I am often asked ” How to eat out and stay low carb “ – here are my 5 top tips.

There are lists of the best meals to order when eating out with friends and how to make easy swaps to make most meals low-carb the easy way.

How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb with a list of the best meals to order when eating out with friends.  | ditchthecarbs.com

How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb

Eating out and remaining low carb can be easy if you follow these simple steps.

  1. Be prepared
  2. Avoid the sides
  3. Choose wisely
  4. Know your limits
  5. Choose your splurge

1: How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb => Be prepared

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Take a look at the restaurant menu before you head out. Knowing menu options will allow you to plan ahead and not make a quick decision only to regret it later.

Ask yourself –

  • Is there a meal that can be slightly adjusted to become low carb?
  • Are there savoury dishes without sweet sauces
  • Choose a simple meat dish with non starchy vegetables – steak with salad? Chicken Caesar salad? Bun-less burger with salad?
  • What is the “Special of the day”?

Avoid all dishes with sauces that might contain sugar or seed oils – sweet chilli sauce, BBQ, sweet’n’sour, hoisin, processed mayonnaise could be swapped for lemon, oil and vinegar

2: How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb => Avoid the side dishes

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Most meals can be made low carb by avoiding the sides because these items that are generally high in carbs.

Is bread your downfall? Simply politely request as you enter the restaurant, not to be served the bread basket they often bring to the table when you arrive.

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Are fries your enemy? Avoid deep fried food at all costs, they are fried in oxidised seed oils and are high carb. If a meal states it comes with fries, ask if they can swap them for a side salad. Most will oblige at no extra cost.

  • Going for curry? Avoid the naan, rice and the sweet chutneys.
  • Chinese? Avoid the sweet and sour sauces, prawn crackers, fried rice, and dumplings.
  • Mexican? Avoid the sweet chilli sauce, rice, beans and wraps.
  • Burgers? Avoid the bun and the fries.
  • Steak house? Order a grilled steak with melted blue cheese and salad, say no to the fries.

3: How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb => Choose wisely

Cooked steak with mushroom sauce in a jug

There are so many ways to choose wisely or adapt the menu to your liking.

  • Mexican restaurants – choose a naked burrito. It will have all the meat, salad, salsa and guacamole but without the wrap, rice, beans or tortilla crisps.
  • Buffets – navigate these wisely choosing meats, fish and salads avoiding the fried foods, sauces and pasta dishes
  • Caesar salads  – choose it without the croutons but ask for extra leafy greens and bacon instead
  • Indian restaurants – try to avoid the dishes that are heavily based on sauces. Creamy and tomato sauces are often packed with sugar and grains to thicken. Choose an authentic Indian restaurant. A tandoori chicken tikka masala can be completely different depending on if it is made with the traditional tandoori recipe rather than a westernised version. Tandoori chicken is marinated in yoghurt and spices, then cooked in a tandoor (clay oven).
  • Choose extra side vegetables or salad with olive oil instead of fries
  • Choose to pass on the bread (but keep the butter to add to your steamed vegetables rather than a sauce with hidden sugars)
  • Grilled steak with melted blue cheese and salad not fries
  • Open steak sandwiches, just don’t eat the bread
  • Bun-less burgers and salad – most fast food chains now offer this as a standard option
  • Seared tuna, salmon, steak or chicken with a side salad
  • Double egg benedict without the bagels and double the sauce

4: How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb => Know your limits

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Before ordering look around you at the size of the meals as they are being served. Are they too big? Will you eat it all regardless of your hunger?

Order an appetiser/starter instead, and add some extra vegetables.

If a meal is put in front of you that is too big, eat half and make a conscious decision to eat no more. Why not ask to take the other half home, then you have a meal for tomorrow – win win.

What about ordering a sharing platter between friends, then allow them eat more than you so you can subtly limit your meal size to your new low-carb reduced appetite.

5: How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb => Choose your splurge

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Decide if you want to have a splurge before you go. Will it be wine? A dessert? Side dish? A particular starter? Latte? Rice? Sauces?

If you do splurge, choose one only. And limit the splurge.

Instead of a dessert, why not share a cheese platter without the bread or crackers?

If this is your special meal out with friends and you have been extra careful with your carbs all week, don’t ruin your progress in one night. Why not ask for a half portion of rice? Share a dessert with a friend?

Low-Carb Eating Out – Be Kind To Yourself 

If the evening didn’t go as planned and you overindulged, don’t be too hard on yourself, we want to finally get rid of the association with guilt and food that most of us have grown up with.

Think about how you could handle the situation differently next time and get right back on track with the next meal. You may wish to begin an intermittent fastfollowing an overindulgent evening.

And finally, remember to enjoy the company you are with, the friendship, the laughter. Dining out is so much more than food.

How To Eat Out And Stay Low-Carb with a list of the best meals to order when eating out with friends.  | ditchthecarbs.com


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  1. Rich Rosenfeld says:

    Some places will allow avocado slices in place of carb-filled sides. Also, ordering ala carte can often save all of the carbs and much of the cost as well. If a Chinese restaurant has a Three Treasures soup (chicken, shrimp, scalops in broth), they will often take out the corn and carrots. In-N-Out has Protein Style burgers, wrapped in lettuce leaves; I get mine mustard fried with grilled onions without the “spread,” to avoid the sugar. Outback has grass-fed burgers, which can come without the bun. Salad dressings are a challenge for those of us who are serious about Omega 6 reduction; even bleu cheese dressings have vegetable oil in them. The trick is to have fun being creative, without being curmudgeonly nor judgmental.

    1. Awesome suggestions. I didn’t know about the Three Treasures Soup – and your tips for burgers and dressings. Yes, being creative is required, and fun!

  2. It is actually quite easy to do.I have lived a very low carb lifestyle for 12 years and eat out quite often as well as travel.I make sure I have some portable,low carb foods with me such as cheese,nuts or protein bars.This way I always have something to eat or add to a small selection,or to substitute for dessert.It is VERY doable and it is rewarding to take charge of your health.It becomes second nature after a while.when you start seeing the benefits it will no longer bother you that you are giving up certain foods.

  3. I always order steak, salad and steamed broccoli! Tasty and fills me up.

  4. Great information here and I love the topic. Eating is such an important way to connect socially and it’s enjoyable too. It’s also not practical to assume you’re going to be able to cook every single meal at home – some flexibility is critical.

  5. i’m having trouble choosing breakfast foods low in carbs!! any suggestions? i’m new at this. only 8 days in

      1. DONNA G ELLIOTT says:

        Great suggestions!!!