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85 Tips & Strategies for Dining Out

Take the Challenge Out of Dining


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  • Always a good idea to work on keeping calories within reason when eating out. However, unless you eat out all of the time, why not allow yourself to splurge every now and then? Eating out does not have to be such a stressful event. And after a wonderful meal out it's right back on track, moving on with my life. - 1/18/2017 12:26:34 PM
  • If I decide to splurge when going out for Italian, I ask for a pink sauce that's two thirds marinara mixed with one third Alfredo. I get a taste of what I want and leave the rest on the plate. - 1/15/2017 3:05:08 AM
  • This article must have been written before the chain restaurants exploded and the menus are what they are - and other than "dressing on the side" and asking them to take away bread and butter there's not much they can do to the meal - they don't cook most of them fresh. We avoid those restaurants in favor of the old style less popular (so no TV either - hooray) where you actually can order what you'd like to have within reason. But there is good news. Applebees, Panera and some others now have fresh foods and restaurants are required to list a calorie count if not nutrition information. I loved Marie Callendars - really loved it and thought many things were healthy - and they are actually OK - if you eat 1/4-1/3 of the meal. More than that and you also consume 1/2 a days calories without the benefit of nutrition. I personally lost my sense of taste completely with surgeries and therefore look, mouth feel (think full fat) and aroma are important to satisfaction. I just have to watch it carefully. Didn't succeed Saturday - Indian veg - not buffet but still way too much fat. There is no "on the side" with curry. It was the first time in my 21 days I went WAAAYYY over and walked away happy but hungry. - 12/19/2016 8:50:23 AM
  • I always download the menus and the nutrition info to my phone. I have a fold where they are stored. I will update them from time to time. I find the nutrition info informative while making my choice.

    Most restaurants have this available on the web. - 7/15/2016 8:21:04 PM
  • Aside from some editing concerns, my biggest issue is with the anti-avocado sentiment. Don't believe me? Here's this Spark People article to help you out:
    any_health_benefits - 6/20/2016 6:19:13 AM
  • We have boughten into the lie that lower fat is good, while eating higher carb stuff, whereas the newest studies have proven just the opposite. So, cut the carbs,,,, except for veggies and your meal can be perfect.
    Butter .... it's proven that it's better than any substitute.
    I have been out lately and one of the advantages of a buffet is that one can pick and choose exactly what to eat, and the quantity, but then the person has to be in control of what they put on their plate!
    At a Vietnames restaurant, while ordering a vermicelli bowl, I was able to avoid certain things I can't eat by leaving out some things, but I didn't ask for special things to be added...
    Just some thoughts...... - 3/18/2016 12:42:38 PM
  • I appreciate the thought put into this article. Hubby and I ate out about three times a week. Since he is in Health Care, I don't go out much. - 2/10/2016 12:11:45 AM
  • SHAHAI16
    I found this somewhat helpful, but I rarely eat out (mostly special occasions), so I don't feel that bad splurging on a nice meal and I just adjust my intake at other meals those days...Also, most times I pick one of the "healthier" options, the lack of flavor isn't worth it. I used to work at a restaurant so I despise the people who want to make a bunch of substitutions. The most I do is get the dressing on the side. - 2/5/2016 12:12:45 PM
  • I found the article very helpful and detailed. I already do some of these things. I see no problem with asking for substitutions and omissions in the meal that I'm paying for... If they can't do it they will let you know. An extra tip for the server if they go the extra mile. I went out to eat 3 times this week which is unusual but if I "splurged" each time my diet would be shot and I'm eating for health reasons even more than weight loss. Thanks for all the tips. - 1/23/2016 11:29:10 AM
  • Reading the comments tells me that this advice didn't work for everyone but I have a lunch date coming up and really don't want to break the healthy streak I have going (19 days - WooHoo) so I have been preparing. The choice of restaurant was left up to me, so I looked up menus on line and even checked nutritional content of some dishes. So I know where I am going and what I will order and there will be no angst or guilt. And I'll make sure I'm not overly hungry and I'll suggest a table away from the kitchen. By taking these steps ahead of time I think I'll enjoy my companion's company even more. Win win. - 1/21/2016 11:47:41 AM
  • or you could just go out and enjoy yourself for once... once a month or every couple of months isn't going to hurt anything. if you're eating out daily or weekly, you're doing it wrong! you need to figure out why you're spending so much money and not cooking for yourself. - 1/18/2016 6:34:30 PM
  • I always take half home - at Olive Garden & the like, I take 2/3 home. Instead of overwhelming the wait staff, I ask for minimum changes, then take home whatever is outside my range. For some reason, wait staff wants you to have more, so the changes I ask for are all sauces on the side, including butter - that is easier on the wait staff than saying no sauces, etc. Then I either leave it there or take it home, but I won't eat it. For salads, I ask for lemon slices instead of dressing. I tip a little better when the changes are right-on. 8-) - 1/18/2016 12:58:11 AM
  • I know this article is a couple years old, but I truly found some of the suggestions here to be a little over the top:

    Going online to check the menu? Yes
    Calling ahead, requesting a specific table away from the kitchen, having the menu faxed or emailed to you at home, and giving them a list of your requirements (other than sever allergies of course) prior to going? Not likely.

    Yes most restaurants are able to accommodate special requests, but getting them to totally re-design dishes is not what they're there for - not your usual run-of-the-mill restaurant or pub, anyway.
    Asking for extra veggies on your salad, dressing on the side, or your protein to be grilled/baked/broiled etc without any extra breading/oil/butter is one thing.
    But having them re-design (and re-PRICE) an entirely new meal is very challenging, as most restaurants operate as the culinary version of an assembly line.

    If for instance you wanted to order the chicken picata, (a breaded chicken in butter lemon sauce over noodles), and you tell your server you want the chicken picata.
    BUT, you want the chicken grilled, not pan fried, you want it seasoned with herbs, not breading, you want the lemon butter sauce to be replaced with a tomato based sauce with veggies added to it, and you want your side dish to be something not even on the menu.....How do they price that for you?

    Asking a waiter to come up with melba toast when it's not something offered by the restaurant is a little over the top
    Ordering fresh fruit as an appy is a great idea - IF the restaurant has a fruit and cheese plate on their menu (even on their dessert menu), otherwise it's very unlikely that they'll be able to accommodate.

    Many of these tips are so difficult for your typical restaurants to accommodate, it's going to lead to a very frustrating and exhausting dining experience for you, your poor server, and the kitchen staff. - 7/8/2015 1:58:48 PM
  • AREED78
    My husband loves to go out, but I'm trying to lose some weight. I want to indulge when we go out, but still try to eat what's good. Skipping the bread is probably the best advice, those empty carbs taste great, but are not good for you. I usually get a steak when we go out, which is better than some things I could order. - 3/16/2015 3:02:10 PM
  • ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Linaspark! - 2/17/2015 7:46:50 PM

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