Sometimes it can be really tricky to have a social life while losing weight and staying on track with healthy eating. Whenever I get together with friends or family, we end up going out to eat. So many of my social interactions revolve around food. While trying different restaurants and getting dressed up to go out to dinner with friends is always exciting, it can end up being really stressful when you are trying to stay on track with your diet. Since most of our social gatherings are restaurant related in our day and time, you can’t really avoid it all together.

I used to have a really hard time going to restaurants with friends because I had no idea where to begin. Should I not eat all day and then get a “normal” meal with my friends? Should I only order a side salad without any dressing? Should I eat my own meal at home and only order an iced tea at the restaurant? Going out to eat quickly went from one of my favorite events to a stressful and anxiety filled situation. I started to dread going to restaurants with friends and started avoiding birthday dinners, celebrations, and get-togethers because I just couldn’t handle it.

I realized that I was less happy not hanging out with my friends and celebrating their birthdays than going out to dinner and being stressed. I decided that it was time to figure out a realistic approach to reduce stress and anxiety when dining out. I started by checking online menus and nutrition facts online before going to the restaurant. This way I knew exactly what I would be eating and know how to ask the waiter to prepare it. I also started to become more familiar with what portion sizes looked like so that I could easily eyeball how much of my dish to eat. After I started using this approach, dining out with friends finally became fun again and I no longer had to worry about getting off track. Here are some of my tips and tricks to dining out and staying on track!

  • Check restaurant menus online and plan what you will order ahead of time.
  • Take your time and look up nutrition facts beforehand.
  • Don’t skip meals to “save calories” before dining out. If you starve yourself all day you will end up consuming way more than you planned because you are so hungry. Trust me on this one!

  • Say no to bread baskets and chips. If you know you will be too tempted, ask the waiter ahead of time to not bring it. If others dining at your table would like bread and you have no choice but to have it at the table, ask for a side salad with balsamic right away so you have something to nosh on.
  • Remember that you have been through harder things than this.
  • Remember that you are in charge of what you eat.

  • Don’t feel bad or embarrassed to make special requests, like asking for sauces on the side, steamed, no oil, etc. People have elaborate orders all day everyday.
  • Look for foods that are grilled, baked, steamed, roasted, or broiled.
  • Avoid foods that are fried, crunchy, crispy, creamy, breaded, or sautéed.
  • Split an entrée with a friend or order from the appetizer or kids menu.
  • Skip dessert or stick to a 3 bite rule. The first bite you are fully present and excited to taste it, second bite you get to take it in and enjoy it, and third bite you get to savor. After that, it’s alllll the same.
  • Pay close attention to condiments and dressings. Some of them have a lot of fat, sugar, and calories.
  • Get a half order instead of full order when available.
  • Ask for a salad, steamed veggies, or fresh fruit on the side instead of fries.
  • Always opt for water or unsweetened tea instead of soda.

  • Keep portion sizes in mind:
    1 cup= baseball
    ½ cup = yoyo
    2/3 cup= tennis ball
    ¼ cup= egg
    3oz= deck of cards
    1 Tbs = poker chip
    1 tsp = quarter
  • Pace yourself. Your meal is not going to sprout legs and run away. Eat slowly, and put your utensil down between bites.
  • Take sips of your beverage in between bites.
  • Ask for a “to go” container up front and automatically put half of it away before you start to eat.
  • Don’t associate fullness with being overly stuffed or bloated. Eat only what your body needs. Give your stomach at least 15 minutes to tell your brain it’s full.

  • Remember to enjoy the experience and eat what you want. Dining out should be a treat and shouldn’t be stressful.
  • One meal won’t make you fat, skinny, healthy, or unhealthy!

11 Comments on Dining Out Guide

  1. James
    May 31, 2012 at 10:23 am (12 years ago)

    I found your blog through Pinterest, and I’m in LOVE! I’m a month into my weight loss journey (for REAL this time…I’ve been down this road before, but I’m determined to FINISH this time), and I’m already seeing some of the anxiety you’ve spoken of. I’ve been so “good”, while still allowing for indulgences, that I’m completely terrified of falling completely off the wagon and going back to my old ways that got me where I was. In my head, I know I’m not the only one to experience these feelings/thoughts/ideas, but to actually read it in black and white in front of me is SUCH a relief! Thank you for sharing your story; I will definitely be following along! Congratulations on your weight loss and finding such a healthy lifestyle!


    • Catherine
      May 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm (12 years ago)

      James, I am so happy that you found my blog! You are definitely not alone! Everyone’s weight loss story, success, and struggles are similar yet so different! Make sure to celebrate all of your accomplishments along the way! Even if you don’t lose weight one week, celebrate that you didn’t gain! There is always something positive even on “bad” days! Remember, you’re close than you were yesterday! Health & Happiness xo

  2. alex
    June 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm (12 years ago)

    i found you through craftgawker for your DIY workout shirt. i immediately did it! (i should send you pictures 🙂 ) and then read all of your about me and FAQ pages. i know others have said this as well, but you are just so instantly likeable and amazing 🙂 even though i know a lot of these tips, i definitely needed to hear them again 🙂 a reminder always helps.

    keep being awesome! i know i’ll keep reading


    • Catherine
      June 2, 2012 at 10:44 am (12 years ago)

      Aww thank you, Alex! I love hearing how everyone finds my blog! I’m so glad the tutorial was helpful, send me a photo of your shirt on twitter or by email if you get a chance! Thank you so much for reading my blog! Health & Happiness xo

  3. Karla N
    July 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm (12 years ago)

    I just found your blog & I too, have fallen in love with it!
    I love your tips & how you’re just straight up honest with how much work its been & how you have learned to manage this lifestyle & fall in love with it!

    Sometimes I get concerned a little because I also have a very obsessive personality but the way you approach and you are real with yourself helps me ease up on myself as well. Im so used to the “all or nothing” & I stress on doing everything 100% right but I miss out on so much because I stay stressing. Thanks for your words of encouragement! & congrats on such huge achievements!

    I hope to be there soon 🙂

    • Catherine
      July 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm (12 years ago)

      Hi Kala! I completely understand. Stay positive and take everything one day at a time! Health & Happiness xo

  4. Christina
    July 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm (12 years ago)

    This is an amazing blog. I have fought the battle of weight and a healthy lifestyle all my life. I am 25 and ready with every ounce of my being to lose my last 30lbs. This will help and keep me inspired along my way. You look fantastic!

    • Catherine
      July 4, 2012 at 9:33 pm (12 years ago)

      Thank you so much Christina! I am so happy you found my blog! xo

  5. Jennifer
    July 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm (12 years ago)

    Hi, I found your blog on pinterest and LOVE IT! I have struggled with my weight for years and am finally down to a healthy weight. I still needed some help with finding the right way to eat for me and after lots of searching, the rabbit food pyramid is perfect for me. My husband loves the food too and I feel good we are starting my young kids in the right direction when it comes to health. Please know you inspire so many of us and keep the great posts coming! Thank you!

    • Catherine
      July 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm (12 years ago)

      That’s wonderful Jennifer! So happy you found my blog and are loving how you feel after eating clean ‘n’ green! xo

  6. Brandi
    December 31, 2012 at 9:32 am (11 years ago)

    Thanks for this blog, found it on my sister-in-laws pinterest. Im tired of seeing the same boring “weight loss” sites but it was meant to be for me to find yours because I LOVE bows, make my own costumes, graphic design, and I am terrified of balloons popping. So I feel this blog would be pretty interesting to follow.


Leave a Reply