How to control your meals while eating out

What cafe or restaurant meal have you missed most during lockdown? For many of us, it’s a relief to return to table service. However, the flip side is less control over ingredients, quantities and portions. A restaurant serve of creamy pasta often includes more sauce and pasta than recommended portion sizes, packing in unnecessary saturated fat and kilojoules. Then there are dishes that sound healthy but contain hidden ingredients. And let’s not forget the temptation to nibble bread while we wait for the main. 😏

That’s not to say you shouldn’t embrace cafe brekkies (now is the time to support hospitality businesses). In fact, the new chapter is an opportunity to reset your dine-out habits. Try these tips from SH dietitian Liz.

1. Consume a glass of water before your meal. Starting the meal feeling fuller reduces the likelihood of overeating.
2. Choose tomato-based foods (e.g. pasta dishes). Tomato-based sauces usually contain less saturated fat and kilojoules than cream-based ones.
3. Share a main. Often, cafe and restaurant main servings exceed recommended portion sizes. Going halves helps to bring it back in line with home-cooked portions. Alternatively, choose a starter as a main.
4. Choose a salad/veggies as a side. A pile of crispy lettuce and cucumber with vinaigrette or cooked vegetables can be as satisfying as crispy chips, with a fraction of the fat, salt and kilojoules. Salads are good options for main meals, but watch for creamy dressings and fried croutons.
5. Look for fruit. If you order home-made porridge or Granola, be aware that the portions likely exceed recommended serving sizes. Ask for cut-up fresh fruit and stir it in. This will contribute to satiety, provide extra nutrition and reduce the amount you consume.

Remember, nutrition advice needs to be personally tailored. If you are aiming for a particular health outcome, consult an accredited practising dietitian.


blank About Author


Dual passions for food and health led Soaring Health dietitian Liz to study dietetics, but what really drives her is seeing the tangible differences dietary changes can make to a person’s health and wellbeing – from managing disease symptoms to sustainable weight loss. With a professional goal to “allow my patients to become the best they can be” by translating nutrition science into practical, realistic food recommendations, Liz has a refreshingly human approach.

1 Comment

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