Choose Wisely: Tips for Picking Low-Calorie Menu Items at Restaurants

Eating out at a restaurant can be a challenge for anyone who is trying to lose weight. With tempting dishes and indulgent desserts on the menu, it can be difficult to stick to a healthy eating plan. However, dining out can still be an enjoyable experience without sacrificing your weight loss goals. By choosing low-calorie menu items, you can still indulge in delicious food while staying on track. Here are some tips for picking low-calorie menu items at restaurants.

Do Your Research

Before you go out to eat, it is a good idea to look up the restaurant’s menu online. Many restaurants now post their menus on their website, which gives you the opportunity to review the options and find the healthiest choices. Look for items that are grilled, roasted, or steamed, rather than fried or breaded. Also, pay attention to the portion sizes listed on the menu, and try to stick to small or medium-sized portions.

Watch Out for Hidden Calories

Some menu items may seem like a healthy choice but actually have hidden calories. For example, salads can be loaded with high-calorie toppings such as croutons, bacon, and creamy dressings. Ask for the dressing on the side so that you can control the amount you use. Also, be wary of dishes that are described as “crispy” or “creamy” as they often come with a lot of added fat and calories.

Opt for Lean Proteins and Vegetables

When choosing your main course, opt for lean proteins such as chicken, fish or tofu, and load up on vegetables. Vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber and other nutrients, which will help you feel full and satisfied. Ask for any sauces or dressings on the side so that you can control the amount you use.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Special Requests

Don’t be shy about asking your server to make modifications to your meal to make it healthier. For example, ask for grilled chicken instead of fried, or for your sauce to be served on the side. You can also ask for a veggie side instead of a starchy side like fries or mashed potatoes.

Stick to Water

Beverages can be a hidden source of calories and sugar. Stick to water instead of ordering sugary sodas or alcoholic beverages, which can quickly add up in calories. If you want something with more flavor, try herbal tea or add a splash of lemon or lime to your water.

By following these dining out strategies for picking low-calorie menu items at restaurants, you can still enjoy eating out while maintaining a healthy diet. So next time you dine out, choose wisely and enjoy your meal guilt-free.

Dining Out Strategies: Portion Control Tips to Avoid Overeating

Eating out can be a challenge when you’re trying to watch your calorie intake. Restaurants often serve large portions, which can lead to overeating and weight gain. However, with a few dining out strategies, you can enjoy your meals while still maintaining a healthy diet.

1. Read the Menu Carefully

Before ordering, take the time to read the menu carefully. Look for menu items that are labeled as “small” or “appetizer” portions. These dishes contain fewer calories and are often filling enough to satisfy your hunger. If there are no small plates available, consider splitting an entree with a friend or taking half of it home.

2. Ask About Ingredients and Preparation

It can be challenging to know exactly what goes into your meals when eating out. However, you can always ask your server about the ingredients and the preparation techniques used in the dishes. Try to opt for healthy cooking methods such as grilling, steaming, or roasting. Avoid dishes that are fried, breaded, or loaded with cheese and cream-based sauces.

3. Control Your Portions

When your meal arrives, it’s crucial to control your portions. Use a smaller plate to trick your brain into believing that you’re eating more food than you actually are. You can also divide your plate into three sections, filling half of it with vegetables, one quarter with protein, and the other quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables like potatoes. Eat slowly, and take the time to savor your food. This will allow your brain to register that you’re full and prevent overeating.

4. Drink Water Instead of Sugary Beverages

Sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, and flavored waters can add a significant number of calories to your meal. Instead, opt for water or unsweetened iced tea. These drinks will keep you hydrated and reduce the number of calories from your meal.

5. Be Mindful of Desserts

Desserts are often high in calories and sugar, which can lead to weight gain. If you’re craving something sweet, try splitting a dessert with a friend or ordering a small portion of a light dessert like sorbet or fresh fruit.

In conclusion, dining out strategies for portion control can help you maintain a healthy diet while enjoying meals with family and friends. By reading the menu carefully, asking about ingredients and preparation, controlling your portions, drinking water instead of sugary beverages, and being mindful of desserts, you can avoid overeating and keep your weight in check.

Dining Out Strategies: How to Make Nutritious Substitutions When Eating Out

Eating out doesn’t have to ruin your healthy eating habits. Making simple substitutions can go a long way in keeping you on track. Here are some tips for making nutritious substitutions when dining out.

Choose Grilled or Roasted Meat Over Fried Options

Fried foods are high in calories, saturated fats, and often contain harmful trans fats. When dining out, try to choose grilled or roasted meats instead of fried options. Grilled or roasted chicken, fish, or lean meats are great alternatives that are lower in calories and fat.

