How to dine out without sabotaging your results

Dining out can be one of the most challenging parts of sticking to a healthy diet. With all of the tempting, high-calorie options available,  it can be difficult to stay on target with your goals. We believe that dining out should be an enjoyable experience, not a stressful one. Check out the tips below to help guide you through your next meal out:

1. Aim for mainly protein and veggies

This simple strategy allows you to emphasize foods that will keep you the most full while keeping your appetite under control. Choosing lean protein such as fish, chicken, or a lean sirloin paired with a large mixed green salad or steamed broccoli can keep you from unknowingly consuming excessive calories.

2. Make a game plan

Being prepared is a major key to nutritional success. If you know where you’re going ahead of time, take a look at the menu and identify 2 or 3 options that fit within your daily goals. Going in with a plan minimizes the temptation of ordering less healthy options and also prevents unpleasant surprises later on about how many calories were actually in your meal. Many of our Fuel clients have had success with this strategy by asking us for suggestions beforehand. This takes out any of the guesswork and allows you to truly enjoy your experience.

3. Be cautious with appetizers and desserts.

While delicious, desserts and appetizers can quickly stack up the calories and fat in a meal. Most restaurant portions are already much, much larger than standard portion sizes. Ordering extras with your meal can add significant calories to your overall intake. However, in some cases ordering an appetizer with your meal may actually prevent you from over consuming depending on what you order. For example, a salad with light dressing and minimal high calorie toppings can be a great way to not overindulge on pasta.

4. Focus on your meal, be cautious with freebies

Along the same lines as appetizers and dessert, additional freebies like a basket of chips or rolls can significantly increase calorie intake. Think about it, did you really go to that restaurant for the tortilla chips or are you more excited about your main meal? If skipping the freebies is out of the question (especially if other members of your party are excited about them), make sure to portion out a serving size for yourself and stick with that. A standard serving of about 12 tortilla chips and a few tablespoons of salsa will keep you at around 200 calories. Rolls, biscuits, and other bread options vary by type but can sometimes be 300 or more calories. Sticking to small portions (which we’ll cover below) can help keep the calories in a reasonable range.

5. Be mindful of what you are drinking

Sadly, delicious milkshakes, lemonades, and sodas are also not calorie-free. Additional calories from drinks can very quickly add up without filling your up or providing any nutrient value. Your best bet is to stick with water, but if you’re really craving something with more flavor, make sure you know how many calories are in it.


These five simple tips are just some of the many tips we give to our Fuel clients to be successful in dining out situations. For more information on our Fuel program or a more individualized approach to your nutrition, contact us today!

Written by: Rachel Pulley, MS, RD, LD

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