I have a notebook in Evernote with a separate note for each restaurant I visit and what the best options are for my diet plan in each. I don't write down the "best options" that I wouldn't like either - just what I'd actually order. With my smart phone, I have that custom reference to keep me on track.
When ordering salad dressing on the side at a restaurant, don’t pour it onto your salad. Instead dip your fork into the dressing before each bite of salad to get all the flavor but a fraction of the calories. You’ll be amazed how much dressing is left over at the end of the meal without feeling deprived.
Do you let yourself splurge a little when dining out on special occasions? If so, do you find the definition for "special" can vary wildly, from your 10-year anniversary to birthdays to... payday? If so, write down your definition for "Special Occasion" on a piece of paper and put it in your purse or car, then refer to that list when on your way to dinner out. If your occasion doesn't fit, don't splurge. This can keep you from splurging just because you got paid or because friends are in town.
Don't know how many calories, etc. particular dining out meals have? Try fitnesspal.com/food/search & type in the food you want to find. It will have the restaurant in paranthesis to the right of the food item. I couldn't find a particular meal on the restaurant's website & found it here (although I wish I hadn't...YIKES!)
A HUGE THANK YOU to Spark Insider for sharing the dining out guide.
Applebee's description: Our 7 oz. sirloin grilled and topped with succulent shrimp in a light cream sauce and served with herb potatoes, seasonal vegetables, fresh bruschetta, sliced almonds and chopped parsley.
My favorite fast food meal, especially in the winter months, is a Wendy's plain baked potato topped with a small chili. Total calories: 490. This may seem a little high, but the large amounts of protein and fiber will keep you feeling full for hours!
When I go out for a meal, before it is delivered to my table I always ask for a to-go box. Once the food arrives, I immediately put at least half of it in the box and set it aside. You may get strange looks at first but it will definately stop you from overeating. (Don't eat out of the box!!)
When ordering at a restaurant and you are unsure of the preparation method or coating on something, ask! If is not the way you would prefer ask if it would be possible to alter and I have yet to find an establishment that hasn't obliged.
When I go out to eat I always ask for a bread plate. When my entrée comes I transfer some of it to the bread plate and I immediately ask for a to go box for whatever remains. This helps me with my portion control and also gives me a leftover meal for lunch the next day.
When ordering your food at a restaurant, ask for a To Go container at the same time. When your food (and the container) arrives, take half and put it away immediately.
When I'm planning on going to a restaurant, I will look up nutritional information online and select my meal ahead of time whenever possible. This helps me know if I can eat the whole meal or should bring some leftovers home, as well as whether a dessert or drink splurge is okay.
I eat a cup of baby carrots 20 minutes before a meal to tell my brain that I'm already filling up. That way I'm not tempted to go back for seconds or thirds. This is a particularly good trick when going out to eat or over to the in-laws.
Collect or print the nutritional values from the eating establishments which you visit most often. Put them in a binder and keep in a handy place. You will have all the information you need to stay on track while dining out right at your fingertips.