Eating Out Made Easy

Eating Out Made Easy

My daughter, Perrie, and me in the kitchen

Eating out and other social settings centered around food can certainly present some challenges when you’re on a weight loss program. Some people handle these situations by avoiding them altogether only to soon feel anti-social, isolated or left out. Having weight loss goals does not mean you have to stop living!

My goal is to show you how to stay on track – how to stay in control – even when someone else is preparing your food. As an independent eater, I want you to feel empowered to not let restaurants and other social-eating events derail your progress in making balanced nutrition a commitment for life. Remember, there’s a world of healthy choices out there, and you’re the boss of what you put into your body.

To prevent that uncomfortable and slightly agitated feeling I have when I’m hungry, I’ll make sure I’m hydrated by drinking water or green tea. And, I also like to mix PGX in my water to create that feeling of fullness so I can enjoy my meal without overeating.

My go-to meal: salmon with asparagus and side salad

1. If a menu doesn’t specifically say how the food is being prepared, ask questions. While it may never occur to you at home to cook something swimming in butter, cream or oil, that may be just how the salmon of the day is prepared.

2. Request a more healthy method of preparation; steaming, poaching in broth or stir-frying are good alternatives to breading or deep-frying.

3. Get the bread off the table! Nibbling on bread can really derail your good intentions. Ask if fresh veggie sticks are available, and drink some water, or ask for a small dinner salad while you’re waiting.

4. As a rule of thumb, get sauces and dressings on the side. This way you can control the amount and most likely, you’ll find you need far less for the food to be “dressed” than they generously give you.

5. Think about this: The same amount of pasta is served to a 120-pound woman as to a 250-pound man. So, while big portions may give you more for your money, don’t let a restaurant dictate the portion you intake for fuel and energy. They don’t know your body’s needs. Ask for a “To Go” container when your food arrives. Immediately store the excess food, and put that box away. Leaving a giant portion of food on your plate can lead to overeating before you even realize it.

6. Don’t be afraid to change up the menu. Ask for a hearty helping of veggies in place of white rice or buttery mashed potatoes. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate your dietary needs. On those rare occasions when you’re not, you might try something my girlfriend does, and tell the waiter you’re allergic to the food item you don’t want!

7. Slow down! Take time to put your fork and knife down between bites to sip some water, and enjoy the entire experience of your meal. This allows you to pay closer attention to how your food makes you feel. Are you getting more energized with each bite or are you growing more tired and sluggish? Also, when you’re eating at a slower pace, you can register when you’re satisfied. It will help you avoid getting overstuffed.

Kathy Smith's Healthy Quick-Fix Egg Scramble
Quick-Fix Egg Scramble

Ethnic foods by nature are richer in starchy carbohydrate sources: pasta and bread at Italian restaurants; beans, rice and tortillas at Mexican restaurants; rice and noodles at Japanese, Chinese and Thai restaurants; and a variety of breads, crackers, and potatoes at the local cafe or deli. you may need to make a special effort to seek out adequate protein sources. Here are a few things to consider when eating at your favorite ethnic restaurants:


Good sources of protein:
– Meatballs
– Fish, chicken and beef entrees with pasta as a side dish
– Cioppino (Italian fish stew)

Be mindful of:
– Dipping bread in flavored oils
– Cream-based pasta sauces
– Fatty meats such as sausage and pepperoni
– Fried foods such as calamari

Chinese, Japanese and Thai

Good sources of protein:
– Braised tofu dishes
– Chicken, seafood and meat dishes with vegetables instead of rice and noodles
– Edamame
– Sashimi
– Chicken, beef, fish satay with peanut sauce

Be mindful of:
– Too much rice or noodles
– Fried foods such as egg rolls, tempura and vegetables
– Fatty meats such as duck


Good sources of protein:
– Fajitas
– Tostadas
– All meat (beef, chicken, egg) burritos
– Chili verde or chili colorado
– Carne asada
– Albondigas soup

Be mindful of:
– Fried tortilla chips
– Fried foods like Flautas and Tacquitos
– Too much cheese and sour cream toppings

Remember to track your food on social media with the hashtag #ReShape — I’ll be watching!

Here’s to your health!