How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

How to Avoid Hidden Temptations and 11 Other Tips!

how to eat healthy when dining outNinety-two percent of Americans say they enjoy going to restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association.[i] And for 41 percent, eating out is an “essential part of their lifestyle.”

We enjoy eating out for many reasons — it’s a break from cooking (and doing the dishes), it gives us a chance to socialize with family and friends, and, of course, there’s the food. Two-thirds of adults said their favorite restaurant foods provide “flavor and taste sensations which cannot easily be duplicated in their home kitchen.”

And perhaps therein lies the problem …

Restaurant meals are often tasty … but they’re also notorious for giving you a day’s worth of sodium, fat and calories all on one plate. If you eat out often, your weight and your long-term health are likely to pay for it — unless you choose your foods carefully. It is possible to eat healthy when dining out, so if you love to go to restaurants, here are some essential tips for you.

How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out … 11 Key Tips

11. Scope Out the Menu Ahead of Time

Most restaurants post their menus online. Scan the food choices before deciding on where to eat and, even better, choose your healthy meal before you even leave your house.

10. Beware of Pre-Meal Freebies

The basket of rolls and butter? The chips and salsa at your favorite Mexican place? They can easily add 500 calories or more to your meal (all of refined carbs) without your even thinking about it. You probably don’t eat a couple of servings of bread before your meals at home … so don’t do it at a restaurant either. If you can’t resist the temptation, ask your server to remove them from the table (or not bring them out at all).

9. Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Better of You

Menu descriptions use words to play on your emotions — “legendary pasta,” “Grandma’s meatloaf,” “decadent chocolate cake.” When you read the menu, try to tune out the extra fluff and just focus on the food beneath it.

8. Ask to Triple Your Veggies

Vegetable servings in restaurants are sometimes small — a few stalks of asparagus or a tablespoon or two of broccoli. Not only can you ask to replace the starch at your meal with extra veggies, you can ask for extra on top of that. It’s an excellent way to get more nutrition and feel satisfied without overdoing your calories.

7. Order Broth-Based Soup or a Side Salad

People who eat a salad before their meal eat about 12 percent less than they normally would, even when offered as much as they want of tempting foods like pasta, Penn State researchers found. Enjoying a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup before your lunch will fill you up similarly to a salad, and research shows will result in your consuming 20 percent fewer calories at your meal (soup included!).[ii]

6. Eat Only Half

Most restaurant portions are huge, so set your sights on only eating half of your meal before you even start. If it makes it easier, share a meal with a friend or ask to have half of it packaged “to-go” before it’s brought out to the table. You can also order a healthy appetizer and pair it with a soup or salad for a more appropriate sized meal.

5. Get Sauces, Gravy and Dressings on the Side

We know part of why you like eating out is because you can get “special” sauces and dressings that you can’t ordinarily get at home. So, instead of asking your server to hold the sauce entirely (which would make for an admittedly bland meal), ask for it on the side. Use the “tines trick” — dipping the tines of your fork into the sauce, then spearing your food — to get a taste of sauce with each bite without overdoing it.

4. Order Water

One of the biggest sources of empty calories in restaurants come from the drinks. Soda, alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic specialty drinks will give you a hefty serving of sugar and calories but not much satisfaction to go along with it. Order water, tea or (plain) coffee instead. And, if you do decide to have a cocktail, stick with a glass of wine or a beer — not a mega margarita or other high-calorie concoction.

3. Don’t Fall for the Healthy Options That Aren’t

Salads that are loaded with fried chicken, cheese and goopy dressing are notorious for this, but other “wolves hiding in sheep’s clothing” on restaurant menus are chicken dishes that are sautéed in oil, fish that’s fried, “loaded” baked potatoes, and “healthy” pasta meals that come with enough pasta for three people.

2. Eat Slowly

This is a trick you can use anytime, as it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to “hear” the signal from your stomach that you’re full. So the faster you eat, the more likely you are to overeat.

how to eat healthy when dining out1. Take a Few Spritzes of This Before Your Meal

Because of its special blend of natural ingredients like L-Tyrosine, DHEA and chromium, ThinMist helps STOP your cravings immediately. It only takes a few spritzes under your tongue before a meal to calm your raging appetite and banish cravings — even the strong ones for carbs and sugar! — so you’ll be able to keep your food choices easily in check even when you go out.


[i] National Restaurant Association, 2012 Restaurant Industry Fact Sheet

[ii] Study presented at Experimental Biology 2007, May 1, 2007

Filed Under: Healthy Eating
Written By:
Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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