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SIM1SAYS Posts: 223
9/3/12 11:10 A

This may be silly - I kinda make it a game to see what the lowest calore item in on there that is filling.

Ordering a salad every time is really boring - I had ahi tuna yesterday and it was phenominal.

HAPPY2BEHERE2 SparkPoints: (11,667)
Fitness Minutes: (15,205)
Posts: 90
9/3/12 10:58 A

Recently found Cracker Barrel has a low carb section. Love eating there. emoticon Cracker Barrel

EXISTISTRY SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 16
9/3/12 10:07 A

Usually if I'm eating out at a restaurant it's because I've planned to meet friends or it's an event that I know about in advance. I always check for nutritional information on the website, or at least what food I'm selecting from so I can plan how it will affect my calories for the day. Then I plan an extra workout if I need to!

YVETTE59 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (6,594)
Posts: 54
9/2/12 11:36 P

On the day do your optimum exercise routine during the day, eat lightly for the rest of the day and then ENJOY! Be sure to exercise the next day and stay within your calorie range.

WILSONWR Posts: 10,115
9/2/12 11:13 P

Skip the appetizer and the dessert - that way you won't be too bad even if you do have a favorite food.

CANDOK1260 Posts: 10,685
9/2/12 10:30 P


BELASARIA SparkPoints: (34,220)
Fitness Minutes: (57,240)
Posts: 34
9/2/12 7:17 P

It's disheartening to read the comments that say, "If you eat out, you'll never lose weight." Well, my job requires me to travel and I don't always have access to a hotel room fridge or a grocery store. It's rare that I eat at a chain restaurant where the foods are easy to look up. What do I do?

A lot of great tips have already been given. "Dressing on the side and dip your fork," "Avoid the complimentary bread/chips," and "order from the appetizer/starter menu" are my top three.

Depending on the restaurant, it is quite possible to order "off menu." I've done this several times while in Boston and San Diego. Sometimes, it's because of my food intolerance to bell pepper and cucumber, but other times it's simply saying, "Could the chef put together this instead?" Most of the times, the kitchen has no problem with a non-menu item. I don't order something outrageous, but a different prep ("is it possible to have those scallops grilled, not sauteed?").

I also eat more fish when I'm dining out, since I know it can be a high-protein, low calorie option.

Do I make mistakes when I eat out? You betcha! But my mistakes aren't as egregious as they used to be. I guess practice makes perfect:)

However, to state that there's no way to lose weight while eating out? Wrong. It can be done.

MIAMI_LILLY SparkPoints: (196,535)
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Posts: 9,598
9/2/12 7:15 P

Order first, so you won't be influenced by your friends' order.

ELLIEJOSIE SparkPoints: (233,383)
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Posts: 986
9/2/12 7:15 P

I always carry my own take away container. It not only is environmentally sound, but I can dish up half of what I was served before I start eating, and I'm not tempted to over-eat any item(s).

TCHNCRFT SparkPoints: (16,252)
Fitness Minutes: (5,460)
Posts: 1,038
9/2/12 6:33 P

This is an old WW trick I learned years ago. Always ask for your dressing on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing, then spear your lettuce and veggies. That way, you're putting way less dressing on your salad but you still taste dressing with every forkful.
Works best with creamy dressings, but is doable with oil-based dressings as well.

Lots of great ideas on this thread!

LAWLI56 Posts: 1,532
9/2/12 5:32 P

Avoid fried foods and breadsticks, etc. while you wait for your meal. Share with a friend and get sauces or dressings served on the side. Stick to bottled water and pass on the dessert.

I often just have a "starter" rather than a main course.

Edited by: LAWLI56 at: 9/2/2012 (17:36)
JCEDIT89 Posts: 10,041
9/2/12 4:23 P

Take one-half to two-thirds of any entree home and eat it ANOTHER DAY. Consider every meal out at least a double portion NOT to be eaten in one day.

JUST_BREATHE08 SparkPoints: (372,695)
Fitness Minutes: (319,838)
Posts: 42,145
9/2/12 3:37 P

Portion Control

RENNER1999 SparkPoints: (54,136)
Fitness Minutes: (232)
Posts: 6
9/2/12 3:08 P

a. Eat slowly and look at menu nutritional facts before hand if possible.

b. Don't take the wait staff's offer to add extra cheese/sauce/butter, plus-size your meal, or throw in a dessert for only $1/$2 more.

c. Stay away from sugary beverages. We live in the Southeastern US, and sweet tea (regular tea w/ way too much sugar added) is the regional beverage of choice for many. I always get unsweet tea (normal brewed tea w/o sugar for those who live outside the South), and add sweet and low or Splenda.

d. Don't eat too many free breadsticks or nacho chips. Mexican/Italian restaurants are really bad in this area.

e. Avoid fried foods.

