How do you cope when you’re out and calorie values aren’t available?

goatelope Posts: 178 Member
Hey, just wondering how you manage eating out or being with friends, when the calorie counts aren’t always available?


  • chamberstracy614
    chamberstracy614 Posts: 5 Member
    I usually use MyFitnessPal and get a general count of each of the foods I’m eating. Remember to watch portion size as restaurants tend to give twice the portion size
  • DanyellMcGinnis
    DanyellMcGinnis Posts: 315 Member
    I just do my best. As a vegetarian, there's a little less to remember, but low(ish) calorie options include veggie fajitas (and you can control how much extra cheese, sour cream, and other junk you put on those), spaghetti with marinara sauce (though that can vary a lot, just look at Maggiano's), some salads (don't order the quesadilla explosion salad from Chili's though, that one is through the roof in calories), chana masala at Indian restaurants, etc. Then I pick reasonable database entries here and estimate my serving size. I usually only eat at one or two restaurants a week, and I bank calories for that, and I never end up getting close to my banked calories because they're usually like 1500 and I can't eat that much in one sitting, so I don't worry about it too much.
  • LyndaBSS
    LyndaBSS Posts: 6,964 Member
    You can ask the manager of the restaurant if they have the nutritional values.

    I would do the below and get values as close as possible.
    I usually use MyFitnessPal and get a general count of each of the foods I’m eating. Remember to watch portion size as restaurants tend to give twice the portion size

  • gallicinvasion
    gallicinvasion Posts: 1,015 Member
    And always log a tablespoon or two of cooking oil; restaurants tend to use more than people do when they cook at home
  • WinoGelato
    WinoGelato Posts: 13,454 Member
    I typically look in MFP for a chain restaurant with a similar menu item and log that, I find that helps err on the high side rather than trying to log individual components ingredients and not knowing how much butter or oil is used.

    I also bank cals when I know I’m going to be eating out, I look at the restaurant menu ahead of time and try to get a plan together of what I might order, prioritizing courses that sound better rather than just eating something thats in front of me. So I might get an appetizer instead of an entree if I really want dessert, for example.

    Also remember there wil likely be some water retention and a spike on the scale from high sodium but it’s usually temporary.
  • wilson10102018
    wilson10102018 Posts: 1,306 Member
    Don't order anything you can't make a good estimate of. If you use their salad dressing assume it is 123 calories per tablespoon - it probably is. Don't order fried rice. It can be healthy -300 calories per cup, but probably not - more like 800 calories per cup.
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,812 Member
    I find something close in the database, create my own recipe or do a quick add calories. Mostly it's the quick add option I go with.
  • goatelope
    goatelope Posts: 178 Member
    Excellent, thanks!
  • Katmary71
    Katmary71 Posts: 6,641 Member
    I usually choose baked chicken or fish and swap out the carbs for extra vegetables. I add calories for oils/butter. If I order salad, I get the dressing on the side.
  • TheRealSlim_Shelly
    TheRealSlim_Shelly Posts: 66 Member
    edited July 2019
    My response is going to be boring but honest. I almost always order a garden salad with grilled chicken and olive oil and vinegar on the side. It is one of the few options I can estimate the best. A garden salad is pretty much lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. so I don’t need to worry about accurately guessing the higher-calorie stuff - shredded cheese/bacon bits/avocado/croutons etc. I know what the general 4-6oz size of chicken breast looks like and I can use a spoon to measure “about” a TBS of olive oil.

