Mar - Apr 2021

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, 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. You will absolutely be able to stick to your healthy plan, if you truly want to.  So it is up to you to incorporate ways to navigate.


Read this checklist and see how many of these ideas you are already doing.  If there is a strategy you have not yet tried, then try it next time you are dining out:  


Selecting the Restaurant. Choose the restaurant wisely. Try looking up the restaurant’s menu and nutrition facts before you go. Check out the options labeled healthy on the menu. Look for seafood dishes that you know you can tolerate.  Consider making a main course out of your appetizer (i.e. salad, shrimp cocktail and soup). Avoid buffets. 


Food Preparation. Ask how the food is prepared. Request that food be prepared differently (such as broiled or without the sauce).  Ask for items not listed on the menu (such as grilled vegetables or lemon for your salad). Send food back if it is not prepared to satisfaction.

During the Meal. Ask the waitstaff to hold the bread or tortilla chips which are typically on the table when you arrive.  Share a main dish with a dining buddy or ask them to pack half of the meal in a to-go box so you are not tempted to overeat. Put your napkin on your plate when you are finished to prevent unintentional nibbling.  


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 your dining experience.