3 Step Equation to Eating Healthy at a Restaurant
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3 Step Equation to Eating Healthy at a Restaurant

One of my favorite nights of the week is date night with my husband. A night where somebody else cooks (in this case a chef) and I don't have to do the dishes... woohoo!

But I know what you're thinking,

“Isabel, how do you go out to dinner while following a healthy eating plan?  It seems so hard!”

It may seem like going out to dinner has the ability to derail your health efforts, (and, yes, with the wrong food choices it could). But, by using the following “eating out” strategies, you can enjoy a great dinner out with family and friends without interrupting your healthy eating plan.

Isabel's 3 steps to perfect restaurant eating:

  • 1. Make your dinner out your free meal for the week. Many people ask me what my theory is behind a “cheat meal." Well, first, I don’t really love the word “cheat.” Because I am a strong proponent of developing a healthy way of eating for life, I don’t perceive a meal that is a bit off my usual eating plan “cheating” on your diet (FYI – I don’t really like the word “diet” either).

    If you go out and there is something on the menu that you really, really want (taking into consideration that you may want to stay away from certain things that make you feel terrible like wheat or gluten) just go ahead and order it and let’s just let that be your “free” meal for that week. For me, that is usually a sushi/sashimi dinner of my choice with a seaweed salad and maybe some green tea ice cream for dessert. Chances are, there are ingredients used in these items that I would not eat on a regular basis, but for a once a week meal, it does not make or break my healthy eating routine.

    Remember that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to develop a way of life and an eating plan that is realistic and sustainable. Completely shutting yourself off from the outside world is neither realistic or sustainable and a little something different in your routine for the week may be good for your brain and your body.

  • salmon

  • 2. Look at the restaurant menu before you go. I do this all the time (thanks to the power of the internet). Almost every restaurant has their menu online. If it doesn’t, many of them are more than happy to talk to you on the phone and tell you what their main dishes are. When looking through a restaurant menu, I pay close attention to the seafood and chicken dishes they offer.

    If I know the red meat is grass fed, I may order that. Look for options that offer “grilled, baked, or broiled” as they are the least likely to come in a heavy sauce. When in doubt ASK, ASK and then ASK again. Many people are embarrassed to really ask the waiter the ingredients or how items are prepared, but remember, they are there to serve and cater to you, so don’t hesitate to dig deep to get the meal you want.

  • And I know this goes without saying, but please ask politely… hehehe.


  • 3.Create your own dinner. If I don’t see a meal on the menu that is “Isabel Approved” I make one up myself. I usually start off by saying to the waiter, “Would it be okay if I created my own meal from some of these delicious items?” The answer has always been yes. Never once has anyone said to me, “Lady, you’re crazy” (even if that’s what they were thinking... hahaha).

    Only once did I have a waitress in a small town in Texas say to me, “Sweetie, you don’t want the pasta? Are you sure??? You don’t know what you’re missing.” But she was sweet and just joking with me and my meal did come out perfect… broiled salmon with a side of broccoli instead of the pasta.

    Your best bet at a restaurant is to choose some seafood (preferably wild) or chicken alongside some vegetables and a salad. Since you're out and not at home, you'll probably have to make peace with the fact that your food may not be as high quality as it would be if you were home, and it may not be cooked in the best oil (which is why I tell them to keep the oil and butter very light). If you find a restaurant that offers sweet potatoes, wild rice or quinoa, those would be great additions as well.

Going out to dinner is very doable while following a healthy weight loss plan. Many Beyond Diet members (and myself) do it all the time with great success.

If you're struggling at all to make your own delicious weight loss meals each week, let me do the work for you. I would love to send you brand new meal plans and recipes every single week and take any of the guess work out for you.  Your life is busy enough and you should be focusing on all of the awesome things it has to offer (without the stress). Let me do all the planning for you, while you enjoy all the delicious meals and date nights.

»Get your exclusive meal plans, cooking videos, shopping lists (and more!) here


My go to meal, if all else fails, is a piece of grilled chicken or fish and salad where I ask for Oil and Vinegar in place of pre-made dressings.
Peggy Snead
Good suggestions. But can you help me with things to eat if you have gout. For this, red meat is definitely a no along with sweets and fried foods.
As a retiree we eat out a lot. It's hard to forgo the bread - especially Louisiana bread - but so far have been able to do it. Weight loss is not a sprint but a marathon. That's what I have to keep reminding myself.
Sandra Judy
Thanks for the tips. Keep them coming. It can be hard eating out. I do it more than I should but living alone going out to dinner is a way to be with people and have fun. Of course most social events revolve around eating!! Thankfully I love fish, chicken and veggies/fruit. I try to limit beef. I try to stay away from the bread, white potatoes and white rice only selecting the protein and veggies. It can be challenging. Thanks for all you do.