• The Feeder

Substitutions Rule!

And Other Advice for Dining Out

by Stacey Raza


Whether you want a night off from cooking or are treating your family to a special meal, just because you’re dining out, doesn’t mean you have to leave your healthy habits at home. By keeping a few tips in mind and choosing carefully no cuisine is off limits.


Note: My tips are sometimes more about the preparation for the meal, rather than the meal itself.


Think ahead! If you are starving before you get to a restaurant—maybe you skipped a meal or thought you would “save up” calories—you are highly likely to splurge on high-cal options, even if you didn’t budget for them. When you are starving, willpower and good nutritional sense go out the window. So, eat a small snack ahead of time to curb your hunger before you head out the door. An apple, a little hummus and veggie sticks, a handful of almonds are all enough to stave off hunger and maintain willpower.


Look at the menu online before you get to the restaurant. Decide what you are going to order and don’t even open the menu or listen to the specials when you get arrive. Stick with your first choice.


Don’t be shy! Ask for substitutions! If a meal comes with fries, a mayo-based salad like coleslaw, or other unhealthy sides, ask for a side salad or extra steamed veg instead. Yes, the additional $2 or so you may have to pay is annoying…but very worth it!


Just say NO! to the bread basket. Before the waiter even has a chance to set it down, tell the waiter, “no thank you.” Then ask if they have olives or cut veggies instead.


Sometimes main dishes feel big enough to feed a family of four! Ask for an appetizer instead as your main course. There are lots of great choices and the size is right. If you want to try another dish on the menu, order an appetizer and split a main with your dining partner.


Want to know what to order at Mexican, Mediterranean or Italian restaurant? Read more here.

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