It's possible to eat healthy at a restaurant, but it takes a strong will and a good game plan.

GRIZ1GIRL SparkPoints: (197,332)
Fitness Minutes: (256,557)
Posts: 2,243
9/2/12 12:17 P

DON'T EAT OUT! If you do...expect to gain weight.

MOTHERBOARDER SparkPoints: (285,015)
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Posts: 13,637
9/2/12 10:45 A

salad dressing on the side

2NDROUND SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (3,030)
Posts: 19
9/2/12 10:40 A

Stay away from the buffet!

SH9719 SparkPoints: (40,217)
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Posts: 1,304
9/2/12 10:05 A

avoid the bread

SKABELS2 Posts: 77
9/2/12 9:48 A

Have a plan before you go, then you have something to look forward to and feel in control. I know I can usually get grilled chicken, half a baked potato, and a vegetable/salad at most restaurants, so I don't make them at home. It's a treat if I go out. Knowing what I'm going to eat before I get there gets me in the right mindset, so I can enjoy a nutritious meal with good company!

KLONG8 Posts: 189
9/2/12 1:07 A

Lots of good stuff here and I'm betting someone said this but I ask for a to go box when my meal is served & put the "extra" in the box right away. That way I eat an acceptible sized portion NOT the whole thing! And I'm not tempted to absentmindedly pick at it and then notice shoot - I ate the whole thing!

9/2/12 1:03 A

It depends on the restaurant, but for most "general" restaurants I try to order a leaner meat like grilled chicken breast, a pork chop or a small (no more than 6oz MAX) steak. For the sides I always ask for veggies, if they come sauteed or with sauce I always ask for them to be steamed and for either no sauce or for them to put the sauce on the side (and then don't eat the sauce).

For appetizers I ask for a salad and ask for oil and vinegar as dressing and then only use vinegar for dressing.

Drink is always water or unsweetened iced tea.

Portions in most restaurants are huge so you should be too full to eat dessert so I never get dessert.

MRSJSTAUFFER21 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (1,519)
Posts: 41
9/1/12 4:38 P

I'm having a hard time with this... I've been craving grease and grossness lately. I'm going to try to cook at home, but I'm just really not in the mood to cook at home all weekend.

BOBANDTY Posts: 2,912
9/1/12 12:42 P

as others have said, try to locate the nutritional info before you go and make a plan! I also tend to avoid eating out, too much sodium and money...

GRIZ1GIRL SparkPoints: (197,332)
Fitness Minutes: (256,557)
Posts: 2,243
9/1/12 11:41 A

My favorite tip? DON'T.

Don't eat out unless you HAVE cannot lose weight eating restaurant foods!

SCTK519 Posts: 2,086
9/1/12 10:58 A

Always plan ahead. It is rare that I don't know ahead of time that I'm going out to eat so I'm able to make any adjustments I need to to my diet to either allot for eating something I want that's not necessarily the best for me or to, like the OP does, look ahead at the menu and pick something.

JANELLE86 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (10,110)
Posts: 323
9/1/12 10:51 A

My husband and I will split a couple appetizers or split an app and an entree, to save money. To save calories, we'll eat something beforehand, like fruit or popcorn, then split an entree, and plan on having a small sweet treat at home later, like a piece of chocolate.

SUSANK16 Posts: 2,635
9/1/12 10:32 A

Eat a little of everything you enjoy - share a meal with a friend

ADELE66 Posts: 520
9/1/12 10:08 A

Talk a lot, eat slowly, chew your food, put your knife and fork down between bites! You'll find that by the time everyone else has finished, you've only eaten half of yours!


JUSTKLH Posts: 1,489
9/1/12 1:25 A

I definitely agree that looking up the nutritional content of the meals beforehand helps me to choose carefully and decide what is worth the calories and where I can cut back.

I also think that splitting the meal into two portions and doggy-bagging one helps for portion control.

8/31/12 11:29 P

i love to look up what i am gonna eat before i go so that way i know the calorie content and i wont be tempted..its hard to sit in burger king and smell the burgers but it is possible

JUSTBIRDY SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 9,840
8/31/12 8:34 P

tell them right away you don't want the bread basket.

