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Is it possible to dine out and eat in a way that contributes to your fat loss goals? Absolutely!

In my 20’s, I gained a lot of experience working in restaurants (seven years total), and one thing I was constantly impressed with was how flexible the chefs could be. For instance, did you know that you can ask to have the sauce on the side for any dish at PF Chang’s? Yes, indeed! As an example, if you order Ginger Chicken and Broccoli with the sauce on the side, you are then left with plain steamed chicken breast, steamed broccoli and a side of ginger sauce for dipping. Ask for a side of steamed brown rice and there you have it – a very healthy and satisfying meal!

So I’m here to say:

Be fearless with your meal ordering! You’ll be surprised what you can get if you just ask nicely.

Here’s the game plan: Anytime you’re out to eat, take a look at the menu and find the dish that has the highest potential to be healthy (but also sounds good!). Then, figure out what changes you’ll need to request in order to make it even healthier. Keep in mind that most restaurants have one goal and one goal only, and that is to create food that tastes good. Calories are not usually their top concern, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be flexible. Costumer satisfaction is of utmost importance to them, too.


A café in Italy – March 2010

A café in Italy – March 2010

I’ll give you an example of what Jeff and I usually do. On the menu we see:

Turkey burger with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, chipotle mayo on a sesame seed bun with a choice of shoestring fries or sweet potato fries

Ok – this meal has a lot of potential to be healthy and low cal. Therefore when the server comes to the table, Jeff or I will flash our pearly whites and very nicely ask for the following:

“Can I please have the turkey burger with no cheese and no mayo, extra grilled onions (since they’re loaded with flavor but typically light on calories), a side of mustard, and is it possible to have wheat toast instead of the bun?”

They’ll either say “yes” or “no” to the wheat toast. If the answer is no, then say, “Ok, I’ll skip the bun all together then. May I please have a side salad with vinaigrette dressing instead of the fries? Oh, that’ll be an extra dollar? Ok, no problem (my health is worth it). Thanks!”

Jeff and I order like this all – the – time, and we rarely have a problem. We’ve done it in many different cities and countries over the years, and the practice has been absolutely key in staying healthy and achieving our fitness goals while on the road.


Check out Jeff's plate loaded with freshly caught crawfish!  It looks like a lot of food, but all of those heads and tails sure take up a lot of room!  And if I remember correctly, he only ate half the rice.

Check out Jeff’s plate loaded with freshly caught crawfish! It looks like a lot of food, but all of those heads and tails sure take up a lot of room! And if I remember correctly, he only ate half the rice. 😉 

Here are some requests that will save your health and lots of calories:

  • Salads:
    • Easy dressing or dressing on the side
    • Skip the cheese
    • Skip the croutons
    • Vinaigrette dressing instead of creamy dressing
    • Add any extra fruit or vegetables that they have available. Take a look at the other salads on the menu for ideas.
  • Vegetables steamed with no butter or oil, or ask for very light oil
  • Sauce on the side
  • Grilled fish or chicken instead of fried
  • Wheat bread or toast instead of white bread or bun
  • Lettuce wrap instead of bun (two pieces of iceberg lettuce)
  • Vegetables, salad or fruit instead of a starchy/fatty side such as mashed potatoes or fries
  • Mustard or salsa instead of mayo or “secret sauce”
  • Water or unsweetened tea to drink instead of anything else
  • Egg whites instead of regular eggs
  • Oatmeal made with water instead of milk

Lastly, being the restaurant veteran that I am, I must relay this friendly reminder: Please don’t forget to thank your server by tipping! They’re the ones making sure your order comes out just the way you need it, after all. Trust me, they will greatly appreciate it!

Vermont – October 2012


What are your favorite dining out substitutions and requests? Please share in the comments below!



Please consult your doctor or medical professional before performing any exercises or trying any weight loss techniques shown or described on this website, as there may be personal medical or health considerations that only your doctor or health professional is competent to assess.

Filed under: Weight Loss

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Great web site Very informative and good ImFo



Thanks for sharing your site. I was very helpful, ESPECIALLY the eating out area. I had gastric bypass a few years ago and still struggle with DECIDING what to eat at times. This site can help alot. Not sure why this writes all in caps though??


Robyn Jividen

This is a great site! I’ve read all of this :)) I have always struggled with my weight but in 2008 I decided to really do something about it because hey, I’m not getting any younger and I’d like to be around long enough to be a burden to my kids! (just kidding!) anyway, from 2008 to 2009 I had lost almost 100 pounds…I still would like to lose 30 pounds more but weight loss and metabolism has really slowed down…you’re blog has inspired me to get serious about this and get going…congratulations on a very informative site, keep it coming and I’ll keep on reading it…I’ll keep you posted on my journey of the last 30 pounds



egg white omelettes instead of regular omelettes!


Audrey Dunham

Agreed! That swap saves approximately 150 calories, depending on how big the omelette is.



I always ask for new potatoes instead of fries as they are healthier even though I know they are carbs, but I always find they fill me up more.


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