If you're watching your calories or trying to eat more veggies, restaurant meals can be tricky. Many restaurants offer dishes filled with heavy cream, butter, and sugar — not exactly the best choice if you’re watching your weight or want to eat healthier. Luckily, there are some ways to lighten up those restaurant meals without skimping on the flavor. By making simple substitutions at restaurants, you can transform that calorie-heavy feast into a healthy meal. From swapping out fat for fruit to requesting no sauce or carbs instead of fries, here are some easy tips for getting a healthier meal when eating out.

Easy Substitutions to Make Dining Out on Weight Watchers Even Easier!

how to make substitutions are restaurants for weight watchers

One of the greatest things about weight watchers is that there are no restrictions on what or where you can eat. The point system allows you to make choices about what you're eating and keep you accountable for it. Really craving a cheeseburger? Cool! Enjoy it and track your points. Want to go out drinking with your friends? Keep track of your points! However, it's understandable that you still want to make healthier choices when you go out to eat.

  • Skip The “Free” Starter

If you are going out to a restaurant that serves up fresh bread or chips and salsa as soon as you sit down, you can simply ask your server not to bring it to your table. Chances are, if it's on the table, you'll mindlessly start snacking while waiting for your meal, adding up unnecessary calories before your meal.

  • Go For Leafy Greens

Whenever possible, look for ways to add leafy greens to your meal. Whether that's adding a side salad or choosing spinach as your side dish, adding greens is a great way to bulk up your meal without adding a bunch of points! With the new PersonalPoints plan, you are actually earning points for every cup on non starchy vegetables that you eat, which means adding greens is a great way to give you some wiggle room to order the meal that you really want. (like the baked potato with butter and sour cream… right?) In fact, since you skipped the free starter, order a salad as your appetizer! The fiber from your salad will alleviate your hunger and allow you to make better choices for the rest of the meal.

  • Go for broth based soups over cream based

If you want to enjoy a nice comforting bowl of soup, look for one that is made from broth instead of cream. Having a bowl of soup with lots of veggies and lean meat like chicken is both nutritious and satisfying. Even better: Choose soup and salad for your main course, and you'll have a satisfying meal that's low in calories.

  • Choose appetizers as your main meal

It is common for restaurants to include seafood or vegetable-based appetizers on their menus that can make for a healthy meal option. Plus, appetizers are usually smaller portion sizes which means you may even order more than one to enjoy!

  • Order a grilled dish instead of fried

If you’re craving something like chicken wings or shrimp, ask for a grilled or blackened version instead. In most cases, the grilled version will have more flavor from the seasonings than it's fried counterpart. You may find that you enjoy this more!

  • Ask for extra veggies instead of starchy sides

If the sides are the problem, you can request a side of extra veggies instead. Just be sure to ask how they are prepared, veggies cooked in butter will still have points.

  • Ask for sauces and dressing on the side and use just a spoonful

If you’re having a salad, you can request dressing on the side so you can control how much you use. As an alternative, you can also bring small packets of your favorite dressing with you to use instead! As for sauces, order it on the side so that you can dip your fork into it to use less with each bite.

  • Drink water instead of sodas or cocktails

When you drink water, it can actually help satisfy your hunger to a degree. Plus, it keeps you hydrated without the extra calories or sugar! Add a squeeze of lemon or lime for a refreshing flavor infusion.

You Can Do This!

Restaurant meals can be healthy if you know how to modify them for your needs. However, remember that you can still enjoy all of your favorite things in moderation. Make choices based on what points you have available. If you do decide to grab something higher in points, just track it and continue on with your plan. With weight watchers, there's no guilt in eating the things you love, it's learning how to do it the right way.

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