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Dining Out Strategies

By Lindsey House, RD LD Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise and Beth Taschuk, RD LD


Bariatric patients are often encouraged to reduce their dining out due to the oversized portions and hidden calories and fats found in restaurant meals.  Patients may be diligent with grocery shopping and preparing their own meals, however life events will eventually force a patient to deal with restaurant dining.


It’s important to be educated and understand how to choose healthy while dining out. To make the best decisions possible, strategies are listed below: 

  • Ask how the food is prepared
  • Request that food be prepared differently (such as broiled or without the sauce)
  • Send food back if it is not prepared to satisfaction
  • Ask for items not listed on the menu (such as grilled vegetables or lemon for your salad)
  • Request a doggie bag, even before the food is served
  • Put your napkin on your plate when you are finished to prevent unintentional nibbling
  • Hold the bread or the chips until the meal arrives
  • Pass on bottomless free refill soda and other sweetened drinks
  • Check out the options labeled “healthy” on the menu
  • Share a main dish with a dining buddy
  • Consider making a main course out of your appetizer (i.e. salad, shrimp cocktail and soup)
  • Avoid buffets and choose your restaurant wisely (try looking up the restaurant’s nutrition facts prior to the occasion)

Contrary to popular belief, ordering healthy does not doom you to dull eating.  Patients need to get a little more creative in their ordering styles, but can still have meals full of flavor.  Small changes, like splitting a meal or getting a to-go box, can make a huge difference in your calorie intake. Utilize the strategies above and enjoy some occasional dining out!