How To Eat Healthily At A Café Or Restaurant

Here at this blog, we always advocate cooking as much as possible, so that you know exactly what is going into your food. While this may be the case, there will always be times when you need to eat out for social occasions. Hardcore dieters might cringe at this, for it disrupts their “diet”. But really, if you think about it, it’s really no big deal.

This topic is something people constantly ask me about. In fact, it got asked about so much that I even dedicated a whole section to it in my book the Strategic Nutrition Guide. And I understand where it comes from – I used to be a bit pedantic that way too! In today’s blog post, I will share some tips with you when dining out.

The first assumption that we always make is that eating at restaurants not good for a healthy diet. In many cases, you would be right on the money. However, you can still enjoy restaurants occasionally and maintain your healthy diet. It’s all about making good food choices, which starts with learning about the nutrition you need to be physically healthy.


Let’s start with the appetisers. Most of us don’t really need this. Think about it – your usual meals at home would comprise of a main dish, or components of a main dish, followed by possibly a dessert at times and a drink. If you are eating outside, you are not only contending with the calories of those staples, but an additional dish too! This is essentially what an appetiser is.

Not convinced yet? Truth be told, the appetisers at restaurants are usually high-fat foods that are not meant to fill you up. In fact, it can be the opposite and make you crave even more high fat foods. Instead, simply focus on your main course or, if you must indulge, share a single serving with the entire table of people. I do understand if it’s hard, because sometimes the bread and butter is just in front of you, eeks!

When choosing your main dish, it is of course important that you look at the ingredients of the dish. Anything with cream sauces or high-fat meats should be avoided, and don’t order extra deep fried potatoes or onion rings. Instead, focus on having a good nutritious main dish. This is where cooking style matters – try to pick styles that involve less oil.


Another way to have portion control and still enjoy variety is to go halves with someone else who is willing to eat as little as you are. And if the meal is communal rather than individual, try to talk more. I personally notice that I eat much more slowly when I am chattering about. Of course, don’t be obnoxious when you talk.

What about dessert then? If possible, skip it. Just like the appetiser, these will introduce calories that make you go over quota. So skip it, unless that place is well renowned for one of their desserts. You may also compromise by going halves with someone else. Just be aware that many fancy desserts are restaurants have more calories than your entire meal.

If possible, control your orders on the drinks section. Although you may be tempted to enjoy a beer or even a soft drink with your dinner, these usually comprise of “empty calories”, which refer to calories that are not pegged with nutritional value. And of course, excess calorie intake can be stored as fat. If you must, go for ONE glass of red wine, which can be good for the heart.

There is also another way – which is to make your café or restaurant meal your allocated cheat meal. The jury is out on cheat meals, but in my opinion, having it very occasionally will not derail one’s weight loss plans. Learning how to eat healthily at restaurants is an art in itself, and the first step to mastering it involves learning about nutrition in general. Why don’t you get the Strategic Nutrition Guide and make a start that way?


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