Lavender Living: Eating Out

Let’s take a few minutes to talk about one of my favorite things to do - eating out. It's a fun, easy, and sociable experience, but studies show that eating out often leads to overeating and poor food choices. It's easy to get caught up in the experience, and let nutrition fall by the wayside. Next time you eat out, try these helpful tips to stay on your healthy eating plan while still enjoying your meal.

Check out the menu beforehand.

Most restaurants have their menus on their website. Decide what you are going to eat before you get to the restaurant and are tempted to order something unhealthy. Making a plan ahead of time makes it more likely that you will stick to your healthy eating habits.


Drink your water.

Try and drink a glass of water while you are waiting for your meal. This will keep you from mistaking thirst for hunger. Continue to drink water throughout your meal and avoid ordering sugary drinks filled with empty calories.

Check how the food is prepared.

You will want to avoid foods on the menu that are described as creamy, stuffed, pan-fried, breaded, or buttery. Instead look for foods that are grilled, baked, broiled, or steamed. 

Be assertive.

Don't be afraid to ask how foods are prepared if the menu description is unclear. You can always ask for foods to be cooked differently as well. Ask for it to be cooked with less oil or cheese, or for chicken to be grilled instead of fried. Most restaurants will accommodate off-menu orders as well, like grilled chicken and steamed veggies.


Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

Having the sauces and dressings on the side give you the control of how much you consume. With salads, doing the fork dip before skewering the lettuce keeps the lettuce crunchy and fresh, while getting a smaller amount of calorie-filled dressing in each bite. 

Ask for substitutions.

Swap out french fries for a salad or steamed / roasted veggies. A baked potato topped with salsa is another healthy alternative. 

Pay attention to serving sizes.

One 3 oz. serving of meat is about the size of the palm of your hand. Restaurants often serve much larger portions, often double or triple this amount. Before you begin eating, cut off the extra portion and set aside to take home. Or, split an entree with someone else and start with your own side salad.


Keep the salad healthy.

Salads can quickly turn into an unhealthy option with creamy or sugar-filled dressings or other added items like croutons and fried noodles. Order your salad with vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon and oil. If you must order a dressing, ask for it on the side. If you crave the crunch of something like croutons, ask for nuts or seeds instead.

Skip the bread basket.

If you are easily tempted, ask the server to take the bread basket (or chip basket) away from the table. Or place the basket out of your reach so that you don't mindlessly grab for a nibble... or ten.

Eat slowly.

Take time to enjoy the company and savor each bite. Not only will this make the experience more enjoyable, but it will also give you time to realize when you're full and satisfied.

Order coffee for dessert.

Skip dessert and grab a piece of dark chocolate at home. If the other guests are ordering dessert, order a coffee to enjoy instead.

Achieving your fitness goals doesn't mean you have top stop enjoying life. While eating out typically isn't as healthy as prepping food at home, with some planning and healthy swaps you can both eat out and stay on track!