A Nutritionist Shares Her Tips On How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

By Carolyn Stine January 10, 2019 

While we prefer not to call our goals for the coming year “new year’s resolutions” (we’ve had a low success rate in the past - don’t get us started), one of the biggest areas that we want to focus on in the coming year is eating more healthily and mindfully. We often start out on track in the month of January, only to find ourselves not wanting to say “no” to a girls night out or dinner with friends (cue the FOMO). Balancing the healthy eating goals with being social can be quite the challenge, so naturally, we called in some back-up.

Meet Elizabeth Yontz Moye, a nutritionist, certified health coach, and food blogger (check out her blog if you’re ready to start drooling on your phone). We chatted with her about how to approach dining at a restaurant in a way that won’t compromise your health goals for 2019 and beyond. Spoiler alert: it is possible.


So here we are in January 2019. Whether you’re looking to do a little detox after the holidays, set some new health goals, or simply maintain an already healthy lifestyle, dining out can often seem to be in conflict with these aspirations. Does dining out need to be so difficult?


Two words: absolutely not! I am all about using a PFFP approach (protein, healthy fats, fiber and phytonutrients). When you combine these rockstar elements, you’ll ensure that you have a healthy plate that keeps you full for hours.

With protein, you’ll ultimately feel more satisfied and stay fuller, longer, in addition to supporting muscle metabolism. Fill up on Greek yogurt, grass fed beef, seafood, chicken, pork, eggs and high quality protein powder.

With healthy fats from whole food sources, you’ll be increasing satiety and curbing cravings. Look for nuts and seeds, coconut oil and milk, avocado, grass fed butter, soft cheeses (goat + sheep’s milk), cold pressed oils, ghee, and olives.

With fiber, this element adds bulk to your meals and slows the uptake of sugar into the blood. Load up on non-starchy veggies for fiber, with the added benefit of them having a high water content, which adds to their ability to “fill you up”. Starchy tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes and plantains are also high in fiber, as well as fruit. These are all great options, but make your focus on vegetables like leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers and tomatoes to get the biggest nutrient bang.

With phytonutrients, you can find these in high fiber veggies, as well as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

By building a plate around these four components, you’re able to stabilize blood sugar while staying full, feeling satisfied, and not feeling restricted! It’s important to think about what you can add to your plate as opposed to what’s “off-limits”. It’s also important to go into a meal without having a restrictive mindset, because then you won’t be able to enjoy yourself or the people around you.


Walk us through each part of the meal - from apps, to mains, to dessert. How should we be thinking about enjoying each in a healthy way?


I typically pass on appetizers because I want to really enjoy my entree. Some healthy appetizer choices are hummus or guacamole with veggies (fat, fiber and phytonutrients - boom!), edamame, or a bowl of miso soup.

If you really want to try an indulgent appetizer that someone orders, take a bite and move on with your night. Otherwise you might find yourself going overboard later that night on dessert or snacks because you can’t stop thinking about that darn spinach and artichoke dip you resisted.

When it comes to your entree, PFFP is key. With the exception of fiber, carbohydrates are what cause your blood sugar to spike. Steady blood sugar levels keep hunger in check, energy levels high and the body in fat burning mode. Don’t count calories, just focus on PFFP.


Let’s talk common culprits - the bread basket, dessert, and alcohol (often known as the areas where it’s easiest to go off-the-rails).


If you’re able to, skip the bread and pasta. Most of the time it's a filler food and turns to straight sugar when it hits your blood. These are also the foods that often make you feel bloated and heavy. Ask for half the rice, pasta, or quinoa if you're having it, and then ask to double the vegetable portion instead!

Our bodies make clearing the alcohol in our system the tip-top priority once it’s been consumed. Since alcohol contains acetate, which is toxic, your body wants to flush it out ASAP. All other normal metabolic processes are put on the back burner when you consume alcohol. Obviously this isn’t what anyone desires who is aiming to feel healthy!

High-quality vodka, gin and tequila are much better options than dark liquors (like whiskey for example). They’re purer forms of alcohol. You’ll most likely notice a difference in the way you feel the next day if you make the switch, too! Choose vodka, gin, or tequila with carbonated mineral water or regular water. Flavor your drink with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, berries, fresh cucumbers, bitters or fresh herbs.

Dessert gets a little bit tricky. I’m a firm believer in intuitive eating and listening to our bodies. If you’re out with friends and absolutely want a bite of the caramel brownie sundae, order it and split it between the four of you. The reason I say this is because otherwise we tend to continue thinking and obsessing about the dang brownie. Then we go home and binge on something else because we’re craving the brownie we ignored, and end up consuming more calories than the bite of the brownie had. Another tip is to decide beforehand that you aren’t going to order dessert at the restaurant, but rather go somewhere after dinner if you’re serious about your sweet craving. By the time the excitement from dinner is over and you’re in the car, you might find that you’d rather just go home than out to another place for that dessert.


Are there any particular menu areas or items that we should look out for?


Words to avoid: breaded, deep fried, sweet, and glazed. Always make sure to ask how something is prepared. I once went to a restaurant and ordered the black bean burger only to find out it was fried! This wasn’t stated in the description. Sauces and creams can also sneak their way onto your plate. If you order salmon, check to make sure it’s not coated in a cream sauce or covered in olive oil (unless you want this, of course!)


What are your thoughts on sharing dishes? What do we do if someone takes the reins and orders for the table, but we want something different?


Personally, I love having my own plate and am not a fan of sharing. If you’re with a friend and feel comfortable speaking up, definitely let them know you’re uncomfortable with this and explain why. Whether you’re on a weight-loss journey or not, not everyone loves sharing food. If you’re with co-workers and things are less casual, ask if anyone would like to start with a salad, or say how you were really eyeing a certain dish. I’m sure they’ll make an exception or you can find someone to split the healthier option with you.


Is there a way to ask discreetly if something can be made gluten-free, or if there’s a vegan option off-menu? We hate to seem picky, needy, or difficult.


Do NOT be afraid of micromanaging your server. You simply have to be ok with speaking up for yourself. I usually end up creating something totally off the menu by the end of my requests, but it’s always worth it. Inform your server of your food issues, and ask about everything. The people around you will understand if they support you, and the waiter has to understand because it’s his job!


Do you have any surefire strategies going into the meal?


I always check on Yelp or Instagram before heading to a new restaurant. I prefer looking at images as opposed to just the menu because it gives me a better idea for portion sizes and any surprises that might come up (think: hidden sauces, fried dishes, etc.). Then I have an idea of what I may order going into it, and feeling like I have a game plan makes it harder to go off the rails.


Any other tips for how to hack staying healthy while dining out?


Eat slowly and pay attention to portions. You should never deprive yourself of any foods — whether you think they’re “bad” or “good”. It’s all about enjoying the foods you love in moderation so you never feel the urge to go overboard. Eating intuitively and listening to your body is the most important thing we can do!

Elizabeth Yontz Moye Bio: I believe in a traditional diet, enjoying all foods in moderation and prioritizing ingredients over the nutrition label. I don’t believe in diet trends, food trends, calorie trackers or having a “good food”, “bad food” list. Eliminating any food or food group typically results in binging later on, heightens cravings or causes an individual to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Helping individuals tap into their own inner motivation and create programs that work for their unique lifestyles is what health coaching is all about. If I can help clients come to their own realization about what will work for them, actually follow through and start to transform, I can’t imagine that there is any more rewarding work to be done.

Tell Us What You Think

Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

Follow Us

Related Stories

Copyright © 2019 Bashed, Inc. Read our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram