11 Tips to Keep Your Diet on Track While Eating Out

Stick to your weight-loss goals without giving up your social life.

December 1, 2017
Group of women dining
monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

Dining out can be challenging when you are trying to eat a healthy meal. Thankfully, it’s also easy to navigate. Here are a few tips to help you stick to your weight-loss goals without giving up your social life. Try it the next time you go out to eat.

Restaurant menu
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images
1
Read the menu before you go.

If you’re not familiar with the menu, read it beforehand. You’ll be more social at the table, and making a quick decision about your meal makes you look confident. The chances of you ordering the fettuccine alfredo increase when you’re hungry, distracted, or feeling like everyone is looking at you. Plan ahead. This only takes a few minutes and helps avoid snap decisions you’ll regret on the way home.

More: 13 Strategies for Eating Out With Diabetes

Hungry man
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images
2
Don’t arrive hungry.

If you sit down at the table famished, your chances of overeating increase dramatically. Eating a high-protein snack, such as Greek yogurt, ahead of time will help take the edge off your hunger.

More: The 16 Best Foods to Eat When You’re Seriously Hangry

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
 
Stately man ordering dinner
Westend61/Getty Images
3
Question your food.

The way food is prepared greatly influences calorie content. If the menu is not clear, ask your server how the dish is prepared and request a different method of cooking such as grilling, steaming, or with light oil if necessary. Most servers are used to these sorts of questions.

More: 6 Eating Hacks for Weight Loss

Group of women dining
monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images
4
Enjoy your company.

Going out to eat isn’t just about food—you’re there to connect. Paying attention to the people you’re eating with will help you eat slower. Not only will you strengthen relationships, you’ll also enjoy the experience more and your body will be thankful.

Foreboding tropical buffet
Lynn Fagerlie/Getty Images
5
Skip the buffet.

It’s a buffet! Which means it’s socially acceptable to eat three plates of food, right? Wrong! Most of us have difficulty estimating portion size to begin with, but the allure of eating as much as you want without having to pay more drives many people to “get their money’s worth.” If you do end up at a buffet, eat a large salad first, and then use a smaller plate for the rest of your meal. If you must, have one dessert instead of six.

More: 7 Simple Ways to Lose Weight

 
 
Soft drink
toondelamour/Getty Images
6
Avoid soft drinks and lemonade.

Every restaurant offers water, so feel free to drink it. Soft drinks and lemonade are loaded with sugar—the exact type of calories you want to avoid. If you must drink something with flavor, ask for unsweetened iced tea.

Salad
Riccardo Livorni / EyeEm/Getty Images
7
Get your dressings on the side.

Restaurant salads are usually loaded with dressing. Order it on the side so you can have a better idea of how much you’re eating, or better yet, request olive oil and balsamic vinegar so you can control the ratio and amount of each ingredient yourself.

More: 15 Simple Salad Dressings You Can Make at Home

Chef explaining menu
Steve Debenport/Getty Images
8
Order off-menu.

Many chefs are happy to adjust a recipe to meet your needs. Most meat, chicken, fish, and veggies can be grilled or steamed, which are healthier and lower-calorie methods of cooking. Don’t be afraid to ask.

 
 
Bread basket
photovs/Getty Images
9
Send the bread back.

In the moment, this is a tough decision to make. But warm bread before dinner is a temptation you don’t need while you’re hungry and waiting for your meal to arrive.

More: 10 Rules for a Healthy Low-Carb Diet

Pumpkin and potato soup
mpessaris/Getty Images
10
Start with a soup and salad.

Beginning with a soup or salad can help reduce the amount of total calories you’ll eat during your meal. Just make sure it’s a cup of soup, not a bowl, and preferably not full of noodles. Opt for broth-based soups when you can.

More: How a Bone Broth Diet Can Help Ease Wrinkles

Women enjoying lunch
PeopleImages/Getty Images
11
Keep each meal in perspective.

One meal never ruined anyone’s ability to lose weight. Even if one slips through the cracks, it’s not the end of the world. The more weight you lose and the more muscle you build, the easier it will be to deal with an occasional slip-up.

More: Your 5-Step Plan to Stop Emotional Eating

See Next