Navigating Restaurants

By: EatingWell Editors

Don't let eating out derail your diet.

Don't let eating out derail your diet.
Americans spend more than half of their food dollars in restaurants—places where the main goal is to get you to eat more. As always, a well thought-out plan is essential.

Here are some of our top “stay-on-track” restaurant strategies.

  • You choose the restaurant. Select a place whose menu offers healthy options; call ahead to preview the menu.
  • Have a default order. Develop a mental list of fallback meals you can count on no matter what the menu. Just about any restaurant kitchen can cook up baked chicken or broiled fish with vegetables.
  • Decide what’s most important. Stick to one “extra” item: enjoy an appetizer OR dessert OR a glass of wine, not all three.
  • Plan your calories accordingly. Eat lightly at lunch before an evening meal out, or “bank” some extra calories earlier in the week.
  • Don’t arrive famished or you’ll succumb to the bread basket. Have a light protein-rich snack to take the edge off your hunger—say, a few almonds, or a piece of string cheese--just before leaving for the restaurant.