Restaurant Dining How-To: Fitting Restaurants into your Meal Plan

When you are following a meal plan, it may seem difficult to stick to your goals when dining outside of the home. However, there are many ways to keep you on track and maintain the joy of the experience. Here are a few tips to follow during the process to ensure that dining out still fits within your meal plan.

Before you go

Browse menus beforehand. Looking at restaurant menus before you go is a good way to prepare for the dining out experience. Whether you need to choose an establishment or one has already been selected, viewing the menu prior to arriving will help you identify foods to choose without being rushed to a decision in the moment.

When you’re ordering

Add vegetables. Adding vegetables to any meal can fill you up on nutrient-dense foods, keeping you less inclined to overeat other not-as-nutritious selections. Try ordering a salad before your meal or doubling up on a side of vegetables.

Stay away from creams. Many soups and dressings can be cream-based, adding unnecessary high saturated fat content. Instead, choose broth-based soups and oil-based dressings. You can also ask to have sauces and dressings served on the side of the dish to better control how much you consume.

Substitutions. Don’t be afraid to ask to modify the meal. Restaurants excel at customer service and often aim to accommodate their customers when possible. Also feel free to ask how a dish is prepared. We often consume additional butter and fats unknowingly that were added in the cooking process but not mentioned on the menu.

When the food arrives

Immediately ask for a to-go box. Separating your food into what you will eat now and leftovers for another meal can help prevent overeating. Many portions that restaurants provide consist of multiple servings. Save half of your meal for tomorrows lunch to prevent eating too much and to save money on another meal you don’t have to purchase!

Drink lots of water.  Drinking plenty of water during a meal can help slow your eating and increase your fullness. This allows you to better digest your food and sense levels of fullness during a meal.

Be mindful. When we pay attention to eat bit of food we are eating we can appreciate it more, taste more flavors, and are less likely to overeat. Eat slowly and without distraction to reap the benefits of mindful eating.


Dining out doesn’t have to be a deal breaker (meal-breaker). Use these helpful tips to enjoy the cultural benefits of dining out with others while still sticking to your health goals.

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