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Healthy Choices | Eating Out On A Diet

Everyone loves enjoying a nice meal out with their friends or family. The social atmosphere, fine dining cuisines, and specialty drinks makes us all want to indulge in our restaurant favorites!

When enjoying “ladies night out” with the girls it’s so easy to sip down 3 or 4 sugary margaritas while chit-chatting with your friends. Know what goes good with margaritas? Mozzarella sticks and beer-battered pretzels! What could’ve been a low calorie meal with a low calorie drink quickly spiraled into 1600-2000 calories in one sitting.

It’s close to the holiday time, it’s cold outside and you want something warm to fill your stomach. Chicken fried steak smothered in white country gravy with a heaping portion of garlic-butter Parmesan mashed potatoes? Who could say no?#

With these tips on how to avoid those tempting treats, you can! First of all, let’s break the two most common myths of eating out.

If you’re “dieting” you can’t go out to eat

False. It’s wise to make your own meals and should attempt to keep the number of times you dine out to a minimum, but you are most definitely able to find menu items that suit your healthy eating goals.

If you eat out, your only option is a salad

Completely false. It’s the 21st century – health is on the uprise! With all the calorie-counting technology, latest diet fads and trends, and restaurant competition, there are PLENTY of healthy choices for you to enjoy.

Tips For Eating Out On A Diet

We all know the basics: choose vegetables over french fries, choose lower-fat options, and stay away from fried foods; but there’s more to it than that!
Here are some ways to avoid over-stuffing yourself and making healthy choices while dining out.

Drink lots of water

Drinking water helps keep you full, being the easiest tip/trick to use when you’re at a place where you might over-indulge! Order water and try to drink one full cup before your meal is delivered.

Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions

Some customers are too afraid to ask to change the menu item for fear of making the waiter/waitress angry. Don’t be afraid – be assertive! If you’re really embarrassed about it,  fib a little and mention that it’s because of an allergy. That way you’re still getting your food the way you would like it, and it doesn’t make you feel bad for being picky. Ask if you can substitute cottage cheese for french fries, a side salad instead of mashed potatoes, and light or fat-free dressing instead of full-fat.

Get it on the side

A serving size of salad dressing is approximately 2 tablespoons. The amount poured on top of your salad by your serving is generally much more than that, and you’re not sure how much they used when you’re calculating it into your calorie tracker. Ask your server for a side cup of dressing/sauce instead.

Look for the logo symbolizing a healthier choice meal option

A lot of restaurants now have a light, low-cal, heart-healthy menu of some sort. If the menu doesn’t have its own space for these options, often there is an apple symbol, calorie counter, or a little star next to menu items that are lower calorie or figure-friendly.

Pizza Hut offers a “skinny pizza” that has reduced toppings, cheese, and sauce lowering the overall calories per slice.eating out diet

AppleBees has a 550 calorie  “pub diet” section to their menu.

Taco Bell even has a “fresca” menu to try and accommodate healthier lifestyles!

Make sure to really read the description of what you’re getting

What sounds like a simple “6oz sirloin with a side of mushrooms” could be so much more when reading the fine print. Many menu items have glazes, sauce reductions, and fancy butter flavorings that make the dish seem more appealing, but not calorie-friendly! Which takes us back to the substitutions, just nicely ask the server to cook the vegetables without a  sauce, and to not add any flavored toppings while cooking the meat.

eating out on a diet

Watch your portions

If you’re wanting to get something that isn’t the healthiest choice, stick to the other rules of health: portion control. An order of pasta comes in a holiday dinner-sized serving bowl rather than an individual bowl you would eat out of at home.  Ask for an extra plate to share with your friend, or a to-go box and take half of it home.
Ask for a to-go box right when your meal comes, this will save you from indulgence! Before you start eating, box half of your meal up, and eat the other half that is  left on your plate, leaving you no excuse to eat more than you should at that sitting!

I’ll have it on the rocks

eat out on a dietNo form of alcohol is really “healthy” for you: our body recognizes it as the toxin that it is. But like everything else, there are “healthier” options when wanting to have something you enjoy.  Choose lower-calorie beers as alcohol carries many calories, especially when having more than one! Fruity drinks like margaritas and daiquiris hold the most calories, fat, and sugar.

A vodka with soda water is always your best bet, with vodka having 95 calories per 1.5 ounces and soda water having zero calories.  Whiskey and gin are also low-calorie drinks when consumed plain or on the rocks. A red wine holds close to 130 calories for a 6 ounce glass, with added nutritional value as well, if you must choose a drink then this is a good option.

Again, alcohol is a toxin and not advised when following a health regime!

Take-Home Message

There are plenty of varieties and choices when eating out. It doesn’t have to be boring, you don’t have to just eat a salad, and you can still enjoy a beverage if you’d like!

Life is all about moderation, enjoy yourself while you are out, but keep in mind what you are putting into your body. Skimp on calories, not on flavor.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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