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30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge Day 12: A Healthy Guide to Restaurant Eating

author image Valaer Murray
Valaer Murray Goldsworthy has previously worked at LIVESTRONG.COM, AOL, and Whalerock Industries. She's a founding editor of, served as the head of programming for the Webby-honored YouTube Original Channel, and has written for numerous outlets.
30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge Day 12: A Healthy Guide to Restaurant Eating
Eating out doesn't mean you have to blow your calorie budget for the day. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM

Your get lean journey is really more about a lifestyle change. It's not a diet or a short-term fix — and it shouldn't put a damper on your social life. So what happens on date night or when you want to go to dinner with friends?

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Don't panic! Eating out while watching your diet can be tricky, but with a little preparation, you can navigate the treacherous waters of temptation without doing serious damage.

4 Tips for Planning Your Dinner Out

  1. Select a restaurant with healthy menu options. (If that's within your control, of course.) Pro tip: The MyPlate calorie tracking app already has a lot of healthy chain restaurant foods in its database, so you can even pre-track your calories. 
  2. Check out the menu online and decide what you'll order before you get there.
  3. Want an appetizer, entree and dessert? Adjust your calories for the day accordingly, so you don't exceed your limit.
  4. Get your workout in ahead of time. You likely won't feel like it after eating out plus you'll remember exactly how much work burning 100 calories required. 

7 Ways to Eat Healthy On the Go

Alright, so you made last-minute plans and don't have time to plan your meal. Or you just need to run out and grab lunch. If you don't have time to strategize, don't worry. These tips will help you eat out without derailing your progress.

  1. Avoid alcohol. Stick with water, unsweetened teas or drinks without added sugars.
  2. Practice portion control. Eat half of your entree and ask for a to-go bag for the rest.
  3. Order things on the side. Order salad dressings and sauces on the side, adding only the amount you need.
  4. Steer clear of fried and sautéed dishes. Opt for grilled, steamed or broiled dishes instead.
  5. Assert yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for modifications or substitutions to make your order healthier. Your server should be happy to accommodate your requests.
  6. Take your time. Eat slowly to give your stomach enough time to tell your brain you're full.
  7. Swap out starchy sides. Trade potatoes, pastas and bread for steamed veggies or a side salad.

How to Join the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge

Calorie tracking can be easy.
Calorie tracking can be easy. Photo Credit: LIVESTRONG.COM

1. Download the MyPlate App

Documenting your food and activity might seem like overkill, but it’s not. People who track their calories and physical activities enjoy greater success losing weight and keeping it off for good!

Tracking everything honestly is essential to making the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge work for you. Sometimes you’re not even aware of everything you consume, but once you start tracking it, you’ll think twice before you make poor choices. And that’s a good thing.

With LIVESTRONG.COM’s free MyPlate Calorie Tracker — available on desktop and for iOS and Android devices — you can track it all:

  • Daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks
  • Exercise and activity
  • Weight
  • Water/hydration
  • BMI (Body Mass Index)

2. Print Out Your Daily Calendar

Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge, you're accountable for five key steps: tracking breakfast, lunch and dinner; tracking your water intake; and either walking or running.

We created a helpful calendar to keep you on task for all 30 days. Print it out and check off each activity as soon as you complete it.

Print this out and keep it where you can see it.
Print this out and keep it where you can see it. Photo Credit: LIVESTRONG.COM

3. Stay Connected on Facebook

For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.

4. Learn More About Dining Out While Getting Lean

Readers — Are you joining us in the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge? If so, what's your weight-loss goal? Have you ever done a weight-loss challenge group before? How did it go? Have you joined our LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Group on Facebook? Leave a comment below and let us know!


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