Healthy Options for Eating at Restaurants

15 Jan
English: An image of my family eating a meal. ...

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I have been traveling this weekend and have spent most of my meals eating at restaurants. This made me think about many of my clients who have had challenges reaching their goals because of having to eat many of their meals at restaurants.

Eating out can be challenging because you have less control in how the food is prepared and what options are available. It can also be challenging to resist all of the yummy options that are listed on the menu. And sometimes there is so much food!

Restaurants often add tons of butter, fat, salt, and sugar to make food taste extra yummy. The portions served at most restaurants are double to triple the normal portion sizes. Some meals may even equal your entire daily caloric requirement. Yes, that dinner at Cheesecake Factory could very well amount to 1500 calories!

Eating out doesn’t have to amount to love handles and muffin tops. If you make smart decisions, you can enjoy a great meal and leave it feeling and looking great.

Well below are the guidelines I live by and advice I hope you can use when eating meals at restaurants:

1. Drink a ton of water.  The more water you drink, the fuller you will be and the less you will want to eat.   When you are at a dinner where the waiters keep refilling your wine glass, be sure to alternate between your water and wine.

2.  Forego the bread if you are planning on a big meal.  Who really needs bread, appetizers, salad, drinks, and dessert?  That’s a lot, so minimize it by skipping the bread.

3.  Make appetizers a meal.  If the appetizers look really good, why not share appetizers and a salad as your meal.

4.  Go for salad over soup to reduce the bloat.  It’s a great opportunity to get fresh greens vs. all the sodium in the soup.

5.  Ask for the dressing on the side.  Most restaurant pour the dressing on, which could easily add 25 grams of extra fat, so why not have it on the side and dip your fork in when you want.  I have found that this makes the salad taste better and I don’t need as much dressing as I thought.

6.  Ask for all dressings on the side.  Dressings are loaded with fat, sodium, and can be quite heavy so by asking for it on the side, you can determine how much you’d like with your fish, steak, or chicken.

7.  Share dessert.  If a dessert looks really good, get it, but share it with the table.  Don’t be Miss Piggy.

8.  Aim for light drinks, which means red wine, diet sodas, water,  and light beer.   Avoid fruity drinks, regular sodas, and any drinks containing cream.  Also remember that these calories add up too.

9.  Doggy bag it.  If you have trouble leaving food on your plate, ask the waiter the portion size when you order and see if he can bring you half and put the other half to go.

10.  Keep everything in perspective.  If you had a really big meal, do you need dessert? How does your body feel after the meal?  If you are stuffed, do you really need to eat more?  No one said you have to eat it all.  If you are full, ask the waiter to wrap it up or take it from the table.  If you are getting ready to head home, do you really need another drink or coffee?

I love trying new restaurants and enjoying time with my family, friends, and coworkers.  It should be a pleasurable experience, where you can savor the food and the conversation, and still achieve your fitness goals.  Let me know if there are tips you use that help you enjoy your meals!

Song of the day:  Throw Your Hands Up by Pitbull

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In Health and Happiness,


One Response to “Healthy Options for Eating at Restaurants”


  1. 16 Words to describe Love Handles « confessandchillax - January 21, 2012

    […] Healthy Options for Eating at Restaurants ( […]

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