Eating out can be extremely disruptive when you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I eat out A LOT. I have meetings over breakfast or lunch. Most evenings, I have a social event – some work-related, some due to my significant other, some community-related and others personal. I cook at home less than twice a week. It’s my lifestyle.

As I’ve aged, my metabolism has slowed and it has become harder to manage weight. So what do I do? I try every day to pay attention to what I eat AND how much I eat. Some days I’m more successful than other days. But I know each day, I have a chance to get back on track.

Here are some helpful things I do, which may also work for you if you find yourself eating out a lot.

1- Review menu online.

Before going to any restaurant, I look online for the menu. I make my decision before leaving. In this way, when I’m at the restaurant, I know what I want to order. When I’m at the restaurant, I usually don’t look at the menu again because it’s always tempting to change my order.

2- Look for healthy options on menu.

Most restaurants offer health options – typically low sodium and low caloric options. It’s extremely tempting to order something else, but I remind myself how many hours on the treadmill it would take to burn off.

3- Ask for salad dressing on the side.

If my meal comes with a salad, I always ask for my salad dressing on the side. I have become accustomed to eating salad without any dressing. But every once in a while, I’ll dip my fork in the dressing then add my salad to the fork. In this way, I minimize how much salad dressing I eat.

4- Ask for sauces on the side.

Some entrees have a sauce on meats. Even some vegetables have a sauce on them. For both instances, I ask for my sauce on the side. Most sauces have a lot of sugar, sodium or butter. Omitting sauces can lower the amount of calories.

5- Order water.

Water is a great substitute for high-caloric drinks. For those times when I order an alcoholic beverage, I make sure to drink a full glass of water with my drink. In this way, it fills me up and slows down high-caloric drink consumption.

6- Know your weaknesses.

My weaknesses are bread and desserts. Instead of depriving myself, I make limits. I limit my bread intake to one slice. I know I’ll eat all of my dessert so I limit how much I eat of my main entrée. I constantly remind myself that I won’t receive a medal for cleaning my plate.

7- Put down your fork after each bite.

It’s challenging but I try after each bite to put down my fork. I focus my attention on the person I’m dining with instead of shoveling food in my mouth. It’s very hard for me to put down my fork after each bite. It’s a new habit and I have to be patient with myself.

Eating out a lot exposes you to high caloric and high sodium meals. Trying to maintain healthy choices without appearing neurotic can be challenging. For me, it’s self-discipline and knowing the impacts of unhealthy choices. I’m not perfect every day – I’m only human – but I’ve learned not to berate myself for mishaps. I just try to make sure I don’t have more mishaps than healthy eating. Remember, eating healthy will lower your future health care expenses. 



Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and as a financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”