Eating At Restaurants On a Diet

Eating At Restaurants On a Diet can be a cause for concern and anxiety for those looking to lose weight. In this post we'll look at how we can make it work whilst on a diet and avoid 'blowing' our progress.

Eating At Restaurants On a Diet is one of the advanced skills that we develop as part of our Nutrition Coaching Programme. It’s therefore, no wonder that a lot of people dread eating out whilst trying to maintain a diet.

However, there is no need for things to get to this level. Letting go of control for a lunch or evening out is entirely possible. From time to time it should be encouraged and with some simple steps it’s easy to stay on track.

Let’s look at how we can best approach it…

Want help making healthy food choices?

Our online nutrition coaching programs provide education, support and accountability.
Having a coach review every meal you make and eat gives you peace of mind that you are heading in the right direction.
Programs start from 4 weeks in duration (€85) to 6 months.

1. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Review the menu upfront

Many restaurants now publish their menus online. This allows you to review them ahead of your visit and provides additional time for you to consider what options are going to be in line with your diet.

Depending on how nutrition aware the establishment is, some menus even include the calorie totals for the meals and some go even further and provide the macro nutrient breakdown to show the Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat totals in each dish.

Even without this level of information, you should be able to pick the best options to fit in with your goals. Remember that even when nutritional information is provided, it is best to assume a 5-10% inaccuracy due to the dishes being prepared to order.

Eating At Restaurants On a Diet

2. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Making Selections From Menu

Try to match your meal selection to the nutrition / diet programme that you are currently following. E.g. if your goal is to lose weight and you have spent weeks following a programme which matches carbohydrate intake to your exercise level, you don’t want to go and order pizza, chips, garlic bread and a soda!

Try to assess the meals and match them to the meals you’ve been advised to eat as part of your programme. Sometimes, this may not always be 100% possible, which leads us onto point 3.

3. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Making Menus Work For Your Diet

Remember you are the customer and the aim of the restaurant should be to ensure you leave not only satisfied but extremely happy with your experience.

So if a choice on the menu is close to being compliant with your diet but has a single item that stops it being so, don’t be afraid to request a substitution. The worst that can happen is that the kitchen can’t accommodate your request.

Common examples are many dishes coming with fries / chips by default. Simply replacing these with a house / green salad can make a large number of meals compliant.

4. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Don't Be Too Saucy!

Whilst you can eyeball and estimate calories in a lot of dishes, it is usually the sauces and oils that are used in restaurants which will add the ‘hidden’ calories.

An easy tactic is to ask for the sauce to be served on the side. You can then use it as a dip and control how much of the sauce you consume.

Want help making healthy food choices?

Our online nutrition coaching programs provide education, support and accountability.
Having a coach review every meal you make and eat gives you peace of mind that you are heading in the right direction.
Programs start from 4 weeks in duration (€85) to 6 months.

5. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Hold The Bread

Most restaurants will look to start you off with a basket of bread. This can easily add several hundred calories to the meal calorie total. Personally, I would rather have a dessert than 4 slices of bread!

I would recommend asking them to hold the bread, it’ll likely come with a saving to the bill total as a bonus!

Eating At Restaurants On a Diet

6. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Decide Up Front How Many Courses

If your plan is to have a starter and a main meal, then stick to your plan and don’t end up adding a dessert.

Likewise, if you aim to have a main and dessert – execute that plan.

7. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Desserts

If you are craving a dessert and you really want one – consider sharing a single portion with your dining partner.

You’ll still get the satisfaction of having the taste but keep the portion size to a minimum and consume half of the calories.

Eating At Restaurants On a Diet

8. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Order A Jug Of Water

Drinking water before and in between courses slows your eating down and aids in allowing your stomach time to register that it is satisfied and full with your brain.

Eating At Restaurants On a Diet

9. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Alcohol

I’ve written a whole piece on this which you can read here -> Alcohol and how to make it fit with your diet.

Eating At Restaurants On a Diet

10. Eating At Restaurants On a Diet - Eat Slowly

This is a meal out and supposed to be a social event. Don’t be the person that clears their plate in seconds!

Take your time, enjoy the experience and give your stomach time to register with your brain the amount of food it’s had.


Want help making healthy food choices?

Our online nutrition coaching programs provide education, support and accountability.
Having a coach review every meal you make and eat gives you peace of mind that you are heading in the right direction.
Programs start from 4 weeks in duration (€85) to 6 months.


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