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What's Your Advice for Staying Slim While Eating Out?

What's Your Advice for Staying Slim While Eating Out?

Once again we have another user that needs your advice and I know you guys have got this one in the bag, so here's her question:

Hey Fit! I just started a new job that requires me to eat out a lot (like every night during the week) with clients for work meetings and dinners, but I am having a hard time figuring out what to eat so I won't gain like 20 pounds. Do you have any suggestions for keeping slim while constantly eating out at restaurants? I'm seriously clueless and I can already feel my jeans getting tight.
-Eating Out of My Figure

Help a fellow Sugar user out by sharing your suggestions for her in the comments section below. You may even learn a few new tips to bring with you the next time you're eating out.

Join The Conversation
lintacious lintacious 10 years
no fried food ever. order water with lemon. for me, i dont order anything in a restaurant if i can make it at home. this usually rules out all pasta which is always more fattening and not nearly as tasty in a restaurant anyway.
lovelie lovelie 10 years
This may not necessarily be such a bad thing. I think one of the big problems with eating healthy is that it can be more time consuming to make a meal that is balanced correctly, and even a little tougher on your wallet. Eating out allows someone else to do this for you if you order correctly. Whenever I eat out on the week days I naturally always try to order lighter. For example...seafood (salmon, scallops, whatever they have on special)...with a side salad using oil & vinegar for dressing. Additionally, I try to always ask for veggies as a side rather than mashed potatoes or french fries. If you are eating at an ethnic restaurant I would suggest to look ahead...these days many restaurants have their menus online so you can get a sneak peak and find out what some of their dishes are.
Annika14938867 Annika14938867 10 years
I have this problem because I love to eat out, not because I'm forced! So I have lots of tips. Drinks have tons of calories, so order water with lemon. Try and drink a glass or two before the food even comes to fill you up. Then order grilled fish or chicken. As your side, ask for vegetables. My problem is that I don't want to look like I'm eating healthy. Just check the items included in each dish and if you see a long list of sauces, butter, and non-nutritional things, skip it. If you see things like chicken, vegetables, etc, you're good to go. Places typically have food that is good for you, it is just invisible next to the sauces, cheese, and desserts. :)
pixelhaze pixelhaze 10 years
Oh and I don't know what kind of job this is or what kind of clients you have, but be sensitive of the people you're dining with too. In most cultures the doggy bag is extremely rude, and I personally would feel uncomfortable sticking half my meal into a box in the middle of a nice restaurant before I had even started eating.
ccsugar ccsugar 10 years
If worse comes to worse, and EVERYTHING looks fattening, just order a salad with tons of veggies on top, low-fat dressing on the side, and if possible, grilled chicken on top.
colormesticky colormesticky 10 years
The easiest thing to do is to just ask them to bring a carry out box out along with your order. As soon as they set the plate down, cut everything in half and put the other half in the box. Now you're set for lunch tomorrow, and you won't pig out if you finish what's on your plate.
pixelhaze pixelhaze 10 years
I prefer a light dinner myself, so I would go with an appetizer instead of an entree, or maybe a light soup (I love a warm soup in the evenings). Plus I always think about what I had at lunch, to make sure that my whole day is balanced, meal wise. For example if you prefer to make lunch your lighter meal and had a sensible salad i would suggest getting pasta at dinner. It's usually a cheap option, you can get a light tomato sauce, and since a lot of restaurants now offer whole grain versions you might get a nice amount of fiber. Or if you went the other way and had the pasta at lunch then get a soup at dinner, etc.. . . If you have a say in choosing the restaurant, maybe try to think of places that serve healthy options, such as restaurants that specialize in vegan dishes, etc. Japanese food is usually pretty healthy, unless it has been "Americanized" but steer clear of Thai (even though it is soooo good). Greek restaurants offer great options, as do french and even Italian (It's not only carbs, you know). And lastly (even though it goes without saying) make sure to be dutiful with your exercise! Many people would be jealous of the oppotyunity to eat out every night, but don't abuse the privilege. Whenever you feel like staying in bed instead of heading for the gym just remind yourself that you are going to do 30 minutes on the treadmill so that you can order something really tasty that evening.
smartypantssugar smartypantssugar 10 years
