Whether you’re eating out on a Wednesday or it’s an anniversary, we all know it’s hard to stay healthy when dining out. We want the wine, the dessert, all the appetizers, and often your partner is an enabler!
You can eat out and still lose weight with these 9 strategies to ensure clean eating at restaurants.
So, here’s how to keep your nutrition in check the next time you’re out on the town.
9 tips to eat healthy on date night
Let’s face it, if you have weight loss goals, eating out at restaurants is not helpful. But, it’s enjoyable. And weight loss shouldn’t deprive you of things you enjoy.
According to science, cooking at home is a smarter option for your waistline. After all, the vast majority of restaurants serve unhealthy foods in portions far too large.
This study concluded that “The frequency of consuming restaurant food was positively associated with increased body fatness in adults.”
We love to eat out, but only 1-2 times per week. The other meals are those simple, healthy recipes.
“Easy. You want Americans to eat less? I have the diet for you. It’s short, and it’s simple. Here’s my diet plan: Cook it yourself. That’s it. Eat anything you want—just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.” – Harry Balzer
Balzer, a now-retired food industry analyst at the NPD Group, studied what Americans have eaten since the 1970s. He knows better than anyone what Americans need to eat to lose weight.
The problem with Fad Diets: Science vs. Willpower
Now that we’ve stressed how important it is to cook at home to lose weight, we’ll share 9 tips on how to eat out and still lose weight.
When eating at a restaurant, this is what you can do to eat clean and avoid weight gain.
1. Plan Ahead
To eat out and eat clean, it’s important to pick out the restaurant ahead of time and check the menu.
Decide on an entrée selection before you leave the house. That way, you’ve settled on a nutritious choice that won’t make you feel guilty in the morning. This leaves room for spontaneity in choosing the appetizers and desserts together.
2. Go 2 out of 3
To dine healthy and avoid overeating and weight gain, commit to having just two out of the three choices of appetizer, dessert, and a drink.
You’ll still feel satiated without being too full. Otherwise, your date night dinner may keep you from enjoying the rest of your night.
3. DIY The Menu
When you’re dining out, remember that you are the customer. This is one of the best ways to eat our and lose weight.
Restaurants often take perfectly healthy ingredients and mix them with fat, sodium, and empty calories during preparation. Since you’re the customer, don’t be afraid to tell them how you want your food prepared.
Be high maintenance. Always put a stop to mayo and ask for sour cream, sauces, dips, condiments, and dressings on the side. You can always dip your fork in the dressing instead of pouring it over your salad.
When you don’t see something perfect on the menu, feel empowered to DIY the menu. Rearrange the menu and ask the server to replace the mashed potatoes or french fries with steamed broccoli or a salad.
4. Choose Wine
Red wine, in particular, is a healthy choice when eating out.
Red wine contains antioxidants to support heart health and improve cholesterol. After that, white wine and beer are the next best option with their array of micronutrients.
As for cocktails, they’re not good because of their high sugar. Just remember, for every alcoholic beverage you drink, follow it up with a glass of water to rehydrate your body and make sure you don’t have a hangover.
5. Be Curious
Since your goal is to eat out and lose weight, it’s essential to ask how they’ll prepare your food if the menu doesn’t specify.
Avoid any of the following:
- Au gratin
- Cream sauce
These won’t make you feel sexy on date night! Go for the meal that is steamed, broiled, baked, or sautéed.
6. Watch Your Portions
Chances are, if you are eating out in the U.S., you are over-served.
One method would be to proactively box up half your meal before it arrives at the table. Another technique, which is slightly less high maintenance, is to eat slowly and see how your body feels. Put your fork down between bites.
In English, we often ask, “Are you full?” However, in France, they ask, “Are you satisfied?” Use that as your benchmark to stop eating. If you’re still hungry after fifteen minutes, by all means, go right ahead and finish.
7. Light On The Salt
At any restaurant, we can guarantee that they will go heavy on the salt to please your taste buds.
Ask your server to go light on the salt or don’t add it at all. You can always add more. When we had a date night in Texas and forgot to make this request, we’d feel dehydrated and tired after a salty dinner.
It’s not that salt is bad. We cook with it all the time at home. But, restaurants are known to overdo it.
The purest and healthiest salt in the world is Sal De Maras. Peruvian families farm it. It’s the only farmed salt in the world. We visited the salt farm and love cooking with their salt and supporting their community.
8. Skip Freebies
To dine out and not gain weight, pass on the basket of bread or chips.
The best things in life aren’t always free. If they bring them out, the temptation will be too strong. Therefore, you have to pass on these items right after you order.
Also, we don’t think that carbs are bad, but the freebies are typically simple unhealthy carbs.
Plus, eating a lot of carbohydrates so late in the day will spike your glucose and insulin levels. Not only will this energize you before bed, but it obstructs your body and brain from repairing properly overnight while you sleep.
9. Dinner Is Not The Date
If you’re eating out with your partner, instead of having the meal be the be-all-end-all, why don’t you couple it with a walking tour, massage, pottery class, or head out to a dance hall?
That way, you won’t feel like you need to lounge and spend your night on the town only at the restaurant! Having plans after dinner will prevent you from overindulging too.
At the very least, walk to and from dinner if at all possible!
CLosing thoughts on Eating out and WEight Loss
Now you can be smug about clean eating while eating out! Which ideas will you try out to eat healthy at restaurants? Let us know in the comments section below.
30-Day Weight Loss Challenge
As engineers with ten years of health coaching experience, we needed to create a data-driven way for our clients to sustain weight loss. The number on the scale matters for weight loss, but other numbers are significantly more important.
Too many weight loss challenges involve a long list of what you can, cannot, and need to do every day. We’ve reduced the overwhelm and only require you to track five numbers a day — calories, steps, fiber, sleep, waistline.
In this 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge, you'll track five numbers daily to give you the highest return for sustainable weight loss.
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
Join our 120,000 monthly readers