Tips for eating out and losing weight

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"For any weight loss plan to be successful, it must be sustainable. That means you won't be a happy camper if you constantly have to "pass" on eating out with family and friends. While eating at home does have its advantages - after all it gives you better control over what you eat, how it is prepared and the size of each portion - we know that eating out is a part of nearly everyone's lifestyle at one time or another. Listed below are a few simple tips that can keep dining out fun and easy without sabotaging your weight loss goals:

Start with a glass of water. Even if you're having coffee or tea with your meal, water supports digestion and it also has a filling effect without adding any calories.

Skip the croutons and bread. Bring your own! Wasa crackers, Melba Toasts and Rounds, and even Saltines all provide great, lower-calorie options that can be crumbled over a salad or enjoyed while you wait for your healthy entre to be prepared! You'll want to aim for a serving size of about 50-60 calories (and unfortunately, virtually all restaurant bread options exceed this).

Most restaurants will not bat an eye if you choose to order off of the children's menu. Another clever idea is to order an appetizer portion. Either way you automatically reduce the serving size to a more realistic and healthier portion.

Request that salad dressings and other sauces be served on the side to give you better control over the serving size.

Ask your server to prepare your meat and vegetables without any added sauces, butters, or oils. It's very common for kitchens to add a pat of butter to a steak, or to soak your vegetables in oil. By requesting in advance to have butters, sauces, and oils left off, you can be sure to avoid all those hidden calories.

Substitute starches (such as pasta, rice or potatoes) for an extra side of steamed or grilled veggies."

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