AMPROSKE1 SparkPoints: (65,348)
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Posts: 946
8/31/12 7:43 P

Definitely don't eat it all- either split a plate with someone that is dining with you or take at least half of it home. Even half is a lot.
Also, just order water so you can save on calories and $$

BUBBLEJ1 Posts: 2,981
8/31/12 6:23 P

I try to eat at Asian places as much as possible. There may be a little oil used, but overall you can generally get a veggie filled stir fry, or sushi, or something. I also like tapas places where you can get a couple of small plates and make your own, smaller meal.

8/31/12 6:19 P

Usually I know a few days in advance if I'm going to be eating out. When this is the case I stick to the lower end of my calorie range and up the exercise for a few days so it all evens out over the course of the week. Then, if I end up not eating out for whatever reason I have a lovely food treat at home. I always try to do it this way round rather than burning off extra afterwards. Mentally it feels like the extra food is something I've earned rather than a "calorie debt." I also only ever do this for food that I love, never for something that's only OK. If the menu has nothing that suits me I'll just ask for a green salad instead, so I can eat something to be sociable.
I know that we don't always know when we'll be eating out, but for the times that you do I hope this is useful.

EEJAYBEE Posts: 261
8/31/12 4:01 P

Thanks for the posts, everyone! I have family visiting and they always genereously take us out for a meal or two- good to have the advice!

KAPELAKIN Posts: 1,984
8/31/12 3:44 P

I have two strategies, since sometimes I have to eat at a restaurant not of my choosing because I'm on business travel with co-workers. Option A is to go with the vegetarian dish, if it is not loaded with cheese. Often this option will be offered with extra veggies, a whole-grain bun, etc. One place we go occasionally has a Portobella mushroom burger that is pretty good, and doesn't have cheese on it. They will put asparagus on the side instead of fries as well. If it's pizza I'll stick with a veggie pizza so long as it doesn't have a cream sauce. Meat pizza toppings add an astounding number of calories and sodium.

Option B is to take a low-carb approach and just order a protein and veg. If the meal is the usual meat/veg/starch combination, ask if they can leave the pasta/rice/potato off and give you more veggies instead. It's worth paying the extra $1 or 2 if they charge for it.

Stay away from the chip or bread basket if you can.

Try to order the simpler dishes that don't incorporate a lot of sauce or other toppings, since those can add lots of fat, sodium, and even sugar (BBQ sauce for example, is loaded with sugar).

Edited by: KAPELAKIN at: 8/31/2012 (15:46)
BLBST36 Posts: 351
8/31/12 3:41 P

I ALWAYS look at the menu before hand and pick a couple options that can fit into that day. I have always asked for dressing on the side - even before getting serious with weight loss. They tend to drown the salad if you don't.

I make sure to know the damage if I eat the whole entree because I am not a fan of getting a to go box at the beginning of the meal. I feel it puts an unpleasant feeling on the meal - like you are already ready to go. I also don't think bringing your own dressing is a good idea. It seems like bad manners to me. I work with what the restaurant has. If I can't find something healthy to put on my salad, I will get something else

If I am done, but feel myself wanting to pick, I will put my napkin over it or push it to the side so the wait staff takes it away.

I have always asked exactly for what I want - on the level of Sally from When Harry Met Sally, so that has never been a problem for me.

Number one is to not stress about it so much that it will ruin the enjoyment of the meal. I rarely go out to eat, so this is very important to me.

ANDREAG89 SparkPoints: (27,515)
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Posts: 552
8/31/12 3:12 P

I agree with NOMOREGODDESS. I've done this several times and it helps.

If you don't have time, I suggest when eating out that you ask the waiter to have the cook put half of whatever you have ordered in a box BEFORE it gets to your table. Having it off your plate keeps you from eating too much - and if you're in the USA, you know your plates are usually WAY MORE than 1 serving and it's easy to eat whatever is in front you, no matter the amount!

Oh, and if going to a Mexican restaurant, ask for no nachos to be brought to your table, if possible. Or ask them not to bring the buttery rolls, etc...

8/31/12 2:57 P

I like to decide where i am going before I leave the house & look up their menus & nutritional information on their website. Then I add what I have picked to my SP tracker. That way I don't have any unhappy surprises later. If I don't have time for all that I stick to some old standby's that I know I like & I know that they are already added to my SP favorites. Also many restaurants have healthy menu selections. So when in doubt I stick with them. Hope it helps. emoticon

GETULLY SparkPoints: (141,881)
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Posts: 7,507
8/31/12 2:56 P

My husband has started to agreeing more to split dishes; we order two small salads, split an entree and then decide to split a dessert. That is a splurge. Most of the time there is no dessert.

