5 easy tricks a dietitian uses to stick to her diet when eating out

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Carrot eyes. Sometimes we feel like that too.
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Trying to stay healthy? Eating out can be difficult. Dishes at restaurants are often designed to make us salivate with too much sugar or too much salt. They can be killer for your diet, depending on the dish or restaurant.

But eating out is about much more than food. It’s about bonding with your friends and family, and keeping up your social life. Sometimes it can feel like being on a diet and eating out are mutually exclusive, but they don’t have to be!

Business Insider spoke to Whitney Stuart, a registered dietitian from Whitness Nutrition who specializes in whole food diets, about eating out healthy. Here’s how she does it:


Stuart believes people shouldn’t allow any kind of dietary restriction or health goal to stop them from enjoying eating out. As a dietitian, she says that “setting an example and walking the talk is vital” to her practice.

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Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

So Stuart shares dishes she orders at local Dallas restaurants in the “What Would Whitney Order” section of her weekly newsletters and posts them on her Instagram.

Source: Whitness Nutrition


Tip 1. Be prepared before you go by picking the right restaurant.

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Thanks Obama.
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Jason Reed / REUTERS

Stuart recommends looking at menus online beforehand to see what types of food they have. She notes Italian food tends to be a “risky choice, unless it has coastal influences” because restaurants in the US tend to serve white pasta and white bread, both highly refined carbs.

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Where is the nutrition? These breadsticks aren’t your friend (but they do taste great…)
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@OliveGarden

Stuart says if a restaurant has “a good section of protein based entrees and green sides, you’re set!”

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A solid, satisfying choice.
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Unsplash / Joseph Gonzalez

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to ask for a substitution if a restaurant doesn’t suit your diet.

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When Stuart goes for Mexican, she asks for sliced cucumber or zucchini to dip in the salsa and guacamole. “Otherwise, that bag of chips will be demolished in minutes and I’ll have no desire to consume my delicious meal,” she says.

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No chips here! You can still enjoy delicious guac and salsa without them.
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Tip 3. Become a pro at navigating the menu. Stuart suggests zeroing in on the entrees section and identifying the main proteins offered, then seeing if you can build a plate around that.

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That branzino looks ideal.
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Alexa Pipia/Business Insider

Watch out for salads that too often lack enough actual vegetables, or are heavily sauced, Stuart warns.

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The croutons in this salad just add salt and refined carbs, no actual nutrients.
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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

“Most restaurants don’t provide a sizable vegetable portion,” Stuart says. She recommends asking to double the order of vegetables.

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Keep the veggies coming, please!
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Tip 4. Stuart makes sure there’s some kind of fat content for satiety. If you’re having a salad, see if you can add an avocado or an egg. If you’re having sautéed vegetables, olive oil can help. Fiber is also good for filling you up, but that comes naturally in all vegetables.

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Avocado and smoked salmon provide healthy fats and lean protein, with blueberries acting as a superfood.
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Flickr/With Wind

Tip 5. Once you’ve made your mind up, order first so that you can’t be swayed by your companions’ tempting options!

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Your best friend’s fettuccine Alfredo sounds amazing. Make sure you order before him so you don’t change your mind last minute.
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Shutterstock

“You’re more likely to be persuaded to change your game plan after hearing friends’ non-compliant orders,” Stuart said. “Get it on paper before you’re led into temptation!”

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You’re going to love this tofu stir-fry with brown rice just as much as your friend loves her T-bone steak.
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Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock