Find out how health experts navigate eating at restaurants.
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.
Beware of Fried Foods
Sure, frying is the reason so many restaurant foods taste delicious, but this method will add calories and fat to your daily diet quickly. Avoid the fried artichokes and fried vegetable appetizers, says Stollman. If you can get steamed or roasted versions, that will be much healthier—look for steamed spring rolls, dumplings, cauliflower, broccoli, and even steamed fish over fried. “If you're with a bunch of people and you have one order of fries and everybody has a handful, that's fine,” Stollman says. “But a side order of French fries can easily have over 1,000 calories,” she says. Be mindful of how sides can really rack up your meal’s caloric total.