The Secret Sauce: Tips for Eating Clean While Dining Out

The Secret Sauce: Tips for Eating Clean While Dining Out

The Secret Sauce: Tips for Eating Clean While Dining Out


Eating clean while dining out doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether it’s a date night with your significant other or a family occasion, it’s possible to have a delicious meal while not ruining your diet. The main goal of these strategies is to reduce the chance of overeating as much as possible.  These tips will help you make smarter and healthier decisions, but their effectiveness can only take you so far as you’ll need to continue to practice willpower and stay mindful of your goals when going out to eat. That said, here is what we can promise you: if you follow these strategies, dining out responsibly will be easier than ever before.


Tip 1: Plan Your Meal Ahead of Time     

The great luxury of living in the 21st century is having access to the world’s largest information database: the internet.

Most restaurants have all their nutritional information for their meals posted online, which allows you to plan and choose the healthiest option before you dine. All you need to do is go to their website, find their menu, and once you choose your meal you can look up the calories and nutrient information. Be careful though, sometimes that salad packed with tons of toppings and croutons can have as much fat and calories as a fast-food burger. The key here is to be sure to choose the meal that BEST fits into your current diet.


Tip 2: If You Don’t Know the Calories, Make it Simple

Okay we know what you’re saying right now. Yes, there are smaller restaurants that don’t have the nutritional information of their menu items listed online. But don’t be persuaded! You can still go out and make smart, healthy choices.

The key is to order simple. In other words, choose an entrée that only has a few components. An example would be a meal that only includes a piece of lean meat, veggies, and a carb-dominant side (potatoes or rice).  Choosing a simple meal like this will lessen the chance of accidentally overeating on sneaky calories that might get added in.

Think about it this way, if you order a simple entrée that includes a steak, mixed veggies, and a baked potato, it’ll be much easier to estimate the calories and/or macros. The only things you’ll need to watch out for is how fatty the cut of meat is and if it looks like it was cooked in a lot of oil or butter.

Now say you were to order something like lasagna, it would be much more difficult to guess the exact ingredients or even be able to estimate the portions of protein or fat that are in it.


Tip 3: The “Pick Two” Rule 

Most restaurants include multiple courses: bread, salad, chips & salsa, an extensive list of entrees, and of course, desserts. The “Pick Two” Rule is exactly what it sounds like: You should choose just two, and only two, of these courses. This will help control your calorie intake while also allowing for variety.

A little piece of advice to avoid looking like a complete idiot who will still be hungry at the end of the meal, we suggest you make one of your two choices an entrée. After all, if you skip the entrée and just eat bread and dessert you’re going to get some weird looks as well as ruin your diet. The rule should really be called “Pick an Entrée and One Other Thing,” but that doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it. So, pick two (including your entrée), and you’ll be less likely to consume an unnecessary amount of calories.


Tip 4: Be Smart with the Happy Juice    

This rule always gets an eye roll or a disgruntled remark, but it works people, so just keep reading.

Drinking alcohol has gotten a bad rap in the fitness world, and while excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain, the actual reason that it’s detrimental to your progress is due to all the food you eat while you’re drinking.

News Flash: It’s possible to drink and not get fat, but it’s difficult.  Reason being, when you start to drink, all your willpower goes out the window and instead of following the Pick Two rule, you pick twenty. And they’re all desserts.

So, if you do drink when you’re at dinner, try to limit yourself to 1 – 2 beverages and consume them before you eat or once there’s no food around. We also suggest you opt for a low-calorie option over a dark beer or some fancy margarita. Try having a vodka and diet club soda which only rings in around 120-150 calories per drink.


Before the Restaurant:

  • Look at the menu online before you leave home and choose the items you want
  • Drink 8oz. water before you leave home
  • Before you head out the door, apple + almonds. This'll help you ward off the chip/bread bowl


Before the Restaurant:

  • Always order sauce/dressing on the side
  • Choose a protein with 2 vegetables and a healthy fat (avocado)
  • Order your burger with no bun or on a salad
  • Change it up -- if the dish is meat served over pasta, ask for the same but served over salad instead
  • Make sure not to order anything fried
  • Ask for no salt added
  • Add extra vegetables
  • Ask for double order of mixed veggies instead of pasta or rice
  • For breakfast, instead of potatoes, ask for sliced tomatoes or a side of fresh fruit

Items Not on the Menu:

  • You can ask for steamed vegetables as a side (add real butter or olive oil)
  • You can order a grilled protein (chicken, salmon, etc.) with just salt and pepper
  • Ask for a lettuce wrap instead of bread or a bun


Food Swaps:

Spaghetti ----> Spaghetti Squash

Chips ----> Baked sweet potato chips, beet chips, or kale chips

Fries ----> Baked sweet potato or carrot fries

Rice ----> Cauliflower rice

Mashed potatoes ----> Mashed rutabaga

Pizza Crust ----> Crust made with cauliflower rice

Baking with flour ----> Almond flour or coconut flour

Salt ----> Lemon juice (salad dressing, fish, chicken, etc.)

Milk/Dairy ----> Almond milk or coconut milk

Potatoes at breakfast ----> Sliced tomatoes

Sandwich bread ----> Lettuce wrap

Mayonnaise ----> Honey mustard or paleo mayo

Sugar ----> Coconut sugar, honey, or Stevia

Sour Cream ----> Greek yogurt, coconut oil, or applesauce

Toast ----> Ezekiel bread

Croutons ----> Sliced almonds (in salad)

Bowl of ice cream ----> Bowl of frozen cherries or grapes



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