Staying on track while dining out

Staying on track while dining out

Posted by Coach P.; October 14, 2013

Most of us enjoy dining out. There are many reasons why we prefer to eat out, the biggest reason being time restrictions. According to the CDC most of us eat meals and snacks away from home on any given day simply because it’s seemingly more convenient.

This may be a problem when you are trying to stay on track with a weight loss regimen. Restaurant food is usually higher in sugar, calories, and trans-fats and lower in nutrients, compared to home-cooked food. Restaurants also serve larger portions, meaning we often eat more than we do at home. Social eating often encourages poor decisions, or emotional judgments are made, with a justification that it is a “special occasion.”

Do you need to avoid restaurants entirely to stay on track? Of course not! With some planning and initiative, eating out can be both healthy and enjoyable. Here are some simple tips to apply so that you can eat out without sabotaging your weight loss journey.

Coach P’s Dining Out Tips

Plan ahead.
Select restaurants where food is cooked to order. The food is more likely fresh and real food, rather than a fast-food or buffet-style chain, where the food is more than likely microwavable junk.

Choose restaurants wisely. 
Avoid places with alluring multi-course meal specials, supersize deals, and all-you-can-eat or buffet-only specials.

Read the menu well. 
Don’t just skim through and look at pictures. Ask questions. Restaurant personnel are responsible for knowing the nutritional content of each item on the menu. Say no to unhealthy and high-calorie fats; choose steamed, poached, broiled, baked, grilled, or roasted foods over fried and breaded. Many restaurants will honor requests for low-salt, low-saturated-fat versions of certain dishes. According to, you should try to steer clear of dishes described with these terms (which usually indicate less-healthy preparation):

  • Au gratin
  • Basted
  • Braised
  • Buttered
  • Buttery
  • Casserole
  • Creamed
  • Scalloped
  • Fried
  • In cheese, butter or cream sauce
  • In gravy
  • Pan-fried or pan-roasted
  • Sautéed

And one of my favorites I would like to add, “cheesy.”

Ask for smaller portions or save half for a later time. 

Do not order juice and soda.

Instead, have a glass of wine and lemon water. You will easily save calories.

– Coach P.