Dining out with family and friends is fun; especially since most of us have not been able to do that during COVID.  However, it’s harder to make good food choices and eat single servings when portion sizes are double what they should be. Below are some tips to help you eat healthy when dining out.

  1. Read the Menu Before You Go – check out the menu before you go. You’re more likely to make unhealthy choices when you aren’t hungry. It’s also easier to avoid poor food choices when you have time to think about it ahead of time.
  2. Have a Healthy Snack Before You Arrive – you’re less likely to make poor food choices if you aren’t starving when you get to the restaurant.
  3. Drink Water Before and During Your Meal – by drinking water you will fuller so you won’t overeat. “One study showed that people on a diet who drank 500 ml (17 oz) of water half an hour before a meal ate fewer calories and lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t.”
  4. Check How Food is Cooked and Prepared – look for food that is steamed, grilled, or roasted. These cooking methods have less fat and fewer calories than those that are pan-fried, fried, crispy or sautéed.
  5. Try Eating Your Meal Mindfully – don’t eat in front of the TV; sit down and make a point of enjoying your meal. Take time the savor the aromas and flavors of your meal. It will help you to slow down and not inhale your food which prevents overeating.
  6. Order Two Appetizers Instead of a Main Meal – studies have shown that people who order smaller portions lose more weight than those who have larger portions in the main meal.
  7. Slow Down and Chew Thoroughly – by eating slower and chewing your food thoroughly you will eat less and feel fuller sooner. Other things to consider – putting down your utensils between bites and drinking water.
  8. Skip Dessert, Order Coffee – by skipping dessert you will cut calories and avoid added sugar. There are also many great health benefits associated with coffee.
  9. Avoid All-You-Can-Eat Buffets – I think we can all figure this one out. If you have to eat at a buffet use a small plate and make only 1 trip.
  10. Make A Healthy Swap – When you order your meal, ask the server to swap part of your meal, such as fries or potatoes, for extra vegetables or a salad. You’ll boost your vegetable intake and cut your calories.
  11. Ask for Sauces or Dressings on the Side – sauces and dressings can add a lot of extra calories and fat to your meal. Separating it in a small container help you to control the amount you eat.
  12. 12. Order a Soup or a Salad to Start – start your meal with a soup or salad so that you aren’t starving when your meal arrives and you overeat.
  13. Share with Someone Else (or Order a Half Portion) – sharing your meal with someone ensures both people get one serving and won’t overeat. If you are dining alone, ask the waiter to wrap up half your meal so you can take it home and have the next day.
  14. Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Drinks – most sodas contain a lot of sugar. Soft drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Drink water or unsweetened tea instead.
  15. Choose Small Measures of Alcohol and Low-Calorie Mixers – “Drinking alcohol can add a significant number of calories to your meal. The number of calories in an alcoholic drink varies depending on the strength of the alcohol and the size of the drink.”
  16. Go for Tomato-Based Sauces Over Creamy Ones – tomato or vegetable-based sauces over creamy or cheese sauces can help cut calories and fat from your meal.

Healthline, Nutrition