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Get answers to your nutrition & healthy eating questions.

Call us toll-free† at
1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.

You can ask... for smaller portions



 

How can you enjoy the great taste of restaurant food without overeating? Ask for smaller portions. A simple request can make a difference in cutting your calorie, fat and salt intake -- especially if you eat out more than once a week.







Shrink your portions 

Eating smaller portions is a simple way to watch your waistline. Most people still feel their hunger is satisfied with a smaller amount of food. Here are some smart solutions to common portion control challenges.


Challenge #1

You want to order something that you don’t make at home. The problem? A single portion is so big, it could be served on a platter.

What you can do: Enjoy the taste but keep huge portions in check.

  • Enjoy half of your meal now and take the other half home for another meal. You won’t waste any food, and leftovers make a great lunch!
  • Order a small-sized portion. Some restaurants offer menu items in large and small sizes, or lunch-sized portions. If these options aren’t on the menu, ask your server. 
  • Order a small appetizer and a starter salad as your meal. Hummus and pita wedges, grilled calamari, satay skewers, soup or fresh spring rolls can be satisfying, and you won’t fill up on too many calories.  
  • Share the taste. The best way to deal with huge restaurant-size desserts is to order one portion and ask for many spoons. 
  • Pair up your decadent dessert with something lighter. For example, order fresh fruit and split a thin slice of chocolate cake.
  • Look for healthier dessert options such as frozen yogurt, angel food cake, or sorbet.


Challenge #2

It’s hard to stop eating even when you’ve had enough.

What you can do: Stop a couple of times during your meal to ask yourself if you’re still hungry. It’s easy to get distracted and eat more than you need. Don’t wait until you feel full – by then, you may have overeaten.

  • Think about eating only half of what you’re served and taking the other half home.
  • Eat slowly. To slow down your pace, put your fork down between bites and drink water.
  • When you’ve eaten just enough, ask the server to clear your plate and wrap leftovers to go. You won’t be tempted to nibble mindlessly on food if it’s not sitting in front of you.


Challenge #3

You always order a drink other than water.

What you can do: Calories in drinks can really add up. Decide whether these extra calories are going to be worth it.

  • Ask for water – it’s the best thirst quencher. It’s usually free and has no calories.
  • Order a small drink if you want something other than water. Just remember to skip the refills.
  • Limit yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks per meal, and space them an hour apart. A “drink” is 12 oz of regular beer (5% alcohol); 5 oz of wine; 3 oz of sherry, port or vermouth; or 1.5 oz of spirits or liquor, such as rum or vodka. Drinking too much alcohol means extra calories and potential health issues.


Challenge #4

You like to treat yourself to dessert when you eat out.

What you can do: Enjoy a little taste by eating slowly and enjoying every spoonful.

Small is the new big. Some restaurants have a tasting menu with bite-sized desserts. Most restaurants serve up large desserts. Here’s how to indulge a little without the guilt:

  • Share the taste. The best way to deal with huge restaurant-size desserts is to order one portion and ask for many spoons.
  • Pair up your decadent dessert with something lighter. For example, order fresh fruit and split a thin slice of chocolate cake.
  • Look for healthier dessert options such as frozen yogurt, angel food cake, or sorbet.
  • Want the fizz without the calories? Try club soda with a slice of lemon or lime.


Bottom Line

Eating out can be a nice treat, but most restaurant foods tend to be high in calories, fat and salt, and lower in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and milk. If you’re trying to eat healthier, you’re better off eating out less often. But here’s the good news: if consumers ask for healthier menu choices, restaurants will offer them.

Contact an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian for more tips on making smart choices when eating out. Call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.

Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2016. All rights reserved.

Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.