VTRICIA Posts: 2,484
8/31/12 2:05 P

I think eating half the meal is the way to go. Though my husband really likes to go to Sizzler, so I do two plates of salad and one little bowl of ice cream. I actually have my Sizzler salad written up in a grouping in my food tracker. It's important to say no when they offer another breadbasket.

FTSOLK Posts: 1,395
8/31/12 1:56 P

My favorite tip is to look up my best options LONG before I eat out. I tend to think FAR in advance, that way I'm prepared for last minute situations.

But if all else fails: Lean protein and veggies for a meal; fruit or something light for dessert. Water or unsweetened tea to drink. If you want to indulge, share it with a friend or two.

CORTNEY-LEE SparkPoints: (67,852)
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Posts: 3,526
8/31/12 1:52 P

I have complied a list of every restaurant we go to, and then added specific menu choices, so I am never caught off guard no matter where we go.

It has taken me a lot of time and research, but I feel confident no matter where we go, I am set.

ANNE007 Posts: 153
8/31/12 1:50 P

Great suggestions! I also like to look at the menu before I get there, so I can plan in advance. I also frequent places that have delicious dishes I know I can have, and I let them know that's why I am there. Places like Cheesecake Factory, who notoriously won't give out nutrition information, aren't on my list when it comes to choosing where we'll go. Another situation where voting with your wallet is important!

7LORENA7 Posts: 19
8/31/12 1:41 P

EMERALDWARE I think the easiest is to order water to drink; you can save yourself a lot of calories and apply it to your food :) Also ask for condiment on the side so that you can decide if you really want them or if you just want a bit. Lastly I agree with what another Sparker advised--talk to the staff. Most often they are willing to help and answer your questions. Ask them if they have a healthier menu or what their healthiest meals are. And of course you could always customize your food. GOOD LUCK :D

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
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Posts: 2,171
8/31/12 1:02 P

BF and I go to a particular bar every week or two. Nothing on their menu is all that great in terms of healthy eating, it's bar food, so, I order off their kids menu so at least the portion is small, usually either a grilled cheese sandwich or chicken tenders and fries. It's still plenty of food, plus it's cheaper!

But, to be honest, if I'm going to a nicer restaurant, I order what I want and just don't think of the nutrition value... I don't eat at chains too often so that info isn't available anyway. I try to eat light in the earlier part of the day, and will eat light and low sodium the next day as well. Having treats like that now and then make it easier to get through the regular drudgery of every day eating :)

MELANJ3 SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 11
8/31/12 12:55 P

Order off the children's menu or an appetizer. Everything in moderation!

LDAVIS648 Posts: 353
8/31/12 12:53 P

when we go out to a fast food restaurant ill have a grilled chicken and fruit salad with less than half dressing and unsweetened ice tea

MISALINDA SparkPoints: (22,236)
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Posts: 331
8/31/12 12:52 P

I also try to always decide before I leave the house, that's not strange it's genius. But here are some more tips~

Communicate with your server. If you want no salt used, say so, no oil, say so, no butter, say so. If you want to know if the cut of steak they have is fatty, ask, want your dressing on the side, tell them. Don't feel like you have to have a beverage because you might look cheap, if you avoid artificial sweeteners or caffeine or what ever, have a glass of water, maybe a lemon wedge with it. Whatever your concern, communicate that to the server.

Most restaurants serve huge portions. Ask for a box with your food and put half in right away. Now you have lunch for tomorrow and are not tempted to eat food because it's on your plate. Or split an entree with someone. My husband and I do that. Or get an appetizers as your entree.

Salads can be tricky. They start out so healthy and innocent, and then they get covered in ooey-gooey oh so good dressings and sauces, fried chicken strips, nuts, dried fruit (good for you in moderation, but the sugar adds up quickly if too much is used), candied nuts, cheese, and on and on and on. Now your once innocent salad is over 1,000 calories, and not really healthy.

Really pay attention to the descriptions and ask to not have things that may not be what you really want, substitute or skip it. Always communicate what you do and do not want to your server. :-)

EMERALDWARE SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 134
8/31/12 11:50 A

What is your favorite tip/trick for those times when you find yourself eating out at a restaurant or fast food?

Although I don't eat out often, I ALWAYS read nutritional information and choose what I will eat ahead of time. My husband thinks I'm odd for doing this, rather than showing up and just winging it. However, I think it makes a huge difference in keeping me on-track.

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