Dieting While Eating Out

The average American spends $812 eating out a year and over $2000 per household. Back in 1955 25% of every food dollar was spent in restaurants while today it is almost 50% of ever food dollar. Since 1955 the percentage of overweight individual has doubled from 30% to 60% in 2000.

Fast food restaurants have moved to larger version of hamburgers, fries and drinks. The average fast food hamburger’s size in 1957 was 1 ounce and had 210 calories. In 2002 it was 6 ounces and had 618 calories. Popcorn in 1957 was 3 cups and had 170 calories where as in 2002 it was 16 cups and 900 calories. The average 20oz soft drink has 250 calories. I know back in my home town some of the most popular restaurants are buffets.

It is important to adopt a strategy even before going to a restaurant. It is always a good idea to research the menus online for chain restaurants.  You can usually find the dishes to avoid and those with lowest calories.

Some strategies to keep calories lower:

  • Remove half your portion
  • Share entrée
  • Order only appetizer
  • Fill up on lower-calorie item before dinner
  • Eat larger meals at home so you aren’t as hungry
  • Get dressing on side. Use sparingly.
  • Forgo mayonnaise on sandwich
  • Eat slowly
  • Chew each bite 50 times
  • Put down fork between bites

Look for these terms on menu for lower calories:

  • Baked
  • Braised
  • Broiled
  • Caramelized
  • Cooked in own juices
  • Poached
  • Roasted
  • Steamed
  • Stir-fried

Avoid these high fat items:

  • Alfredo
  • Au Gratin
  • Bearnaise
  • Breaded
  • Creamed
  • Crispy
  • Fried
  • Prime
  • Rich
  • Scalloped

Eating out doesn’t have to be a disaster to your diet if you are careful and plan accordingly beforehand.


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About John Montague DC

John Montague DC is the owner of WebVitamins. He is active in the industry and is currently president of the NPA East.


  1. There are times that I would want to Google the stuff we order in foreign restaurants just so I know what food I’m gonna buy and how it’s gonna be cooked. Thanks for the list! I’ll share this with my folks once they go online!

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