Eating Out With a Trim Healthy Mama!

I am a Drive-Thru Sue as described in the Trim Healthy Mama Book.   I was more of a Sue when I started THM than I am  now!  Trim Healthy Mama has done more than help me shed pounds, it’s helped me enjoy the kitchen more too!  My husband is even worse than I am!  He’s a Drive-Thru Drew or whatever you’d want to name him.   He enjoys eating out so, we do go out on Friday nights and usually once on a Sunday.  I hear the desperate cries from new Trim Healthy Mama’s as they are going out to dinner for the first few weeks. ” What can I eat at______?”  After being on many plans before THM, I always found it difficult to eat out but, not anymore!   Everyone is different but, here is what my game plan has been!

  • Protein- steak, chicken breast, bacon, eggs, roast, pork chops, fish, etc. (NON-breaded meats)
  • Veggies- salad, green beans, broccoli, mixed vegetables, cabbage, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes (Not deep fried foods)
  • Soups- vegetable soup, stews, black beans soup (skip around the potatoes, white rice and pasta)
  • Grains- Brown rice

Empty plate with fork and knife.

Steakhouse/American Food:  If I am going to a nice steakhouse for example, I can find so may choices to enjoy!  I often get a nice 6 ounce steak, side salad(no croutons) with some creamy ranch dressing and some green beans.  This is my go-to meal!  Skip those carb filled rolls and the appetizers full of breading!  I remember thinking early on that some Fried Greens Beans, Cheese Sticks or Bloomin’ Onion were all “kinda” on plan!!  No, no they are not!  The breading on those appetizers are very off plan and FULL of carbohydrates.  The same goes for chicken chunks or wings with tons of breading on them.   I have at times pulled breading off when I needed too.  Also, watch those peanuts!  At our steakhouse they have a bucket of peanuts to munch on.  Peanuts are hard for me to say no to and I often eat way too many!  I sometimes count out a few peanuts and push the bucket aside.  The carbs can add up quickly before your meal even hits the table!  So, pick a meat that you enjoy that is non-breaded and keep the BBQ sauce in the kitchen! Non-starchy veggies area always yummy with some butter on top!  For a nice E meal you can often have some chicken breast, a plain sweet potato and some salad with a low fat dressing..HOLD the cheese!  I find it a bit harder to eat out E style so I opt for S meals when I’m out for dinner.

Wing Joints:  Wings are another favorite of my family!  We have a place that has a .35 cent wing night and we sometimes go there for a special treat mid-week.  They have non-breaded wings!  YES!  I enjoy my wings with a side of ranch and celery!(S)  I often order a side salad to go with my wings to get in some great veggies.  We frequent a restaurant on Friday nights that has chicken chunks as well.  They lightly bread their chunks and for months on the plan I’d eaten them that way.  I asked one night if they would consider leaving the breading off and they were happy to do so!  They told me they were called Naked Chunks!  Who knew!?  So, now I get my Half-pound of naked chunks with some buffalo sauce on them and a side a ranch dressing.  Happy girl, I tell ya! ASK!!!  Many restaurants are very helpful to those with special dietary needs.  I tell them I am on a low-glycemic diet and they are very accommodating!  They want your return business!

Mexican Food:  I hear folks tell me all the time that they can’t eat out at Mexican places anymore.  We do!  There are a few meals that I really enjoy on THM!  I love fajitas!!!  I often order my same old chicken fajitas with a side of sour cream and guacamole!  Instead of the rice and beans, I get salad!  I pour some salsa on my salad as well as some ranch.  YUMMY!  I have also ordered some chicken dishes before that come with onions and green peppers.  They pour some queso cheese on top.  It’s some good eats!  Guess what’s in  my purse??  Yes, it’s a low carb tortilla.  I take one along with me sometimes.  I enjoy dipping it in queso cheese dip like my kids do with the regular tortillas.  I don’t feel odd bringing some in to the restaurant at all!    Some places do have brown rice!  I have eaten some brown rice a few times with my meal and made it an S Helper or a Crossover.  I don’t do this too often since I want to lose.  You could even enjoy some chicken breast, salsa, a little brown rice and some re-fried beans for a nice E meal.  Leave those chips alone!

