The IronPlate Guide to Eating Out


Eating out at restaurants with your friends or family is one of life’s pleasures, and it can also be a crucial part of your professional life. You shouldn’t have to give up or avoid eating out because of your new healthy lifestyle. You can still enjoy dining out, while being mindful of what you eat if you follow these simple tips.

Before the meal:

  • Take a look at the menu online ahead of time.

    • This will give you time to sort through the menu free of distractions or outside pressure.

    • Ask your trainer to take a look with you to come up with some healthy options together.

  • Look for keywords* that can help you make the best decisions on your meal.

  • Don't skip meals the day of to save calories.

    • Doing so will most likely cause you to overeat later. If you eat as you normally would throughout the day, you won't be thinking with your stomach and you'll be able to make better choices.

  • Have a large glass of water before your meal. (as soon as you get there or before you arrive)

    • The water will make you feel good and slightly full, helping you to make better choices.

At the Restaurant:

This is the important part. Stay STRONG! Choose carefully. You can have a meal that is both delicious and healthy!

  • Don't fill up on the free appetizers (tortilla chips, bread, etc). This is where not coming to the restaurant starving will come in.

  • Do fill up on salads and vegetables.

  • Do ask for dressing on the side.

    • Choose an oil-based dressings. (Italian, Balsamic, etc.)

    • steer clear or the creamier dressings. ( Ranch, Creamy Caesar, etc)

  • Do: Broth-based soups.

    • especially those with vegetables or beans which contain healthy nutrients. (watch out for cream based soups)

  • Do: Customize your order.

    • Meals do not need to be exactly as they appear on the menu.

    • Ask for double veggies instead of starchy side.

    • Ask or look for Grilled instead of fried, Lettuce wrap instead of a bun or bread, etc.

  • Don't feel the need to clear your plate.

    • Most restaurants offer much larger portions than needed.

    • ask for a to go box with your meal and immediately put half of it in the box. (out of sight, out of mind!)

    • share a meal with a friend.

  • Skip the alcohol.

    • Alcohol is an easy way to pack on the calories without even realizing it.

    • If you must consume alcohol, choose lower calorie options such as spritzer or drinks mixed with Seltzer water.

    • Drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. This will both slow your consumption of alcohol down and keep you hydrated.

  • Dessert: The best option is always to skip the desert menu, but it you must indulge:

    • Look for a sorbet, fruit cup, skim cappuccino, herbal tea.

    • Split with friends so you get a few tastes, but not the whole thing.  (Many times dessert portions are also larger than recommended.)

After the meal:

  • Don’t go straight to bed when you get home. Give your body a time to digest the food you have eaten. It doesn’t digest well when you are asleep and you may feel even more hungry in the morning as a result.

  • Do enjoy a brisk walk to burn off a few of those calories you’ve just consumed and some fresh air to refresh your mind.  


*If you find yourself grabbing a spontaneous bite to eat, don’t panic and don’t use it as an excuse to blow off all of your hard work.  Take a look at the key words below. Preparing yourself with these key words and the tips above, will help you navigate the menu to make the best possible choices available to you.