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What to Order in a Restaurant – It’s Not as Hard as You Think!

Article by Bobby Kelly

Bread baskets, fried appetizers, and large portions are just a few of the things that can scare the pants off of my clients who are working hard to maintain a healthy diet. Eating out can make you feel like you are walking into a war zone. For many of you, that is exactly what you are doing.

Walking into a room with the enemy.

The enemy is food.

However, it doesn’t have to be.

You see, I know that the chefs (who cook with all the wrong ingredients) want you to enjoy the dining experience at their establishment.

After all, if you don’t come, they won’t make a living.

You are the customer and you are paying the bill.

So, what are the keys to getting your food prepared the way you want?


The knowledge is: knowing how you would like your meal prepared.

The timing is: when to ask.

For example, if you only eat Kosher food, are vegetarian, or follow other dietary restrictions, oftentimes food substitutions can be made. Heck, if you inform airlines ahead of time, you can even have your meal on the plane prepared to meet your dietary requests.

BUT if you don’t plan ahead and call first (there is that timing thing again) you will either have no meal or you may need to eat something that does not fit with your lifestyle choice.

So let’s say you are not that strict with your eating choices. You may choose something like chicken with wild rice and steamed veggies.

Great job, right?

You made good choices. Yes?

Sure, but do you know how they prepared your great choice?

You see, the chef and the restaurant are all about everything tasting amazing. And that sometimes means taking liberties with the ingredients they use and their preparation.

Which often means: high fat, high sugar, high calories.

So here are some subtle changes you can make to your order when you speak to the server to ensure you have a meal that is 400-500 calories instead of 1400-1500 calories.

“Waiter, could you please ask the chef to go light on the (cheese, oil, butter, cream, sauce) __________?”

Many times, you can eliminate these things all together.

Sandwiches- “Waitress, could you please exchange the cheese and mayonnaise with spicy mustard and a tomato?”

Chicken- “Pardon me? Is the chicken white meat or dark meat? I would prefer a white chicken breast please.”

Baked Potato- “When you bring me my baked potato, can I please get the condiments on the side?” (NOTE: Only eat half the potato and use condiments to taste. Meaning, don’t drown your potato!)

Fish- “Sir, could I please have my fish (choose baked, broiled, poached or grilled) ___________, rather than deep fried? And, could you use olive oil and lemon or vinegar for seasoning please?”

Salads- “Madam, I would like the vinaigrette dressing on the side instead of the creamy Italian.” Then dip your fork in the dressing before you start getting into the salad. You will be amazed how much less dressing you use and how little you miss the soupy taste.

Eggs- If you absolutely despise egg whites try this- “Can I have 3 eggs? 2 egg whites and one whole egg?” Similar taste, but less fat and cholesterol.

Italian Sauce- “Can I please have the chicken with marinara sauce rather than alfredo?”

Bread- “Please make my toast whole wheat with sugar-free jam on the side.”

Finally, if you know you are going to have a high calorie choice and it is around dinner time- choose to divide your meal in half before you even start. Have the rest boxed up and take it home.

You will be amazed how satisfied you will feel. And I don’t know about you, but I love leftovers!

About the Author

For over 17 years Bobby Kelly has taken his passion for coaching to a level not reached by many Phoenix personal trainers. Bobby has been featured as an expert adviser on CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, and CBS and local affiliate stations. Bobby, now a personal trainer in AZ, knows the success of hard work and determination. He’ll get you where you want to be. Visit Bobby’s Phoenix Personal Training facility at or email his Results Only Phoenix Gym.

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