Weight loss tips: Dining out

Social outings are a part of life, just because you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean life has to stop being fun. If you cut all enjoyment out of your life, you’ll be more likely to fall off track. However, that being said, I’m not advocating you to go out for food on a regular basis if weight loss is your goal. No matter how carefully you order, you’re not sure what’s going into your food in terms of butter, oil, and salt.

When trying to lose weight, eating at a restaurant doesn’t have to throw your entire plan off track. While some restaurants are better than others in terms of healthy options, there are ways you can work around the menu if needed.

Never hesitate to ask for food you don't see on the menu or to make special requests for how it's cooked. Restaurants can (and will) do a lot to make accommodations for you.

Never hesitate to ask for food you don’t see on the menu or to make special requests for how it’s cooked. Restaurants can (and will) do a lot to accommodate your request.

When you’re going out for a meal, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Look up the menu before you go. If possible, check out the options and make your decision before you go. If you do this, you’ll be less likely to feel tempted to order something less healthy. As with everything else, being prepared is the best way to avoid falling off track.
  2. Bake, broiled, grilled. Pay attention to the descriptions and opt for meals which are cooked in more healthy ways such as baked, broiled, and grilled instead of fried. Also avoid meals which are battered or crispy.
  3. Ask for what you want. Just because it’s not on the menu doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Almost all restaurants will do their best to meet your request. For example, Kyle’s go-to meal when we go to Boston Pizza (if he wants to keep it a little cleaner) is three plain grilled chicken breasts and an order of sweet potato fries. Beyond the usual requests of “dressing on the side”, don’t feel embarrassed to ask for a different side dish, no sauce, cooked plain (without butter or oil), or simply a plain piece of chicken and boiled vegetables.
  4. Skip the booze. Alcohol will add extra calories, and likely sugar, to your meal – useless calories which will add up quickly without any nutrient benefits. Stick to water and save the calories for your meal. This applies outside restaurants too, cutting out alcohol should be something you do all week if you’re trying to lose weight.
  5. Skip the bread basket. While we’re on the topic of skipping things, opt to forego the pre-meal snacks – whether it’s chips and dip, bread and oil, or an appetizer you usually order. Again, the extra carbs, calories, and fat aren’t worth it – save it for your meal instead. Plus, we tend to fill up on these things, but then still eat our meal, resulting in feeling overstuffed and gross.
  6. Two spoons. If you’re going to have dessert, share it with a friend. This way you can enjoy the sweet treat, without overdoing it. If you’re full after dinner, skip dessert completely so you don’t feel bloated afterwards.
No matter how good it looks, it won't help you reach your goal if you're trying to lose weight.

No matter how good it looks, it won’t help you reach your goal if you’re trying to lose weight.

If you decide to go out for a meal, don’t stress about being off your plan. Do the best you can to pick healthy options, or count it as a mental break, and just enjoy the change. Get back on your plan tomorrow and drink plenty of water to flush out any extra sodium you took in. Happy, healthy eating! XO

About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
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4 Responses to Weight loss tips: Dining out

  1. caileejoy says:

    These are such great tips! I love number 3 and 5! Being gluten intolerant I always skip the bread, but I also love to order exactly what I want (like a salad with chicken or salmon, and a sweet potato!!) YUM!!

    • Thanks Cailee! I can only imagine how going out to a restaurant would be challenging being gluten free. It’s an added bonus when the restaurant staff is actually happy to get you what you want, rather than seeming put out. That drives me crazy!

  2. I think #3 is my favorite tip that a lot of people don’t know about. A lot of restaurants are happy to customize your order for you!

    • I think a lot of people don’t want to “make a scene” or come off as picky or high maintenance. I figure if I’m paying someone to make me food, it should be what I actually want! Lol.

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