Healthy Eating Out: 9 Strategies for Controlling Your Inner Pig at the Restaurant

Healthy eating out is possible and can be really satisfying. Healthy fast food and healthy restaurants are out there. But even when you don’t get to pick where you’re eating out, you can still eat healthfully. Here’s how…

Eating out is great – no one has to cook so everyone can enjoy the meal. You know pretty much that you’re going to like the food. The waitress is there to make your dining experience whatever you want.

But eating healthfully in a restaurant requires some new habits because there is so much that can undermine our good intentions. Because restaurants are designed to get us to buy more food. The colors, the music, the lighting, what’s printed on the menu, how the server greets you… all these are tools the restaurant uses to get you to eat more. It takes cunning to escape with your good intentions intact. They want you to eat more than you want to eat.

When you go into a restaurant you’re already programmed to expect a huge meal. So what can you do about it?

The fundamental idea in eating well at a restaurant is to control what’s on your plate. Order something that fits your idea of healthy food. If you can order a healthful meal, and just eat that, there’s nothing to go wrong. Get the salad, or have two healthful appetizers instead of an entree with sides, or split a dinner with someone else.

You may feel that low calorie meals when eating out are aren’t appealing or that the healthiest dinner on the menu may just be too big. In that case, you need to reduce the amount of food on your plate.


  • Eating a healthy lunch comes from less on your plate…Do some planning and control your fate
  • The easiest approach is: when the food arrives, decide how much of it you want to eat, and move the part you’re not going to eat aside. You can be subtle; no one else at the table has to know what you’re doing. Then when you have eaten your goal amount, call the waitress and have her put the remainder in a takeaway container
  • If you find that this strategy doesn’t work for you because you end up eating the take home share too, you can advance to strategy two. That’s to call over the waitress as soon as the food arrives to bring you a takeaway container; you can put the part you don’t want to eat out of sight.
  • If that doesn’t work for you, the next strategy is to ask the waitress to put half your dinner into the takeaway container BEFORE she brings your plate to the table.


It’s harder eating a healthy lunch…When you’re sitting with the pig out bunch

What about eating in a family-style restaurant where people share food served on communal dishes – like pizza or Chinese food? What you intended to be a healthy lunch out can become a nightmare if you end up eating too much just because it’s available.

Restricting what gets to your plate is still the key.


  • It can also be really helpful to just slow down. If you slow down, other people are going to help you out by putting the food on their plates or in their stomachs.
  • If you know the group, sit next to the slowest eater.
  • Once you have your meal, be the last one to start eating and then eat at the same pace as the slowest eater. Most people tend to eat at the speed the group is eating.
  • What about all-you-can-eat places, or family style restaurants where your group always orders too much? You should avoid them if you can. But if you have no choice, you can still eat healthy. The first few times after you’ve decide to change the way you eat, you’re going to need to be especially aware of what you’re eating. You need to form a plan before you put the first thing on your plate. Take time to prepare!


Eating out – Diets sinking…Overcome with a little thinking


  • Don’t drink soft drinks with meals.
  • And if you’re drinking wine, alternate a glass of wine with a glass of water.
  • Never eat a whole dessert.
  • If you really want to taste something, arrange to share a dessert with someone and then allow them to have the lion’s share. And if you really are ordering just to taste it, there is no harm in leaving some of it on the plate; those last few bites aren’t of any benefit to you. You should choose the size of dessert you want to eat, not let the cake cutter in the kitchen decide for you.


If you are eating out and choose to order something that’s more food than you want, which of the strategies are you going to use get food off your plate? Are you going to separate out the take home portion when it arrives, or have the waitress bring you a takeout container as soon as she serves you, or are you going to have her take half of your meal off the plate before it arrives… Pfannkuchen Rezept

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