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We’re all aware that the yummy food in restaurants can hide a lot more calories than we may think. Many popular restaurant chains have calorie counts available for their dishes on their websites, and it can be shocking to learn just how chock full of calories, fats and carbs some of even the most healthy-sounding plates are.

However, for most smaller local restaurants, calorie counts aren’t available and we’re left to guess just how healthy (or not) certain menu items may be.  This explains why on vacation, in which we pretty much exclusively eat in restaurants, we can gain up to 5 lbs per week!

The good news is that by avoiding certain key eating mistakes at restaurants, you can help minimize the damage.  Below are 10 Restaurant Eating Mistakes to be aware of!




1) Raiding the bread/chip bowl.

We’ve all been there.  We’re starved, we haven’t ordered yet, and the big bread basket or chips and salsa arrive.  Let the mindless eating begin, and the calories begin to really add up.  To avoid this conundrum, ask the waiter to remove the bread from the table.  If your dinner company is enjoying it, all that’s left is to exercise self-control until your entree arrives.


2) Skipping the salad.

Starting your meal with a garden salad is not only a great way to get your veggies in, it can help you consume less calories overall.  The fiber in the salad helps you fill up before the entree comes.  Ask your waiter for the dressing on the side and skip the caeser salad altogether.


3) Eating anything fried.

This definitely applies to French fries and other deep fried foods, but don’t forget to include stir fried dishes in this definition.  Chefs are trained to use lots of oil and butter to heighten the  flavor in foods. Choose foods that are steamed, baked, grilled or lightly sauteed instead.  Eating stir fry at home once in a while is fine because you can control the amount and type of oil used in your own meal.


4) Filling up on carbs.

Most restaurant dishes include a more than generous portion of rice, potatoes, pasta or other carbohydrate.  These are a great and inexpensive way for the restaurant to fill up your plate with more food!  Decide on a portion (half cup to a cup) of your carbohydrate sources that you’re going to eat and push the rest to the side of your plate, or onto your salad plate.


avoid creamy buttery sauces5) Choosing the Creamy and Buttery Sauces

Cream sauces, butter sauces and gravies are delectable, but they pack in the calories without you even taking notice.  And trust me…the restaurant will NOT use low fat creams in their sauces like you would if you were cooking at home.  Instead opt for baked, grilled, broiled or tomato sauces to keep the calorie count a bit lower.


6) Not asking for substitutions.

Most restaurants are happy to oblige so that you can have it your way.   Consider substituting fried fish or chicken for baked or a side of French fries for veggies or baked potato.


7) Eating the whole entree.

Statistics show that restaurant portion sizes have been on the increase for the past several decades.   Most restaurant entree sizes are much larger than we need to fill up, and definitely contain more calories than we need – especially if we’re on a 5 to 6 small meals per day plan.  When all that tasty food is there in front of us, it can be difficult to stop when we’re full.  Instead, when you order, ask the waiter to have half of the entree wrapped up for you – OR – ask if it’s possible to purchase a half order.  Another option is to order from the appetizer menu where portion sizes are bound to be smaller.


8 ) Drinking your calories.

Since your overall restaurant experience is likely to be higher in calories than a meal at home, consider water to wash down your dinner when dining out.  Sodas, iced teas, juices and coffee drinks are full of sugars and calories that we just don’t need.


9) Saving room for dessert.

Restaurant desserts are super tasty but notoriously high in calories.  Your best bet is to skip dessert entirely.  If you just can’t resist, trade the cakes, custards and baked goods for about 1/2 cup of ice cream or frozen yogurt.  The calorie count for both is about the same, but the frozen yogurt is lower in saturated fat.


avoid cocktails weight loss10) Imbibing in cocktails.

The specialty cocktails offered at restaurants can be much higher in calories than they might seem.  Avoid at all costs treats like giant margaritas, piña coladas and sweet flavored martinis.  If you must have a drink – keep it to one, and opt for a glass of wine or a dirty martini.


At Athlean-XX for Women we’re all about healthy eating AND flexibility, giving you nutrition options that fit into your life.  That’s why we include FREE BONUS Restaurant Cheat-ah Sheets with our Athlean-XX for Women Nutrition and Fitness program.  These Cheat-ah Sheets will help you choose the best options at all of the most popular chain restaurants!  No, it’s not necessary for you to stop eating out – you just have to eat out smarter!  Order Athlean-XX for Women now to find out how easy eating right can be!  No calorie counting, no restriction, no crazy cook-a-thons, and no Friday nights at home!

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