Don't keep picking at your food. I do this all the time. I'm done with my meal, and I'm full but I just keep eating because it's there. I've starting taking my napkin and unfolding it over my plate until the waiter picks it up and I can get a doggie bag. Some people pour salt or something all over their leftovers, but that seems so wasteful. You don't want to seem high-maintainance or picky at business dinners, so while you can make some special requests, don't go overboard like Meg Ryan in when Harry Met Sally. I also wouldn't avoid wine if everyone else has a glass (unless you already do, for whatever reason), just have one glassAvoid anything fried or blackened and pick sauces like marinara over alfredo, or ask for no cheese. And finally, if you know you've got a dinner that night, watch your calorie intake during the day, get in a workout if you can, and drink lots of water.
olliecat olliecat 10 years
I try to avoid the bread basket and order something "healthy" like grilled chicken. But, I've heard that restaurants often spray food with butter right before it goes out to the table (to make it look more juicy/appetizing.) so I think it can almost be impossible to avoid all those extra calories altogether. The easiest thing is not to go out to so many dinners in restaurants (not practical, but it does nip the issue in the bud). I easily stick to a diet when I'm not eating with other people or going to a restaurant.
am am 10 years
if i know that there is a meal planned for work that isn't that healthy, i bring my own food and eat it first. then i just grab bites of what is being provided. in this case, share an appetizer or eat your own, but don't eat a whole meal. i wouldn't go to these meals hungry, cuz then you will just get added calorie after added calorie. go already pretty satisfied with something healthy in advance.
Glamourgasm Glamourgasm 10 years
portion control, and make healthy choices. stick to water and no booze!
sperle-25 sperle-25 10 years
if you control what you eat during the day, then you might not have to have a devious dinner plan. set a daytime calorie limit that wont make dinner skyrocket your total daily calorie intake. i eat something small every two hours at work. things like fruit and yogurt or string cheese. it keeps me full all day without taking in a huge amount of calories. then at dinner i dont feel like i have to be as super calorie conscious. and since i've been full all day i dont have that starving hunger that makes we want to eat everything in sight!
frappelattes frappelattes 10 years
I love the idea of giving the packed doggie pack to a homeless person :) They would love that! I know I would.
nikkipez nikkipez 10 years
i agree with flowerpot about the salad thing. Youd be surprised how many calories some salads have with the fixins (cranberries, walnuts, cheese, etc.) If you order a salad be smart with the dressing and ask them to leave some of the fixins out, OR go with a grilled chicken or fish dish prepared in a healthy way. A big way I cut calories is like others mentioned, switching out sides. Risotto, mashed potatoes, fries, those kill me. Its hard for me to eat a few french fries or one forkful of mashed potatoes. Ask for a side salad (again, careful lol) broccoli, steamed veggies, etc. Also, watch out for how things are prepared. The oils and sauces can add up. And DONT BE AFRAID TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR MEAL!!!!! restaurants have more flexibility than you think, dont be afraid to switch things and get things prepared the way YOU want. Youre the customer. Ask them to remove the bread basket, if thats ok with everyone else, and Ive heard of some ppl asking for half their entree packed up in a doggie bag before it even hits the table. Ive never tried the packed up thing but its certainly a good idea. Give the doggie bag to a homeless person or something on your way home. Good luck! )
malpal25 malpal25 10 years
Only eat half of it and take the rest home (: That's what i doooo!
misstsapinay misstsapinay 10 years
Here's a few things that I do: - Don't touch the bread or "appetizers." If you MUST have one, split it in 1/2. - Stick with water and a lemon. Iced teas, sodas, and alcohol are just wasted calories. (Especially if you're eating out EVERY NIGHT!) - When in doubt...Order the pasta with marinara sauce. It's usually a lower in fat option. (Only eat 1/2 and save the other 1/2 for the next day's lunch.) - Dinner should be a lighter meal, so it's probably safe and best to order a salad as your entree. Ask for it without cheese and croutons. Just because it's a "salad" doesn't mean that it's healthy. (Restaurants tend to add on things like bacon, croutons, meat, cheese, nuts, etc. which will add up.) Ask for a plain garden salad. - If you order the salad, ask for the low fat dressing to the side. Dip your fork in it before each bite. You won't use all of the dressing, meaning less calories, and you'll get dressing in every bite you take. - If there are no low fat salad dressings, ask for lemon wedges. Lemon juice is fat free, and it works as a GREAT dressing with some pepper. Hope this helps!
