It’s patio season and this means that you’ll most likely be out enjoying cocktails and meals with your friends and family while the warmer weather is here. It can be difficult to eat out while maintaining good health as restaurants serve many food and beverage items that are laden with hidden calories. Here are my top ten tips for eating out and eating well this summer.

1. Choose your restaurant carefully.

Most restaurants post menu and nutrition information on line. Read the menu and keep an eye out for restaurants that use fresh, local ingredients and offer more than deep fried and creamy concoctions. Avoid restaurants that are notorious for large portions and be careful with buffets and ‘all you can eat’ establishments.

2. Sharing is caring.

Most menu items are large enough to be shared amongst friends. This way, you can indulge in those sweet potato fries without the guilt.

3. Start with a healthy appetizer.

Choose the soup or salad here. Studies show that if you have an appetizer, you are less likely to overindulge during your main meal.

4. Eat (something small) before heading to the restaurant.

It won’t ruin your appetite, however, you will order smarter and eat less. A simple snack of fruit, healthy protein bar, nuts or yogurt will tide you over until you get to the restaurant.

5. Have the sauce on the side.

Sauces and dressings contain the flavour but they also contain the calories which are often derived from sugar and unhealthy, processed oils. Choose extra virgin olive oil and vinegar for dressings whenever you can. The olive oil will satisfy your appetite and help extract the nutrients from your vegetables.

6. Don’t blame it on the alcohol!

Limit your drinks. Alcohol can be full of empty calories. Enjoy your cocktail with your meal and remember to drink water with lemon in between to maintain good hydration levels.

7. Stay hydrated.

Hunger is often mistaken for thirst. To prevent overindulging at your meal, drink water with lemon from the moment you sit down at the table. Water with lemon will quench your thirst and this strategy will help you to eat less.

8. Avoid the platters and combos

Try to order a la carte items whenever possible. Remember, your stomach is approximately the size of your fist and it will expand to accommodate the size of your meal.

9. Practice mindful eating.

Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more aware of your thoughts, emotions and the sensations that you experience in the present moment. This awareness allows you to slow down your eating and to gain more satisfaction out of your culinary experience.

10. Remember the 20 minute rule.

It takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal that your stomach is full. Therefore, chew your meal slowly, enjoy the conversation and take small sips of water in between bites. Chew each morsel of your food until the contents are mushy before swallowing. As unappetizing as it sounds, your digestion and waist-line will thank you later.


About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -