Restaurants used to be a place to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. But now, dining out is a regular activity for many—and we can’t afford to treat every meal as if it’s a special, diet-free occasion. Follow these expert tips from Shawna Durbin, a registered dietitian at Bingham Memorial Hospital, to navigate your next meal out.
Practice Calorie Counting
Dining at a local restaurant where nutritional information isn’t available doesn’t equal a free pass. For an estimate, review menus in advance, comparing entrees with their national counterparts.
And learn how to spot a serving size. “Nobody wants to do this because we find out the portion is generally a lot smaller than what our eyes think it should be,” says Shawna.
Enlist your server in a quest to make healthy choices. Ask how the dish is prepared, which vegetable comes as a side dish and whether you can order sauce and dressing on the side.
“Many restaurants will take your dietary needs into consideration so you’ll be happy and return. Don’t hesitate to ask for anything on the menu to be prepared in a more diet-friendly way,” says Shawna.
That small plate served with the bread or tortilla chips? Eat from that, not from the basket. And remember your priorities: You didn’t go out to eat to fill up on bread, right? “I’d rather use my calories and carbohydrates for foods I really love,” Shawna says.