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How to Dine Out on Less Calories

Eating out on a diet needn't be a disaster! Dietitian Juliette Kellow gives her tips for lower calorie dining out

Eat Out on Fewer Calories

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

How to Survive Without Blowing Your Diet and Still Enjoy the Occasion!

So you're going out to eat and instead of being happy and looking forward to this treat you are filled with panic and angst - all those calories will throw all your good work out of the window. It doesn't have to be like this. You are in control and this is a treat you can enjoy! After all, this doesn't happen 90% of the time. You can eat and drink what you want. Here are a few guidelines to steer you in the right direction… 

Chinese   Indian   Greek    Italian   Fish n Chips

Eat What You Would Normally Eat Throughout the Day

Do not go without meals to make up for the evening out. Starving yourself will cause you to binge and overeat. You can make allowances over the week saving calories each day. Increase your exercise; remember any form of physical exercise counts.

Have A Light Snack Before Your Go Out

Having a light snack, such as toast, a banana or a low calorie yoghurt before you go out will take the edge off hunger and stop you gorging the minute you enter the restaurant.

Order a Low-Calorie Aperitif — Save the Alcohol for Later

Remember, alcoholic drinks are high in calories. Quench your thirst with water or low calorie diet drinks, not alcohol. Try making your wine a spritzer (a longer drink with lemonade), and look out for low-calorie mixers.

Be the First to Order on the Table

This will stop you being swayed by others' choices. If you know which restaurant you are going to, ask for a copy of the menu in advance – this will help you think ahead about your choice of dishes. 

Starters, General

  • Choose a clear soup - avoid the thick and creamy options. You can eat the bread but leave out the butter!
  • Seafood, melon and grapefruit are good choices
  • Try to avoid rich dressings
  • A low-calorie starter will show you you are in control

Main Meals, General

  • Choose small cuts of lean read meat
  • Chicken (grilled) and fish (grilled, poached, steamed) dishes are good choices
  • Dishes which are fried, coated in breadcrumbs or pastry dishes should be avoided
  • Order a jacket potato instead of chips
  • Order extra salads and vegetables
  • You can ask for dressings to be served separately

Desserts, General

  • Leave a little time for your food to digest before you order a dessert. Give your stomach time to send signals to your brain you are full (it takes about 20 minutes)
  • Try a sorbet, a yoghurt dish, fruits or melon


  • There is no need for seconds
  • If there are a lot of courses, you can skip one
  • Try to leave some food on your plate; you will eat less. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to eat it!
  • Eat slowly and enjoy the conversation. Put your knife and fork down - allow your body time to digest.

This is a happy occasion and you can enjoy it!

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