12 Nutritionist-Approved Tips for Dining Out

Find out how health experts navigate eating at restaurants.

12 Nutritionist-Approved Tips for Dining Out

When you’re trying to slim down and stick to a healthy eating plan, a restaurant visit can seem unnerving, threatening to derail your latest weight loss efforts. You don’t need to ditch restaurant meals until you’ve hit your goal weight, just learn how to prepare for these higher-calorie foods and the best ways to enjoy indulgences as part of your diet plan. Here, nutrition experts share the tips they practice when eating out. “Going out to dinner is part of everyday life,” says Miami-based Marina Chaparro, R.D.N., Clinical Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Educator, National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You shouldn’t be afraid of going out to dinner for fear of gaining weight. Learn how to order at a restaurant and plan ahead. The more you know about the restaurant or cuisine, the better choices you can make,” she adds.

More: 10 Foods a Nutritionist Never Eats


Adjust Your Eating the Next Day

When you go out for a special meal and indulge, get back to your normal eating the next day by making sure you load up on low-calorie veggies. If you took half of your heavy dish home, it’s okay to have it again the next day, says Delbridge. “If I had a deliciously rich pasta dish that was amazing and I still have a portion left the next day, I might have that as a side tonight with some marinated grilled chicken and vegetables,” he says. “I think an adjustment can be made the next day but don’t detox the next day and try to work your meal off with a punishing workout,” Delbridge says. “Just add an extra half hour of activity and maybe trim down some portions or snacks,” he suggests.

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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