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Ten Not to Miss Tips for Dining Out

By Abbe Klemme, RD LD


We all enjoy dining out but we don't want to sabotage our healthy eating efforts. Use these simple tips to help avoid the restaurant pitfalls.

  1. Take control! When dining out in a group, you can pick the location so that you have control over what types of foods are served.  Research online prior to eating out. Look at the menu options as well as the calorie count.
  2. Ask the restaurant to remove the bread, chips and salsa, or biscuits from the table.  These can add up to 500 extra calories before you’ve even received your entrée. 
  3. Avoid the cocktails. Adding liquor to your meal can amount to an extra 200 to 500 calories.
  4. Look at the entire menu before ordering. Keep in mind that appetizers or side dishes may be appropriate for your actual meal along with a small salad. 
  5. Read between the lines. When reading menus, foods referred to as smoked, barbequed or teriyaki are high in sodium. Foods described as breaded, sautéed, au gratin, scalloped, cheesy, or creamed are going to be high in fat.
  6. Many people feel that when going out to eat, salads are always the safest bet. However, adding breaded chicken, bacon, croutons, blue cheese and other goodies can potentially add more than 700 calories to your meal. Stick with vegetables, lean meat, fish or beans, and keep your dressing on the side.
  7. When choosing an appetizer, select a low-fat, high protein option (such as an Asian inspired lettuce wrap).
  8. If you want to have pizza, order thin crust and choose vegetables, pineapple or Canadian bacon for toppings.  Blot excess oil from the top before you indulge.
  9. Save some for later. Ask for a to-go box when you order your entrée. When the meal comes, box half and eat the other half (or whatever amount satisfies you). Now the other portion is out of sight and out of mind.
  10.  Take your time and enjoy the flavors of the food. There is a lag time between when you finish eating and when your brain realizes you're full.  Fill up on conversation; enjoy the ambiance and experience of dining out.