Celebrity Nutritionists Rely on These 14 Rules When Eating Out, and You Should Too

When you’re on a diet or trying to eat healthier, dining out can be tough—everything on the menu looks so much more appetizing than usual and making smart choices suddenly seems far-fetched. But, with the right rules and mindset in tow, eating out can be a breeze. Here, 14 rules top nutritionists swear by to keep overindulging at a minimum. 

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Eat Something Green Before Your Entrée

“Almost any restaurant you visit will have a side salad option. Some are on the dinky side, but ordering a double salad will take care of that,” explains Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author. “Be sure you choose a non-dairy dressing. Squeeze lemon juice over it or have a light vinaigrette option on the side. Celery sticks alone are a good option, too, if the starter salads are especially unappetizing. Just try to get some kind of raw, green food into your stomach before the entrée comes.”


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Hydrate Before You Leave the House

According to Shelly Malone, integrative and functional dietician and author of INFLAMED, you should make sure you are well hydrated before your meal (or that first glass of wine). “Make sure you have been drinking plenty of filtered water throughout the day and drink a big glass as soon as you get to the table. Sometimes our hunger craving can be mistaking for just being thirsty.”


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Be Familiar With the Menu

Celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson says to read the menu before you arrive to the restaurant so you can pre-plan meal choices. “Studies have shown that you make poorer choices and consume more calories when distracted.” 

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Think Twice Before Ordering

According to celebrity nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella, ordering two appetizers versus one meal might be a smarter (and more delicious) choice. "Portion sizes are so out of hand these days that I will often just order two appetizers: something vegetable-based, like a salad, and something more savory and warm. It’s a great way to add variety into your meal and avoid over-eating!"

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Watch Your Water

Snyder explains that you should have water with your meal, but try to drink most of it well before the meal comes, then take sips of it with your meal. “When you drink a large amount of water during a meal, it dilutes your stomach acid and makes digestion more difficult. It can also contribute to the dreaded post-meal bloat.”


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Be Sure to Snack

Malone says you shouldn’t be starving once you arrive to the restaurant. “Have a healthy snack (like a handful of nuts or a small green smoothie) within two hours of your reservation so that your blood sugar, and appetite, are in check.”


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Slow Down

“Chew your food thoroughly and be mindful of your meal,” Simpson says, explaining that your attention on what you’re eating and eating more slowly will help reduce over indulgence and allow your satiety signals to kick in. “Putting your utensils down between bites and counting 10–15 chews before swallowing not only helps prevent over eating, but also eases the digestion process (so you are less likely to be bloated after the meal).”


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Choose Your Cocktail Carefully

“The worst and most toxic drinks are the brewed alcoholic ones, like beer, tequila and rum, which cause sugar imbalances in the body and bloating,” says Snyder. If you really want a cocktail, she says to stick to vodka. “And if you happen to really love your occasional beer, at least choose a dark variety, which has more minerals than refined, lighter-colored options. The carbohydrates in dark beers are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream, so they have a less upsetting effect on your blood sugar level,” she explains.


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Make It Yours

When eating out, I love to choose an appetizer that is packed full of vegetables,” says Pasquella, adding that if they’re raw, it’s even better. “Vegetables are a great source of fiber to keep you full for hours, curb your cravings and bind to excess calories in the body so they aren’t stored as fat. I also always ask for dressings and sauces on the side or I take my own mixtures with me. In fact, I never leave home without MCT oil and Himalayan sea salt to add flavor to my food!”


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Forget About the Bread Basket

“Do NOT start with the bread basket,” Malone asserts. “Don’t even let it on the table,” she says. “The intake of refined carbs will spike your glucose, requiring a responding dose of inflammatory and fat-storing insulin. It will also continue the refined-carb craving throughout the meal and lead to bad choices. If you’re starving (and missed the snacking rule), order a clean, lower-carbohydrate, appetizer right away like grilled artichoke, vegetable-heavy soup, grilled veggies, tuna tartare with avocado or a small salad with nuts and/or olive-oil dressing.” 


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Forgo the Fruit

“No matter what you do, don’t order fruit for dessert or a dessert that contains fruit,” Snyder warns, explaining that if you do, the fruit will sit on top of everything you just ate and ferment, causing discomfort and bloating. “I recommend taking a little bit of dark chocolate in your purse if you know you’ll want something sweet after your meal or you know you’re likely to cave because the other people you’ll be dining with are big on ordering dessert.”


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Scope Out Proportions  

“Veggies, veggies and more veggies,” Malone says. “Get a salad as a starter (that includes good fats, such as an olive-oil based dressing or nuts), order a veggie-side dish that isn’t drenched in cheese and eyeball your entrée and eat in proportions of 50 percent veggies, 25 percent meat and 25 percent grains/carbs, even if the plating of it is nothing like that. “Bring the rest home in a doggie bag.”


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Be Mindful of Cooking Methods

Simson says to rule out fried options and look for “steamed, grilled, roasted or poached” choices, instead. “In general, these equate to fewer calories.”


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Be Thankful

“Practice gratitude! Studies show that you actually eat less when you take the time to appreciate your food,” Pasquella explains. “So even though restaurants are typically fast-paced, I always take a moment before the first bite to sit in gratitude. It also relaxes my body, which helps to improve digestion and because I’m less stressed and anxious, I eat less!”


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