Eating Out



Portion size is out of control in our country. A good example of this is when we eat out, we are eating at least three times more in a restaurant than we would at home for a meal. We all want to have a “night out” and treat ourselves, but we can still make smarter choices for our health when we eat in restaurants.

One thing to keep in mind is that portion sizes should be about the size of our own fist. If your steak or the side of mashed potatoes is double that size, than bring the rest home! Another good tip is to put your fork down between each bite. The next time you are out, look around you and notice how others are taking bite after bite without pausing. They clean their plate in less than 8 minutes. Putting your fork down in between bites forces you to pause and allows you to digest your food more efficiently. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to send a message to the brain that it is full, and by that time most people have all but licked their plates clean- give your belly a break! And don’t ever be hesitant to ask your server to make changes to the menu. You are paying for the meal!

Here are some other tips that I suggest about how to make healthier choices and still enjoy a meal out:

• Just say NO to bread, chips and salsa and other starchy filler foods and appetizers 

• Avoid anything with words crispy, fried, breaded, glazed, and even sautéed (in a restaurant, that usually means drowning in butter) 

• Avoid cheese and croutons on salads and ask for dressing on the side (a better option is oil and vinegar on the  side) 

• Ask your server to fill 2/3 of your plate with greens or vegetables and 1/3 plate with lean protein (like fish,  boneless skinless chicken, etc.) 

•Order the protein (fish, chicken, beef) grilled or broiled with olive oil (no butter) 

•Avoid sauces and creams as they are hidden sources of calories and fat

•Order 2 sides of fresh vegetables vs. mashed potatoes or white rice, and ask for them grilled or roasted lightly in olive oil (no butter) 

• If you are drinking alcohol with dinner, drink a glass of water before your first drink, then drink at least one  glass of water per alcoholic drink thereafter

•Remember, don’t get discouraged… other diners may have different health goals than you.  

Many people think if they are going out at night, they should starve themselves all day to “save up”. Don’t make this mistake! By the time you get to the restaurant, you may be so ravenous that you end up eating the whole basket of bread before any of friends or family gets their hands on it! Simple choices can add up to better habits which can lead to lasting healthy decisions and results. The most important thing you can do is focus on enjoying the company you are dining with and savor the experience!