Dieting can be difficult. Even when you’re sticking to your plan and seeing positive results, all it takes is to be invited to a restaurant to eat with friends. It is then that you can almost feel all the good work being undone. It’s easy to resign yourself to giving in and eating whatever is available. It is, however, possible to eat out and to stick to your diet plan.

Looking for alternative menu options

If you’re following a strict diet plan such as the Cambridge diet, your diet consultant will be able to advise you more specifically, but it may be possible to find suitable meal options at a restaurant. For example, some of the recipes you can eat while on the diet are cottage pie with cheese and roasted chickpeas with vegetables and spicy couscous.

By making a note of ingredients and looking for similar options on the restaurant menu, you may be able to request one or two minor changes to make the restaurant version slightly more in-line with your diet plan. You could also try asking for a smaller portion if their portion sizes are overly generous. Alternatively, you could share a meal with a friend if they are following a similar diet plan. Much of this relies on the restaurant being co-operative. Generally, restaurants will want to keep the customers happy, so should be willing to accommodate reasonable requests, as long as you are not too demanding.

 Researching the menu beforehand

 If you don’t feel comfortable asking for slight changes to set meals on the menu, a little research before arriving at the restaurant will help. Many restaurants now have a website, and their menus are likely to be posted on there. Sometimes they will display the nutritional values of the food. Other times, you might need to research further to get an educated estimate of the calorie/fat/sugar content. That can give you an idea of the most suitable meals for you, without wrecking your diet and all the hard work you’ve put in so far.

Avoiding temptations

 It’s important to feel motivated to lose weight, before agreeing to eat out at a restaurant. While your non-dieting friends will be tucking into starters, main courses and desserts while drinking alcohol, it’s a challenge to withstand temptation. Your inner voice might tell you it’s just for one night and you can restart the diet tomorrow.

Where many people go wrong is to ‘save themselves’ all day by eating little or nothing, knowing they’ll be eating a big meal later. This can achieve the opposite of what you intended though. You will be hungrier and more likely to eat more than you usually would in the day, to make up for not eating all day. The better option is to stick to your diet plan as usual and stray away from it as little as possible when you get to the restaurant.

Drinking lots of water before and while you’re at the restaurant can help to make you feel fuller and less likely to give in to the temptation of ordering the same amount of food as everyone else. Eat slowly by spending more time chewing your food and taking smaller bites can help to make you feel like you’ve eaten more than you have.

Other things you can do

 If you’re struggling to find a suitable option on the menu, you might consider ordering two starters instead of a main course. A bowl of soup and a salad could be an option. It’s essential to ensure there’s nothing added to the salad which could ruin your diet, such as unhealthy dressings or extra ingredients you wouldn’t find in a typical healthy salad.

Try lean meats rather than those likely to contain lots of fat. Grilled skinless chicken breast will be better for you than many other types of meat such as beef ribs and pork shoulder. Swapping chips for vegetables will also help your diet. Many restaurants will offer an alternative to chips with their meals.

Some vegetarian options might be more beneficial to your diet, so even if you’re not a vegetarian, it may be worth asking for this option.


While it may seem like a lot of hard work to keep up your diet when meeting friends for a meal, it can be done. You don’t have to choose between your diet and your social life, and it will all be worth it when you achieve your target weight.