Eat Better When Eating Out

by Abby Read, MS, RDN, LD
Program Coordinator and Wellness Coach
Methodist Health System

With summer winding down and cooler weather ahead, you may be looking forward to dining outside at your favorite restaurant patio. But as fun as it can be to give yourself a break from cooking at home, you need to be prepared not only to take safety measures during the pandemic but also to make sure you don’t fall off track with your weight loss plan or healthy routine. Not to worry. If you’re mindful, dining out can be just as enjoyable without packing on the extra calories and the guilt that comes with them.

Five ways to do right when dining out

  1. Know how it’s cooked. Look for your favorite protein and then take note of how it’s prepared. Stick with options that are grilled, baked, seared, or boiled. Avoid items that are deep-fried, breaded, blackened, or crusted.
  2. Use sauces sparingly. Ask for sauces, dressings, cream, and condiments on the side so you’ll have better control over the amount you consume. Sauces and dressings pile on lots of added sugar, fat, salt, and calories to your meal. So use them only for dipping, or add a small amount for extra flavor.
  3. Split your entrée. Restaurant portions tend to triple or quadruple the recommended portion size for a meal. See if a friend or family member will split the entrée with you. That will help lower the calories and keep you from feeling over-stuffed.
  4. Drinks have calories, too. We often forget that drinks add a lot of calories to our meal because they don’t fill us up like food does. If you’re going to indulge in a higher calorie drink like a soda, shake, sugary coffee, or cocktail, remember to balance that out with a lighter meal. And make sure you always have water at your meal, which will help with hydration and fullness.
  5. Sides? Make them veggies. Whenever possible, add vegetables to your meal, especially the dark green variety. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help keep you fuller throughout the day.

Make the right choices at restaurants, and you won’t leave feeling guilty — or bloated. That’s the way to dine out with dignity!

If you’re looking for an organization that is committed to having the healthiest employees in healthcare, take a look at Methodist Health System. Visit us at

© Methodist Health System