8 Simple Karina Method-Approved Tips to Dine Out & Diet

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Special Note: Be sure to check out my related 3-Part Haute Talks video series with Giuliana HERE after reading below!

We all love to go out to eat! It’s fun, social and hopefully delicious. Or perhaps eating out is a necessity: you have a crazy work schedule; you’re a mom-on-the-go; you frequently travel. Either way, eating out does not have to equal diet catastrophe.

I sat down with my dear friend Giuliana Rancic at her incredible restaurant called RPM in Chicago. Giuliana was the perfect person to chat on camera with on how to enjoy and incorporate dining out into a healthy lifestyle.

I wanted to share a few of my specific Karina Method Eating Out tips below to help you order off any menu and maintain a healthy weight or drop those unneeded pounds – without sacrificing a great meal.  

1. Do Your Homework

It only takes a few minutes to read the menu before you get to the restaurant. Choosing your food before you arrive makes it easier to avoid impulsive decisions you might regret later. Stick to your choice no matter what others are ordering.

A Few Restaurant “Code Words” for:

  • Healthy: Baked, grilled, steamed, spiced, seasoned, roasted, braised, broiled, poached

  • High Calorie: Stuffed, creamy, cheesy, smothered, melted, rich, loaded

  • High Sugar: BBQ, glazed, teriyaki

  • Fried: Tempura, battered, crispy, breaded, crusted, crunchy

2. Drink Up…Water That Is

Water is the perfect choice for drinking before and during a meal, especially if you drink it instead of other high calorie drinks such as soda, juice or alcohol. Drinking water can actually cause moderate, temporary increases in metabolism, and drinking it about a half hour before meals can make you automatically eat fewer calories because you feel less hungry.

3. Skip the Bread

If the breadbasket isn’t sitting in front of you, then clearly you can’t mindlessly nibble on it while you’re waiting for your food. It’s easy to be tempted and overeat on bread, so politely decline and save yourself hundreds of unsatisfying calories. Hold out for the main attraction.

4. Ask to Make A Healthy Swap

If you don’t ask, you will not receive. This is a big game changer. You can make a healthier version of your favorites. It’s easy to ask the waiter if the chef is willing to leave off adding salt to your meal, grill your protein, or swap out those fries for a side salad or grilled vegetables. Steamed broccoli or spinach salads are both extremely low in calories and high in vitamin C, fiber and good-for-you nutrients. You’ll cut calories and boost your vegetable intake – double plus! 

A Few Important Questions to Ask:

  • How is this dish prepared?

  • What comes with this meal?

  • May I make substitutions?

  • How large are the portions?

5. Ask for Sauces on the Side

Sauces and dressings add lots of extra calories, so ask for both on the side. Dip your fork into the dressing rather than pour it over your salad – a little dressing goes a long way. Keeping it separate will make it much easier to control how much you consume.

6. Mindfully Eat and Chew, Chew, Chew

Pay attention to what you put into your mouth. Sounds easy enough, but how often do we eat a whole meal without being present to a single bite? Take the time to appreciate and savor the flavors of your meal, as well as the thoughts that surface while you eat. Mindful eating can support self-control and prevent you from overeating. Chewing your food thoroughly and slowing down could help you eat less. It may also help you feel full sooner since you’re giving your body time to digest.

7. A Mountain of Food For One

Many restaurants serve crazy portions of food—about three times the quantity that we actually need in a meal. Don’t join the clean-your-plate club. Share a meal or ask for a doggie bag. Eat until you're satisfied and take the rest home. When it comes to desserts, stick to the three-bite rule. Take three bites, enjoy and then ask your server to take it away (or let your friends finish it up).

Smart Serving Sizes:

  • Protein (meat, chicken, or fish): The palm of your hand or the size of a deck of cards

  • Salad: An open-cupped hand

  • Fruit and vegetables: Your fist or the size of a tennis ball

  • Salad dressing: Your thumb

8. Cheers

Drinking alcohol can add lots of calories to your meal so be smart if you want to enjoy a drink or two. Give yourself a limit and stick to it. If you’re trying to lose weight, then opt for 1-2 drinks. Sip it slowly, enjoy and move on.

Low Calorie Options (4 oz max/serving):

  • Sparkling wine: Prosecco (like Giuliana Prosecco :), Champagne

  • White wine: Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Riesling

  • Red wine: Merlot, Rosé, Rhone

  • Liquor: Rum, Brandy, Gin, Tequila (1-2 oz/serving)


Go out, enjoy the food, the people and the experience. Just make sure to be menu savvy!

Special Note: Be sure to check out my related 3-Part Haute Talks video series with Giuliana HERE NOW!

Karina Heinrich