Yes, you can enjoy delicious restaurant meals if you are trying to lose weight. Here’s how.

You’ve probably heard time and again that you should avoid eating at restaurants if you are trying to lose weight. But is eating out at restaurants off the menu just because you’ve committed to a diet plan? Not at all! It’s crucial for any diet plan that you choose to work as part of a well-rounded real-life experience. That means there needs to be room for the occasional lunch date, night out with friends, or splashy celebration at your favorite restaurant.

The case for eating out gets a little more challenging when you’re talking about ordering from restaurants every single day when trying to lose weight.

However, there are ways to eat out without gaining weight if you’re willing to be mindful.

There’s no magic formula that changes the fact that you have to pay attention to what you’re eating when you dine away from home. Here are ten smart tips to help you do just that!

Tip #1: Look at the Menu Ahead of Time

When it comes to eating healthy when dining out, it’s essential to prepare in advance. It’s not uncommon to have to wait for a while before eating, especially if you are dining out on the weekend. This leaves plenty of time for you to become famished, even if you were not hungry when you left the house. You are more likely to overeat when you are really hungry. Also, when you are hungry, it’s harder to concentrate. So, you might have trouble making healthy choices. Therefore, take a look at the menu online before going to the restaurant. Find out what is available and think about what options might fit into your diet so that you are ready to order when you get there. If you use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your nutrients or calorie intake, you can plug the information into the app ahead of time for your meals.

Tip #2: Know What to Avoid

Nobody is saying that any food should be considered “forbidden.” Part of having a healthy relationship with food is feeling empowered to choose what you want to eat. However, anyone aiming to lose weight while enjoying the restaurant experience should try to avoid three common pitfalls. These pitfalls are sugar, alcohol, and deep-fried foods. This tip alone will help you avoid unnecessary fat and calories that will slow you down. What’s more, the truth is that nobody really ever feels great after loading up on these things anyway.

Tip #3 Eat a Healthy Snack Before You Go

Before you leave for the restaurant, munch on a healthy snack. It can take a while to get your food when eating out. If you are ravenous by the time the bread comes out, you may very well end up sabotaging your diet. A great way to prevent this is to eat a high-protein, high-fiber snack before you go. Protein and fiber help tame hunger hormones, which can help you feel more satiated.

Tip #4 Choose Unsweetened Drinks

Sure, water is the best choice to keep you hydrated. But, if you are craving something more, you might be tempted to give in and order a soda or margarita. Unfortunately, most restaurant drinks are packed with sugar. If you have been trying to figure out what you can drink, here are a few options: sparkling water, unsweetened tea, and water with lemon. Sipping on unsweetened tea or sparkling water can help you stay hydrated and help prevent overeating.

Tip #5 Don’t Stigmatize Salad

You might dislike the idea of ordering a salad at a restaurant because it screams that you’re on a diet. However, the truth is that many restaurants make spectacular salads. This can be both good and bad when trying to lose weight. The good news is that you can get an outstanding balance of protein and fiber-filled greens if you know how to order a salad the right way. Grilled chicken, grilled fish, lean steak, avocado, boiled eggs, and nuts can all offer healthy protein and fat. The bad news is that some salads have more calories than something like a sandwich simply because of all of the add-on ingredients. You want to be more careful when it comes to salads that toss in bacon, breaded chicken, or other “heavy” items that are likely to be fried in grease. Lastly, ask for olive oil and vinegar on the side instead of a creamy dressing.

Tip #6 Focus on Grilled Vegetables

One of the best low-calorie options when eating out is a plate of grilled vegetables. You’ll enjoy that you feel like you have a lot to eat without feeling like you’re filling up on greasy, fried foods. If you want to lose weight by eating out, consider vegan restaurants that prepare thick eggplant, portabella mushrooms, or zucchinis in ways that are similar to how other restaurants prepare cuts of meat. This allows you to enjoy a healthier meal that still has plenty of flavor and interesting texture.

Tip #7 Don’t Assume That a Portion Is Really a Serving

Know the difference between a portion and a serving size when eating out. Many restaurants pack plates with portions that represent anywhere from two to three or more servings of food. Create a visual of how much of your plate actually represents an appropriate serving before your fork digs in. This will allow you to eat at the right pace for how much you intend to consume. Another option is to ask for a to-go box when you receive your meal and pack up half right away. There’s no shame in boxing up the rest for home!

Tip #8 Avoid Sneaky Calories

A few slices of bread before your meal, an overflowing margarita, and that slice of raspberry cheesecake that you see as “extras” can easily exceed the number of calories in your actual meal. If you eat out often, you’ll generally want to avoid these things if you are trying to lose weight. However, indulging every once in a while is fine. One good strategy is to make a bargain with yourself that you’ll choose just one indulgence to add to your meal.

Tip #9 Make Fish Your Signature Dish

One of the best hacks for losing weight when eating out is to make fish your go-to dish. The reason why is because restaurants tend not to offer huge portions of fish. That means that you’ll get a very appropriate cut of a delicious fish that is rich in healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. The flavor and richness of fish are likely to leave you feeling too satisfied to overindulge in side dishes.

Photo by Dana Tentis from Pexels

Tip #10 Rein In Your Sweet Tooth

Finally, don’t let your sweet tooth derail all of the effort that you have put into eating healthy while dining out. Instead, wait until you get home and end your meal with something healthier. Most restaurant desserts are enormous and easily more than one serving. If you decide to order dessert, share it with one of your friends or family members.

What’s the Best Strategy for How to Lose Weight by Eating Out?

The best strategy for losing weight when eating out may be to eat at restaurants only occasionally. For many people, eating out is a way to save time. However, there is another option that most people don’t think about — made-to-order, fresh foods. We are talking about foods that are prepared fresh using healthy ingredients like ginger soy chicken breast. These meals rival those you’ll find in restaurants, as they are prepared fresh.

Choosing meal delivery is a great option that is between relying on restaurant meals and cooking everything yourself. Many people use professional meal prep services to have healthy meals waiting in the fridge.

There’s another reason why you might want to focus on planning meals ahead of time instead of walking into a restaurant or takeout place. According to a study conducted by the United States the Department of Agriculture (USDA), each meal eaten at a restaurant adds 134 calories on average to a person’s daily intake. The number of added calories was even higher per day for people who were considered obese. What’s more, eating out was associated with eating nearly a quarter fewer servings of leafy greens, fruits, and whole grains.

The beauty of meal prep is that you can enjoy delicious, restaurant-quality foods without feeling like you’re getting derailed from your plan. When eating out, one problem that’s easy to run into is feeling “trapped” by a menu. Being in a rush means that many people settle for whatever they can get instead of prioritizing nutritional value. The best part is that getting serious with meal prep means that you’re covered for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks without any feelings of deprivation.


Emily Mendez, M.S., Ed.S. is a mental health writer and wellness expert. She’s been quoted by leading news sites like INSIDER, Family Circle, Bustle, Fatherly, Brit + Co, Romper, Elite Daily and more. Before embarking on a career in writing, Emily was a private practice psychotherapist. When she’s not writing, Emily’s either finding new places to explore on the map, perfecting her dance moves, or binge-watching Netflix. Read more at

Write A Comment