following South Beach while eating out {Works for Me Wednesday}

Weight loss update: Yesterday (Monday) marked the end of the two weeks of Phase 1/beginning of Phase 2.  We were out of town so I didn’t weigh yesterday morning, but as of this morning I have lost 7 pounds!  Woo hoo!  I have been enjoying my gummy vitamins each morning and look forward to that pretty nail polish soon (not sure what I’m talking about?  read here).  I will be adding in strawberries this week as my first phase 2 food to incorporate back into my diet.

So…eating out.  For many people, this is a diet buster.  However, it’s also something that pops up frequently in our lives and can be hard to avoid.  Here are some tips and guidelines that I try to follow.

First, you might want to look into getting this book if you eat out quite frequently.


The South Beach Diet Dining Guide contains ideas of South Beach friendly meals at many popular restaurants, both fast food and sit down.  This is really nice if you’re still a little uncertain about all the South Beach principles – you can just look up a restaurant and it will give you several options of good, healthy meals.

Personally, I don’t use this book very much anymore.  I pretty much know what I need to eat at all my favorite restaurants and then I have a guideline that helps me if I go to a new restaurant.

My basic guideline goes something like this:

A salad with meat (chicken, shrimp, steak, salmon), dressing (usually ranch) and no croutons (or tortilla strips, fried onions, candied pecans, cranberries…).  Most other toppings (boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, cheese) are fine as well (many SB-ers will ask for no cheese since it’s probably not fat free but I usually go ahead and leave it on – I just like the taste too much!).  Remember that full fat dressing is fine – we want those good fats to help keep us full, and low fat dressing usually have added sugar to help them taste better.  However, you don’t need to eat the whole cereal bowl full of dressing that many restaurants serve alongside their salads – try to use just a little, 1 or 2 tablespoons.


A combination of meat (grilled chicken, fish, steak, grilled shrimp), a side salad (see above note about what to avoid), and a veggie side (asparagus, steamed veggies, or a sweet potato with no sugar (Phase 2) – I use Splenda if it needs it)

If you get one of these two things you should be pretty good to go.  No, restaurant food will not be nearly as healthy as fixing your own food at home, but you can still make a pretty good choice.

We went to Lexington to take care of our house and visit friends this past weekend.  We left Saturday night and came home Monday afternoon.  I ate out for supper Saturday night, lunch Sunday, supper Sunday, and lunch Monday – I followed the guidelines I listed above.  When we got home I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had lost weight over the course of those days, even with eating out as much as I did.

Here some ideas of what I get (or have noticed as good choices) at some of the restaurants that we frequent.

Cracker Barrel (believe it or not, pretty easy to follow SB here):

  • grilled chicken salad, no croutons or crackers, ranch dressing (they serve a TON of dressing, you don’t even need a fourth of it – use sparingly!)
  • grilled chicken dinner with acceptable sides – green beans, pinto beans, side salad, corn (if on phase 1)
  • coffee – I know this isn’t really a meal but Cracker Barrel has great coffee and I usually order some because it’s a treat that I don’t have often, it keeps my mouth busy before my meal comes so I’m not tempted to eat the biscuits/cornbread, and it tricks my body into thinking it gets dessert since I sweeten my coffee

These are just the things that I normally get at Cracker Barrel.  The whole back of the menu is devoted to low carb meals so they offer lots of options (although a cheeseburger with no bun but slathered in cheese and bacon is low carb but not really the best choice).

Also, there are a few breakfast options (SB acceptable breakfasts at restaurants are hard to come by) such as

  • an omelet – I’ve never actually seen this listed on the menu, but every time I’ve asked for it they have made me one so it doesn’t hurt to ask.  I usually get a Western omelet which has bacon, cheese, onions, peppers, and tomatoes
  • whole wheat toast – if you’re on Phase 2 and want some toast, Cracker Barrel has the option of whole wheat toast or sourdough toast – both are fine for Phase 2.  They also offer Promise spread as an alternative for butter, and sugar free jam/jellies.
  • turkey sausage – they offer turkey sausage as an alternative to regular sausage.  Sadly, they don’t offer turkey bacon (Cracker Barrel, if you’re reading this – I would love it if you would offer turkey bacon!)
  •  a meal idea if you are on phase 2 might be eggs, turkey sausage, and some whole wheat toast with sugar free jam/jelly
  • another idea if you are far down the line on phase two/three and want to indulge without too much guilt is to have the french toast made using whole wheat toast and then use sugar free syrup.  It’s still not the best choice since it’s several pieces of bread and I’m sure there’s sugar in the french toast batter stuff, but it’s a way to make it a teeny bit healthier.

Johnny Carino’s:

  • shrimp caesar salad, no croutons (a tip when you order caesar salad: ask for your dressing on the side – it’s usually already mixed up with the lettuce and sometimes there is way more dressing than needed – my salad this weekend was over saturated with dressing)

Texas Roadhouse:

  • grilled chicken salad, no croutons, easy on the dressing
  • bowl of chili and side salad


  • chicken breast with no skin/breading, green beans, corn (if on phase 2), no biscuit


  • chili and side salad


  • redrock grilled shrimp, side salad, substitute asparagus instead of the bed of rice

Off the top of my head, those are the first few restaurants that I can think of.  Some places are harder to find South Beach options than others – I find fast food, Mexican, Chinese/Japanese, and Italian to be the hardest.

Hopefully these guidelines and examples will help you make choices that are a little healthier next time you eat out.

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.


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