Opt for Whole Grains

When ordering side dishes or bread, look for options made with whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain bread, or whole-grain pasta. Whole grains are rich in fiber and other nutrients compared to their refined counterparts.

Choose Low-Fat Dairy Products

Most restaurants have cheese options in many dishes. However, opting for low-fat cheese or other dairy products can help in reducing calories and saturated fats. Consider requesting low-fat cheese or skipping it altogether when dining out.

Pick Vegetable-Based Sides and Starters

Choosing vegetable-based sides and appetizers instead of heavy, fried, or cream-based options can make a huge difference in your calorie intake. Salads and vegetable-based soups that are not high in calories are recommended choices.

Be Mindful of Sauces and Dressings

Sauces and dressings can pack a ton of calories and fat into a meal. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side so you can control the amount you consume. Also, choose vinaigrettes made with olive oil instead of creamy dressings when possible.

By making simple substitutions such as choosing grilled meats, opting for whole grains, and being mindful of sauces and dressings, you can stick to a healthy eating plan when dining out. Little changes can lead to big results. So, the next time you’re eating out, try incorporating these nutritious substitutions into your meal to stay on track with your health goals.

Dining Out Strategies: Strategic Sides


When dining out, it can be difficult to make healthy choices. The temptation to indulge in calorie-laden appetizers, entrees, and desserts is often overwhelming. But side dishes can be just as damaging to your waistline if you make the wrong choices. In this article, we will discuss some dietary tips for making smart choices with side dishes when dining out.

Choose Wisely:

One of the most important tips for making smart choices with side dishes is to choose wisely. Many restaurants offer a choice of sides such as fries, onion rings, or mac and cheese. Instead of these high-calorie options, opt for vegetables such as steamed broccoli, roasted carrots, or a side salad with dressing on the side. In addition, choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potato fries for a healthy alternative to white rice or regular French fries.

Portion Control:

Another important tip for making smart choices with side dishes is to practice portion control. Often, restaurants serve up sizes that are far too large, which can lead to overeating and weight gain. To combat this, consider sharing a side dish with a friend or family member or ask the server to bring just half of the regular portion of your chosen side dish.

Healthy Alternatives:

If you are looking for ways to make your side dishes healthier, there are many options available. Choose grilled, baked, or steamed options rather than fried. You can also ask for substitutions such as swapping regular mashed potatoes for sweet potato mash or requesting your vegetables to be cooked without butter or oil.

Beverage Choices Matter:

Finally, do not forget to consider your beverage choices when it comes to side dishes. Choosing water, unsweetened tea, or a diet soda can help you cut down on unnecessary calories and added sugar. Fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, and sodas can contain a surprising amount of calories and sugar.


In conclusion, making smart choices with side dishes when dining out can help you stay on track with your weight loss goals. By choosing wisely, practicing portion control, opting for healthy alternatives, and considering your beverage choices, you can enjoy your meal without worrying about the negative impact on your health. Remember, making small changes can lead to big results.

Beverage Choices Matter: How to Cut Calories When Ordering Drinks at Restaurants

Going out to eat can be a great way to socialize with friends or celebrate special occasions. However, it can be difficult to make healthy choices when faced with tempting menu options and oversized portions. One area where many people tend to overlook is the calorie content in their drinks. Here are some tips for making smart beverage choices when dining out.

Choose Water

Let’s face it: sugary beverages, including soda, sweet tea, and lemonade, are tempting and refreshing, but they’re often high in calories and sugar. Instead, opt for water, which has zero calories and can help fill you up. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, ask for a slice of lemon or lime to add flavor to your drink. Additionally, you can order unsweetened iced tea or coffee, or herbal tea.

Watch for Hidden Calories

Even seemingly healthy drinks can be loaded with calories and sugar, so it’s important to be mindful of what you’re drinking. For example, many smoothies or fruity drinks offered at restaurants may have added syrups or sugars that increase the calorie content. Some alcoholic beverages are also high in calories and sugar. Instead, opt for a light beer or a glass of wine, and skip the sugary cocktails.

Beware of the Refills

Many restaurants offer free refills on soft drinks and other sugary beverages, making it tempting to drink more than you need. To avoid this, simply stick with water or other low-calorie drinks that don’t offer free refills.

Control the Size

Portion sizes for drinks, especially beverages like soda or sweet tea, can be enormous at restaurants. If you’re going to indulge in a sugary drink, opt for a smaller size or share your drink with a friend. Consider drinking from a straw, which can help you drink more slowly, and make a small drink last longer.

By following these tips and making smart choices when it comes to ordering beverages, you can minimize the amount of calories you consume when dining out. Whether you’re out to eat with friends or celebrating a special occasion, remember that beverage choices matter and can have a big impact on your overall calorie intake.

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