Dining in a restaurant is a great way to socialize and catch up with friends. Whether you go out to eat once a month or once a week, it is possible to eat healthy and make good choices. Follow these quick tips and tricks to eating guilt-free while out to eat!

• Do not skip meals throughout the day in attempt to “save up” your calories. This will likely cause you to over-eat.
• Drink a few glasses of water before your meal.
• Opt out of the complimentary bread basket. It may be free, but the less temptation the better!
• Choose grilled over fried.
• You could try ordering from the kid’s menu— these meals will be smaller portions.
• Eat the veggies first. If you fill up on the healthy stuff, you will eat less of the more calorie-dense food.
• Ask for a to-go box upon receiving your food and take the extra food out to the car immediately. Out of sight out of mind!
• Split your meal with someone.
• Choose whole-wheat over white.
• Ask for no butter or oil.
• BYOD (Bring Your Own Dressing). I like to bring my Walden Farms dressing— it’s calorie free! You can also bring your favorite lower calorie dressing and condiments.
• A rule of thumb for meat portions— the size of the palm of your hand will generally be a sufficient amount of protein. Anything more than that, put in your to-go box.
• If you usually drink something sweet during your meal, you could bring your own MIO or Crystal Light packet to sweeten your water. Another option would be to order unsweetened tea and add Splenda or stevia that you brought.
• If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage, try drinks such as:
Cherry or vanilla vodka and diet coke
Vodka and soda water with a squirt of MIO
Glass of red wine (though it is high in antioxidants, it isn’t very low-calorie— so be sure to limit yourself to one glass).
• Skip the condiments and high-calorie toppings— you can do without mayo, sour cream, guacamole and cheese. Stick with salsa, hot sauce, vinegar and plenty of veggies.
• Bring a stick of gum for after your meal— this will greatly reduce any additional cravings you may have and the minty taste will leave you feeling satisfied.
• Pass on the dessert menu!

Just because you are following a diet plan, it doesn’t mean you have to stay at home with your plate of chicken and broccoli. Remember these tips and enjoy a fun and healthy night out!