Surviving the Social Dinner

Article written by Gloria Cabrera.

So your friends want to catch up over dinner (or lunch) and you would really like to go except you are worried that you will stray from your diet. What is worse is that when you have caught up in the past, your catch up meal didn’t just include mains but usually had a starter and dessert too! What is one to do?

When amongst good company, indulging can happen. We know how difficult it is to keep your resolve despite your best intentions so we have come up with a few tips to help keep you on track!

Be prepared!

  • Decide whether you will be sticking to your diet completely, partially or not at all before the evening. Having made this decision in advance may help you keep your resolve as well as make your dining experience more enjoyable.
  • Acknowledge that there will be tempting foods and think about possible solutions in advance.
  • Find out which restaurant you will be dining at and call in advance to ask for a menu or to speak about your dietary requirements
  • Ask your friends whether you can choose the restaurant, and choose one that will have food options for you as well as options for your friends.
  • Don’t arrive starving! You will be more tempted to eat foods that you are trying to avoid. Drink some water, have a fruit or simply a cup of tea before you head out.

General Guidelines

  • If possible sit next to someone who you know will be a good influence on you! No point on sitting with someone who will encourage you NOT to resist if you are resolving to be strong.
  • Socialise, you will have less time to dwell on eating!
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Restaurants tend to serve large main meals, so share your main or opt for 2 starters or a salad.
  • Ask for sauces and dressings to be served separately. That way, you can control how much you add. Lemon or vinegar are great dressings for salads and are virtually kilojoule free!
  • Avoid rich sauces based on cream, cheese and butter. Instead, choose pepper, herb, spice or tomato based sauces.
  • Limit carbohydrate rich foods like breads, rice, pasta and potatoes. If you cannot resist, choose wholegrain breads, whole wheat pasta or brown rice, have small portion sizes or share.
  • Drink adequate fluids.
  • If there’s too much food, don’t be tempted to eat it all. Doggy bag it!


When it comes to the various starter, main and dessert options on a menu, it can be hard to know which to choose. Below are some tips!

Entrées or Sides

These come in both healthy and unhealthy varieties, here are some healthier options:

  • Choose a soup as a entrée. The fluid can help fill you up.
  • Choose steamed vegetables or a salad and ask for lemon juice or vinegar to dress it with.
  • Choose grilled, roasted or baked vegetables. Note – these can sometimes have quite a bit of oil used in cooking.


Ensure you consume protein at your main meal. This will help fill you up, here are some good options:

  • Choose grilled chicken or fish with salad or steamed vegetables.
  • Choose barbequed steak, chicken, seafood with salad or steamed vegetables
  • Choose a stir-fry with meat, chicken, tofu, seafood and vegetables in soy, chilli and basil or ginger sauces.
  • Meat, chicken, seafood and roasted vegetables
  • Meat, chicken, seafood in a vegetable and or tomato casserole type of sauce
  • Choose an egg and vegetable omelette with a salad. Note: if cheese or cream is added to the omelette this will increase the kilojoules.


If you can’t resist….

  • Choose fresh fruit
  • Have a scoop of gelato
  • Choose a smaller dessert
  • Have a hot beverage such as a hot chocolate or a latte on fat-free milk
  • Still tempted for that chocolate brownie? Sharing is caring!
  • Or simply have a healthier option prepared at home so you have something to look forward to – it may just help you resist!
2017-01-20T09:42:54+00:00 Tips and Suggestions|