Secrets to Enjoying Your Night Out Without the Guilt

I have had several people ask me what they should eat when they go out to dinner. My two questions are: What do you like to eat? How often do you eat out? Someone who eats out regularly needs to be more choosy then someone who eats out twice a month. Picking a food you don’t particularly like but think is healthy kind of negates the point of eating out.

When possible, look up the menu on line when you aren’t hungry. Make your choices then and stick to them when you get to the restaurant. Order first so you aren’t swayed by your dining companion’s order.

Skip the bread basket and start your meal with a mixed green salad with an oil & vinegar based dressing, a non-cheesy vegetable based appetizer, or a broth based soup rather than a cream based one. These will help fill you without leaving you feeling sluggish.

Choose an appetizer as your main course. They are usually large enough to serve as a meal. Want something off the the entree – eat 1/2 of the meal.  Most meals, especially pasta, are enough to feed at least two people.

I eat chicken at home pretty often, I rarely order a chicken dish when I go out to eat. If you dislike fish, don’t order it because you think you should. Order something you are going to actually enjoy eating.

Alcohol should be kept to a glass – two max. It lowers your inhibitions so you order foods you might not generally be tempted by, it adds unnecessary calories, and adds no real nutritional value. Mixed drinks tend to be calorie bombs so decide if you want a drink or some desert.  I have been known to order a chocolate martini as a dessert, especially if they have the mini versions.

Desserts are generally big enough to share. Some restaurants also offer mini versions and I like those because you get a taste of what you want without overload. A cappuccino can also be a nice treat to end a meal. Sorbet, while sugary, is low in calories when served in normal portions.

About the Author: Janine McHale is a certified holistic health counselor and the owner of The Empowered Plate. She empowers busy women and runners to reach their goals of weight loss, better nutrition, stress management and more energy via nutrition and lifestyle tweaks. Need help with preparing quick healthy meals for yourself and/or your family? Send her an e-mail at!

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