    Other than that, I do actually try to find restaurants that list calories on their website, you’d be surprised at how many do now. I heard many of them drastically underestimate the calories, but I don’t frequent restaurants enough to worry about one meal, once every 5-6 months, deterring my progress. There are definitely ways of being more conservative with your cals - grilled chicken instead of breaded or fried, skip the cheese on sandwiches/burgers and skip meals described as “creamy”, skip the bun on a burger to save the cals, if you order steamed vegetables on the side, tell them steamed without butter. Ask your waiter politely if you have questions on how the food is prepared, that’s part of their job. And don’t be afraid to make a special request, like asking for sauce on the side instead of on top. Skip appetizers, bread/chip baskets, and eat half your entree if you’re really unsure.
  • seltzermint555
    seltzermint555 Posts: 10,742 Member
    edited July 2019
    I usually just get less food. In Mexican restaurants, I'll often choose an a la carte item (tamale or enchilada), and don't eat the chips & salsa. In many restaurants, I pick a veggie side like green beans or salad with whatever protein I've chosen...I'm not a low carb dieter or anything, but for me it's a good way to somewhat control my calorie intake, rather than having potatoes or pasta with my chicken/fish/shrimp. I almost never eat bread that comes with my meal (rolls, biscuits, etc).

    When I go to a local Southern style restaurant w/ family, I typically order dry pulled pork and collard greens. It's still a high calorie greasy meal but I'm eliminating heavy sauces, bread, and other troublesome items so logging it is a guess at best - but I'm confident it wasn't on the level of say, their creamy chicken & bacon Cajun-style pasta!

    Another go-to for me is a plain hamburger with low calorie toppings like pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion & mustard. It's very filling but I know it's not horribly high calorie and sometimes just do 1/2 bun as well (depending on what I've eaten that day).

    Sushi is another hard to log meal but I usually get a seaweed salad and miso soup and then eat a couple pieces of sashimi and/or a smaller roll that doesn't have sauce all over it. I'm not a small eater by any means but I have noticed some of my friends who don't usually eat a lot at once will go nuts on sushi and eat like 3-4 large rolls that are drenched in sauce. Also that gets so expensive!
  • lafayettenana
    lafayettenana Posts: 79 Member
    Great suggestions and I follow many of them. I'll review the menu online and chose ahead of time so I can pre-log my food for the day. If you drink alcohol - so many of the cocktails are high in calories so decide what you are going to have ahead of time. This week I met some friends for happy hour at a Mexican restaurant and ordered Skinny Margaritas - 100 calories vs. 350 (approx)
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 9,024 Member
    I am going to be a little bit devils advocate here - because while you can order only grilled chicken and plain garden salad - and if you like that, fine - I also think we want to enjoy going out for meals, not avoid everything we like because we can't estimate the amount or it isnt a low calorie meal

    I like eating out and no way I am having plain grilled chicken and salad every time - if I like curry or pasta or pizza or baked potatoe or whatever, I have it.
    (although generally not a large serve)

    and estimate from something similar in data base.

    Doesnt have to be prefect - as long as your results over time are as they should be.

    Allow for 'non perfect low calorie alternatives' and fit them in - that is my motto.
  • nooboots
    nooboots Posts: 480 Member
    I choose restaurant meals in the data base from chains I know and understand (so have an idea of their size and luxuriousness), or pick a ready meal from a good supermarket like waitrose or marks who dont skimp on things, then I double it. I try to overestimate where possible.

    I dont try to pick low calorie things either, Im do like my meals out so would feel hard done by if I had to scour the menu for lower calorie options.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,874 Member
    You could find something from another restaurant that is similar.

    I personally didn't and don't eat out that often so when I logged, it was just a one off here and there and I usually didn't bother. We get together with friends maybe once per month so I never really bothered with that either other than maybe eating lighter during the day knowing I was going to be drinking and eating at the BBQ or whatever.
  • grimendale
    grimendale Posts: 2,154 Member
    First stop is the ole Google to see if the restaurant has nutrition info posted online. If not, I'll look for another restaurant dish that's similar and log that, modified as needed for approximate portion size. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing. It's not a problem too terribly often, so the margin of error isn't enough to affect progress for me long term.
  • missysippy930
    missysippy930 Posts: 2,577 Member
    Estimate it as close as I can, and don’t sweat it for accuracy. I haven’t had a problem losing yet.
  • phred_52
    phred_52 Posts: 189 Member
    i reckon' with some it can be difficult. I also believe many that come here and do food loggings, you get an idea of what is ok, as in not having huge calories from fat. Salads are safe with FF or low fat dressing :) , with chicken strips.

    Or as missysippy930 said