limited retail distribution, they leveraged the power of their website and became featured in publications on both a national and international scale. "Before social media platforms existed, we nurtured our own Laundress community with engaging content on our website, step-by-step tutorials on our blog, and one-on-one communication through our Ask The Laundress email," Whiting explained. With technology evolving and the birth of social media platforms, the founders expanded the conversation about their products from website, blog and email to platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

As female entrepreneurs, Whiting and Boyd faced additional hardships as misconceptions about their mission ultimately proved to disappoint more than it encouraged them. As women selling luxury detergent, there existed a preconceived notion that funding would be more easily attainable based upon their gender.

"Everyone thought it was easy to access capital as female entrepreneurs, but it was actually very challenging. We had this unique and disruptive idea within a very traditional space and it was hard to get people on board at first. It's been a continuous journey to educate people in fabric care and home cleaning," said Boyd.

Reflecting on their journey as entrepreneurs, the founders express no regrets about refusing to accept venture capital throughout the process. "Over the years, we could never quantify the cost benefit of VC funding so we continued to grow organically and remain independent by funding ourselves with credit cards and loans," explained Boyd. While their decision proved fruitful, the duo expressed their consideration towards other entrepreneurs who may not be able to fully fund their business as they grow. Because funding is a situational experience, entrepreneurs must ultimately do what is best for their business as no one path is optimal for every entrepreneur or every business.

With an increasing amount of women entering entrepreneurship with their own unique set of products or services, the CEO's offer up one piece of advice on how female entrepreneurs can be successful in their endeavors.

Whiting: "Our advice to anyone looking to build their brands: Have a strong business plan and vision. If you are not disciplined to write a business plan first then you are not disciplined to start a business. Get your ideas down so you ask yourself the right questions; it helps you get organized and plan next steps."

Boyd: "Create quality products without sacrificing the ingredients—no cutting corners. What you create should be the most important piece. Stay passionate, and trust your instincts and follow your gut—something woman are awesome at!"