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Enjoying Restaurants- The Healthy Way


I want to tell you that enjoying restaurants can be part of a healthy weight loss plan.
So, what is the best strategy to not fall of the wagon?

I often will go on restaurant websites with my clients and help them select the best entree or appetizers for that day according to their tastes and what else they ate that day. Often I will call ahead and talk to the manager to find out the specials and soup of the day. Clients have told me that they often do not open the menu because they already know what they will order as a result of our pre-planning.

The first goal is to order at restaurants without feeling deprived. A critical tip is to not arrive too hungry. We all know the feeling of being hungry and then overeat until we feel uncomfortably full. Without being too hungry you may want to order an appetizer and a salad or maybe two appetizers. Alternatively, you may order your normal number of courses and either split it with a friend or take the other half home. You must ask for a doggie bag quickly so that you make sure you stick to your plan.

Some great choices for appetizers are mussels or clams in wine sauce, oysters, crab cakes (they only give you two), shrimp cocktail, gourmet salad with a sprinkle of cheese and nuts and light vinaigrette, grilled prawns, chicken satay, ceviche, ahi tuna tartare, or even a minestrone, vegetable or soup that is not noodley or creamy. Think about transforming an entree into an appetizer portion such as lamb chops minus the mashed potatoes with sautéed greens and enjoy a slice of crusty, fresh baguette. Watch those delicious caesar salads where between the croutons, cheese and dressing there is often too much fat. If you take the option of splitting an entrée, such as fettuccine alfredo, I suggest ordering double veggies and start with a minestrone or tomato basil soup and skip the bread.

The best entrees to order for dinner are grilled fish, with a double serving of veggies and no starch so they can enjoy the bread along with their cocktail. I would leave the more oily salmon, sea bass, swordfish, trout dishes for lunch and eat the less oily petrale sole, halibut, cod, tilapia, scallops, shrimp and ahi tuna for dinner. You might think that ordering chicken out is healthy but that is not true. Typically the chicken you find at upscale spots has been marinated in oils and is as rich as store bought rotisserie chicken. If you are a meat fan, enjoy a petit filet, a beef kebab, or even veal marsala or scaloppini which are great choices. They are typically smaller portions and a double order of veggies or simple salad is great. There is always the option of scanning the menu and asking for an entree such as a petit filet with a baked potato instead of mashed or even sautéed spinach instead of creamed spinach. You are eliminating an incredible amount of fat with making simple substitutions.

Here are my quick tips for Japanese cuisine: miso soup is great to start. Try sunomono (cucumber salad) or seaweed salad to prevent you from eating more than a reasonable cup of rice. Your sushi rolls should not contain more than one cup of rice. You can tell the server to add more cucumbers instead of the rice. Also, try seafood nobe, chicken yakatori or even chicken teriyaki as long as it is white meat only.

For Chinese food your best options are Snow White Chicken (white meat only) or Shrimp, Scallops, Calamari or even lean beef with veggies such as snow peas, broccoli or string beans and up to 1 cup brown rice. Please order entrees with low fat. Clients tell me they notice a difference. Try your kid’s chow mein or enjoy one pot sticker. You can also order a cup of hot and sour soup and then take home half of your entree. It heats up nicely for lunch the next day.

I always tell my clients to assess their hunger when walking into the restaurant and make sure your head is attached to your stomach. It is so easy to go with your eyes and nose without paying attention to your appetite. You can just go for dessert. Just be social and order a simple salad as an entree and delight in having a yummy dessert. If you had a small appetite to begin with, then you will walk out of the restaurant having a light feeling and sleep well that night.

You should be able to continue enjoying one of life’s goodies – great restaurants – and still eat sensibly.

Linda’s services are often covered by insurance. See website for listing. Please feel free to call me at (925) 855-0150 or e-mail me at and tell me about your nutritional concerns. Look at the blog section for past articles, tips, recipes and blogs.