Be a Picky Eater – Order “On the Side”

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on May 27, 2009

on the sideEating out is the best – great food, good company, fun times. But for a lot of people – eating out can be a “danger zone” because of all the hidden calories that come with the added oils, dressings, spreads, sides, etc. in restaurant meals. And many people aren’t “picky” about the way they order their restaurant dishes – for fear of being annoying or sounding picky! 

My philosophy is – you can enjoy restaurant food so much more if you’re eating it guilt-free. And the best way to do that is to BE PICKY when you order! The waiter is there to help you customize your meal to your liking. The restaurant is there to serve you! So you shouldn’t feel any shame in giving your personal specifications for your order. Now, there is a line, think “When Harry met Sally” – but overall being picky at restaurants is the way to go!

I’ve found that a few tips help when ordering:

  • Add some humor into it. If you’re ordering something with like 3 things on the side, laugh a little and be self-deprecating about it. The waiter will appreciate the acknowledgement and shouldn’t give you any problems
  • Preface your order with “so I have a few things I’d like to modify” and go through them slowly so the waiter doesn’t get annoyed with you
  • It’s likely that you’ll be out with good friends so you won’t have to explain yourself to the people around you – but if you do – make a joke about how you’re …. you guessed it…. picky! And everyone will have a good laugh. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about 🙂

One of my favorite restaurant tips is getting things on the side:

  • Ordering salad? All dressings, oils, on the side – you can always dip your fork in the dressing lightly and eat your salad – you’ll save tons of calories that way!
  • Ordering a sandwich? Get it dry (no mayo, no pesto spreads, no olive tapenade, no oils, no vinegar). Order whatever condiments you want on the side and spread a very light layer on your sandwich when you order it – chances are you’ll put way less than the restaurant does and save calories
  • Ordering breakfast items? Syrup, butter, fruit compotes on the side please!
  • Ordering Italian? Usually tomato sauces are ok – but just check to make sure they don’t drizzle olive on top as well – if they do – omit it or ask for the sauce separately. Same thing with alfredo or cream sauces – the rule of thumb is to stay away, but if you have a craving – get it on the side and add as little as possible to your pasta to get the flavor without drenching the noodles in sauce!
  • Ordering Mexican? Sour cream and guac on the side – restaurants ALWAYS put way too much
  • Ordering Thai? Usually I’ll get a stir fry and ask for VERY little oil, soft tofu (NOT fried), and make sure the sauce is basically soy sauce with spices. If the sauce is oil based or curry based, I’ll ask for it on the side!

Anyway – I think you get the idea 🙂 Try this out the next time you go out to eat! I assure you it’s very easy to do and once you get used to it – almost becomes second nature! Let me know how this tip works out for you and if you have any thoughts! Happy eating!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy May 27, 2009 at 12:34 am

Thanks for the tips. We do some of the same things. You are right about them putting mounds of Guac and sour cream on your food.

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anjalim May 28, 2009 at 12:33 am

Haha I know right? Glad we share the same food “philosophy” 🙂 Love your blog btw!

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HappyTummy May 28, 2009 at 10:24 am

this is brilliant–love it! i do most of these things, but one thing you mentioned i’d never thought about–asking for soft tofu instead of fried. that makes total sense. reminds me of another substitution i usually ask for–when ordering mexican, i always ask for corn tortillas instead of flour. you save so many calories that way.

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anjalim May 28, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Glad it was helpful! 🙂 Ohhh – and yes absolutely – corn tortillas instead of flour. Great point!

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Shabnam October 14, 2013 at 5:05 am

I love your idea. thanks a lot.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 15, 2013 at 1:12 am

Thanks!! Hope it helps!

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