charmer charmer 10 years
everyone has basically the same suggestions. i would just like to add... 1. ordering soup can fill you up so you don't overeat 2. limit your portions and ask them to wrap the rest to go at the end of the meal 3. obviously avoid anything fried, ask them to modify to grill/steam/broil with little/no oil and any sauce on the side good luck! if all else fails, try vegan restaurants which can be surprisingly tasty and some even serve meat so it's the best of both worlds for you and your clients.
flowerpotpot flowerpotpot 10 years
My boyfriend is in culinary school and he says there is a lot of misconception about salads. Just because you're ordering a salad doesn't mean its automatically less calories.. You may also want to think about the dressing you put in there and the size of the serving. If you're having a humongous salad with lots of dressing, you might as well opt for grilled chicken or something because its gonna have the same amount of calories. And meat will definitely fill you up more and you won't be hungry later on.
syako syako 10 years
Go to or and see if the nutrition information for the restaurant is online. I do this a lot when I know I'm going to more of a chain-type restaurant. But it can work for local places too. If you're going to an Italian place that doesn't have nutrition content online go to some that do (i.e. macaroni grill, olive garden, etc) and look at calorie and fat counts. Obviously they won't be the same but knowing that the chicken marsala at olive garden has 970 calories and the one at macaroni grill has 1130, you can get a rough estimate. If you have colleagues with similar fitness and health goals split the entree with them. Just get a small garden salad before (with light dressing, not creamy and on the side) and you'll be less likely to gorge through the entree. Also, like someone else said, order an appetizer instead of an entree as your dinner. They are smaller portions.
mem952 mem952 10 years
salad are probably a safe bet- but don't be "that girl who always orders the salad". there will often be healthy options such as grilled fish that are very healthy. sauces and dressings will tend to be high fat and salt so avoid dishes where these are the feature of the dish. steer clear of high carb foods (pasta etc) too. the restaurant staff should be able to help you choose a healthy option and most menus will cater for a variety of appetites. i like llendril's suggestion that you pick from the menu before you are even in the restaurant.
buffyanne buffyanne 10 years
Check online for the menu or call ahead to have the menu faxed so you can decide ahead of time what your healthy selection will be. Cheers to your health!
delovely03 delovely03 10 years
Stick with the salads and order the dressing on the side. If the salad comes with something like tortilla strips on it, ask them to leave those out. If you want the mozzarella cheese that comes on it, get it, but tell them to go easy on it. It's much easier for a restaurant to Not put something in a dish than to add something to it. Eat moderately throughout the day so that by dinner you can afford those few extra calories that will inevitably wind up in your dish, as restaurants enhance the food with ingredients and olive oils that are sometimes invisible but loaded with cals. Drink diet coke or a glass of dry red wine - the dryer the wine, the less residual sugars it has. However, champagne has the least amount of calories when it comes to wines, so put that corporate card to use and be a classy lady!
eaker eaker 10 years
Don't order entrees. Get an appetizer and a side. Most restaurants offer a vegetable side, be sure to request no fat added otherwise they will probably be drenched in butter.
workofiction workofiction 10 years
Try starting out with a salad, dressing on the side (dip your fork in the dressing then pick up the lettuce so you get a bit, but don't drown your salad in it) or a broth based soup. When your entree comes if you don't feel comfortable asking the server to box half of it up in front of clients, make a mental note about how much half of it is and only eat that. If you have a hard time stopping at half and can't get it boxed in time pour salt or sugar or whatever is at the table over it to avoid overeating.
llendril llendril 10 years
first, i'd see if has the particular restaurant i'll be visiting listed. that always helps. i ALWAYS look at the restaurant's website before i go out. generally they'll have a menu posted, so i can plan ahead of time what i'll eat and stick to the plan. it's very easy to be tempted by the really fattening foods once you sit down to read the menu and are starving. that's why it helps to already know what you want. my last tip is to go easy on the alcohol. if you'll be ordering a drink, ask for it to come when your entree comes. if i get a glass of wine before my meal arrives, i find myself sipping a lot and usually want another glass as soon as dinner hits the table.
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