Eating Out while on a diet: How to order a meal


To many, it may seem very difficult to go out to eat without blowing your diet.  Many of my Weight Clinic patients choose not to eat out because they are afraid it will offset all the hard work of dieting they put in for the week.  Sometimes it’s not worth the risk just for one meal..  It’s true, eating out is a little more complicated and in most cases not as healthy as a meal you would prepare at home.  I don’t suggest going out to eat all the time, but it’s also a fun  part of our social lives and gives us the opportunity to explore different cuisine so I think it is important to go out to eat occasionally!  It is important for everyone to feel confident when ordering out, so that a meal out is not an immediate excuse to blow your diet.  It’s important to know how to go out to eat and order a healthy meal!  Here are some tips on setting yourself up for success when dining out:

  • If possible, look at the restaurant website so you know what you plan to order before arriving.
  • Even better, if the restaurant has a nutrition page online,  look at the calories on each meal and chose something that’s  500 calories or lower (even better).
  • Sometimes restaurants have “lighter fare” options or a separate lower calorie menu so be sure to ask if they do.
  • Tell the waiter you do not want bread, chips, etc. brought to the table before your meal.
  • If you’re feeling really hungry, start the meal with a small garden salad but be aware of dressings!  They can add hundred of calories to your meal so it is important to ask for a lower calorie dressing, use lemon or vinegar, or get dressing on the side and use a very small amount.   You can also find Wishbone Salad Spritzers from a grocery store that come in a small spray bottle, which you can keep in your purse to guarantee a low calorie salad!

On any menu item, even the lighter fare, you can lower the calories even more (if necessary)  by doing the following:

  • Choose an item that is composed mostly of protein and vegetables
  • Ask for your vegetables to be steamed without butter or cooked with as little amount of oil/butter  as possible
  • Ask for any sauces to be light or placed on the side.
  • Ask for a side of lemon slices for squeezing on your meal
  • If there is a starch (ex. Rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.) you can ask to eliminate this and ask for extra vegetables. This is the big one!  If a meal comes with mashed potatoes, don’t order it and stare at the potatoes while you try to eat around it!  Tell the waiter you don’t want them when you order and ask for the extra vegetables so you don’t get skimped on food! The extra veggies will help fill you dont have to eat less
Take your time and enjoy yourself (and your meal)!   Try your best, but don’t stress about it if your meal doesn’t seem perfect for your diet plan.
*Also important: don’t think about what you wish you could have ordered if you weren’t on a diet!  No good comes from that;)