DeRushaEats: The Dieting Food Writer

I was going to write about a fabulous meal I had last weekend at Cafe Maude, where Adam Harness is keeping the tradition of awesome cocktails going strong. But if you want to hear about that, you can tune in to WCCO-TV Saturday morning from 8-9 a.m. and catch my “DeRushaEats” segment somewhere in there.

Instead I want to talk about a question that a lot of people ask me: “How do you eat at all these great places and not get huge?” The answer is: It’s hard. It’s almost impossible. At least for someone relatively new to the game.

Some background: I’ve always struggled with weight. Seven years ago, shortly after I arrived in Minnesota, I went on the South Beach Diet and lost 55 pounds. I was up to 230, 29-years-old, and looking to get in shape before I hit 30. I got down to 175. It took about six months, and I’m the first television reporter in history to lose that much weight and not do a sweeps month story about it.

We didn’t have Facebook or Twitter, either, so I just quietly went about my first ever diet, and just got the job done.

Over the years, I kept the weight off, more or less. But over the past two years (coincidentally around the same time I started writing for Dara and the magazine!) the weight started to creep on. The suits got tighter. The pants didn’t fit as well.

I work at my TV job all nights, 2-11 p.m. Before the new year, I would grab a quick dinner out almost every night. Because I was working, the dinners were usually of the Chipotle salad bowl, Jimmy John’s turkey sandwich variety, with the occasional sit-down, more gluttonous meal. Plus, I was eating out at least once a week for the blog, often on the weekend with my family for lunch, and once a month to write a review for the magazine. Portion control started to slide. Morning snacking out of boredom started to reappear.

I got off track, like so many of us do.

So now I’m back on the South Beach Diet. I read the entire book—I didn’t just cut out carbs the first time around—and that’s the same approach I’m taking this time. I’ve been on it for nearly two weeks now, and I’ve lost about 7 pounds. My approach is to eat salads and low-fat foods whenever I’m not eating out.

I’m planning to practice portion control while reviewing places, even though it’s hard for me to get the Catholic guilt of not cleaning my plate out of my head. But I’ll do my best! When I go out for my birthday later this month, I’m not going to hold back. But I don’t need to eat that way every time.

I’m exercising four days a week, and that helps too. When I write about restaurants here, I’ll be looking to target one or two healthy choices that people can go after, as well. I don’t have 55 pounds to lose this time, just about 15 or 20.

I know a lot of people want to blame restaurants for serving portion sizes that are too big, and food that’s too fatty. But I want to take responsibility for making better choices—and not only eating good food, but eating well.

Here’s to a delicious (and healthy) 2012!