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Eating Out: Pre-dining Action Plan

Begin with the End in Mind

Always envision how you want to feel as you end your meal.

Imagine the physical sensation of being only moderately full—about 80%. Keep this vision in your head as you plan each part of your pre-dining action plan.

If you’ll be dining with others, think about your objectives for the gathering. Most likely, you’ll connect and chat with others at the table, and eating will be only part of the agenda.

Restaurant Selection

If possible, get involved in selecting the restaurant. Ideally, choose an establishment with a wide range of menu items. Unsure of the best options around you? Search the Internet for “healthy restaurants (insert your city name)” to find places to suggest. If needed, narrow the search to the top 20 restaurants. And although you may not plan to eat a vegetarian meal, searching for “vegetarian restaurants” or “vegetarian-friendly restaurants” can be another way to find a restaurant that likely caters to health-conscious diners. Initially, you may want to avoid buffets where the temptation to overeat is greater.

Pre-Select Your Meal

Evaluating your options and selecting your dish may be much easier if done in advance. In contrast, if you wait until you get to the restaurant, you’re more likely to make unhealthy choices when you are socially distracted or feel rushed to make a decision. You can find most restaurant menus online. Consider calling the restaurant to discuss the menu and any potential accommodations you might wish them to make. However, to have a productive conversation, these calls are best made before restaurants get busy, usually between 10:00 am-12:00 pm or 3:00-6:00 pm.

Don’t Arrive Hungry

If you know ahead of time that you'll be dining out, plan your day to include a light, nutritious snack an hour before your meal. For example, have a serving of fruit or a protein-rich food. You may also consider yogurt/coconut yoghurt which, according to a research study, has been shown to help manage hunger.

By ensuring that you’re not starving before you go out, you won’t set yourself up for failure with the temptation to veer from your menu plan or overeat.


Although dessert is always tempting, once again, envision how you will feel after eating it. Walk yourself down the timeline, pause, and ask yourself how you will feel in 30 minutes ...1-hour after eating it ... 2-hours after eating it.

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