9 Healthy Ideas When Eating Out

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patron_mexican_grill Ever since I met Dario, one of our all time favorite things to do together is going out to eat.  Ha, could you guess that one??  We both love trying out new places and exploring all the different areas of DC and northern VA.  Were lucky that this area is filled with so many different cultures and ethnicities – Indian, Ethiopian, Lebanese, Iranian, Afghani, Italian, Korean, Greek, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, American, Irish…ok you get the point, we got everything.  This area is truly  a food lovers dream!

Dario and I got out to dinner usually once or twice a week.  It’s kinda a lot now that I’m writing it out.  But it’s just something we really look forward to.  Especially after a long week – winding down to a glass of wine at a local restaurant is just what we need.  And now that it’s warmer outside, dining outside is amazing.  Plus, most of the restaurants in this area are dog friendly so our fat chub dog comes along too!
Tandoori-Platter-adjust-960x581 Of course, all this eating out has a pretty huge potential to add a few pounds here and there (aka my butt and thighs).  But I refuse to miss out on a good restaurant just because I’m trying to stay slim and trim!  No sir!  Our Friday date nights are a must!  So to curb any…widening of my behind…I try to stick to a few tips that help me enjoy a great meal out but keep any extra weight at bay.  Here’s what I do:

  1. Look at the menu before you go.  I love checking out all the dishes AND I can figure out what are the more healthy options before I go – get a game plan in mind.  It helps me be more prepared when I order.
  2. Consideration the cuisine.  No matter what region of the world, it probably has one or two super unhealthy dishes.  Think alfredo sauce, cheese smothered burritos, cream and butter filled curries and good old American french fries.  Try to choose healthier dishes – ones without cream sauces, lots of butter and oil, excess cheese or salt.  Hint:  any dish described as “creamy” or “smothered” are generally NOT healthy options.
  3. Get a to-go box.  This is hard for me.  I always want to finish my meal, even if it’s too much.  But I tell myself that I can have this great meal TWICE if I bring it home.  That way, I get excited about saving some for the next day.
  4. Split dishes!  Dario and I love ordering appetizers and desserts (well mostly I want dessert).  But it shaves off a bunch of calories if you split appetizers and desserts.  You still get to taste multiple dishes, just with half the calories.
  5. Order an appetizer and split an entrée.  Dario and I do this one frequently – especially at our favorite pizza place in Old Town.  We each order an appetizer salad and split a small individual pizza (4 slices).  It’s just the right amount and I can feel free to enjoy any type of pizza I’m in the mood for!
  6. Go for whole grain.  Many restaurants now offer whole wheat version of pizza crusts, sandwich breads, brown rice and whole wheat pastas.  Although not necessarily lower in calories, there’s more fiber and nutrition in the whole grains options!
  7. Extra veggies!  Sometimes if I’m feeling a cheese smothered veggie burrito or palak paneer (rich cream based indian dish) I’ll order a salad or veggie on the side.  I get to indulge but save a few calories by ordering a vegetable or salad instead of the usual starch option.
  8. Skip the bread and chips.  Lots of restaurants, especially Italian and Mexican, bring chips and bread to the table automatically.  There isn’t a person I know who can deny fresh chips and salsa.  That just ain’t happening.  Since the chips or bread aren’t the reason I came to the restaurant, I’ll ask them to keep it.  I’d rather spend my “calorie dollars” on the real food.
  9. Lastly, remember – it’s all in moderation.  Sometimes I want the most fattening item on the menu and sometimes I don’t feel like sharing dessert with Dario.  It’s a rare occasion that I do either, but when I’m really in mood, I allow it.  Follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time healthy 20% of the time have splurge items.  It’s great to eat healthy as much as you can, but you also gotta let go and live life!


You tell me!  What are your favorite cuisines?  Do you have any tips for eating out healthy?  Do you have any favorite restaurants in DC to share?


  1. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies

    May 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I have trouble making good choices when we go out to eat. I always feel like, hey, I’m at a restaurant, I don’t want something healthy! I mean, I never get anything TOO terrible, but a bowl of pasta with olive oil, parm, and veggies at a restaurant could easily be 1000+ calories. These are great tips!

    • mewinebrenner

      May 2, 2013 at 6:51 am

      Me too – sometimes I get caught up in the moment! But with us eating out semi often, I gotta watch it!

  2. Kylie @ immaeatthat

    May 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I am for sure one of those people who can NOT deny chips and salsa…it just can’t be done haha. And I totally agree with the 80/20 rule, gotta live a little!

    • mewinebrenner

      May 14, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Yea those chips and dip are super hard to resist. Sometimes I give in too! Oh well – life is totally 80/20 for me too!

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