Japanese Steakhouse:  On a rare occasion my boys enjoy dinner and  a show!   It’s NOT impossible to eat at a Japanese steakhouse!  I enjoy some egg drop soup and a salad with ranch to start.  I steer clear of the ginger dressing as it has sugar in it.  I also split a meal with one of my boys!  They eat the rice and noodles while I eat the steak/chicken and veggies!  It works for both of us.

Italian/Pasta:  Olive Garden is my oldest sons favorite place to eat. I avoided it for a while thinking there wasn’t much that I could enjoy.  Man was I wrong!  They have salmon, chicken and steak!  I often eat a salad with no croutons.  SKIP those bread-sticks!  I know they smell good but, you can do it!  I love their Mixed Grill!  It is yummy meat and veggies on a skewer.  I ask for no potatoes with mine.  I get broccoli instead, with a side a Alfredo sauce.  That is some good stuff right there!!  If you like asparagus, that is another lovely side dish!  I now enjoy eating at “OG” again and have great options to choose from!

Fast Food:  On the go?  I can’t name every place I’ve eaten at but, my hubby travels from time to time so we’ve eaten out on the road often.  Here are a few of the places we go too and what I’d eat.

Wendy’s:  Double cheeseburger with mayo, slice of tomato, onion and bacon.  They put it in a nice container so I can eat it with a fork!  I also get a side Cesar salad with no croutons.(S)   For an E style lunch you could enjoy a small chili and a side salad with some low fat dressing!

McDonald’s:  I don’t love to eat there too often but, in the morning I have gotten eggs and bacon on a platter for breakfast!  For lunch I have gotten a salad as well with chicken breast on top.

Chic-Fil-A:  I get grilled chicken chunks!  YUM!!  I use the buffalo sauce with mine.  I also get a salad as my side dish with the avocado ranch dressing.  Maybe not a purist choice but, I’m a Drive-Thru Sue!     You could get a grilled chicken sandwich with no bun as well.  They have some great salad choices!!  Just watch your toppings!  I love their unsweetened tea!  Just take along your own Truvia packets!

Subway:  I enjoy the double chicken chopped salad at Subway!  I love to pile on the veggies!!  They also have nice ranch dressing to add on top.  This salad is massive and you will no go hungry!!   Some also get a 6 inch sub on wheat for an E option.  Choose lean  meats, veggies and a light dressing or mustard!

Chipotle:  They have wonderful salad bowls.  You can make them an S or an E with toppings!  Hamburger, cheese, sour cream and guac are great on an S salad.  Some brown rice, chicken breast, beans and veggies can make a nice E.  Keep those fats away in your E meals!  1 tsp is the goal.  It’s a restaurant that you can easily go either way!  Just say NO to the chips and tortillas!

Panera Bread:  I (heart) Panera.  I just went their today with my boys and my Granny.  I get a wonderful Deep S salad called the Mediterranean Chicken Salad.  It has some super yummy olive oil you can put on it with some lemon.  It has chicken breast, a boiled egg, spinach, bacon, lettuce and tomato.  It’s large and filling!!  It’s my go-to at Panera.  Many love their black bean soup for an E lunch.  I’d suggest you stay away from the breads.  Even the sourdough bread is not fermented enough to fit the plan.  I know it can be tough but, I pass it on to my kiddos!

Pizza Hut:  I know some may love it but, I sure don’t!  My hubby and boys do enjoy their pizza.  If I go along, I order wings!  They have non-breaded wings and a good salad bar.  If you like their pizza you can always swipe some of the families toppings to enjoy!  My son takes off the cheese and pepperonis…crazy, I know!  So, if we are at other pizza places, I’d enjoy those. Even pizza places have choices!  Some will even let you have a pizza in a bowl!  I’ve done that as well. All the normal topping you love, baked in a bowl! ASK!!

Tips:  Take along packets of sweetener in your purse!  I also take a Joseph’s Pita with me for a burger place or low carb tortillas for Mexican food.

Well, I can’t name every restaurant to you!  These are just a few of my favorites or favorites of my family.   Don’t be afraid to ask  the waiter or manager if you have a special request or need.  They aren’t bothered by you, they want to give you great service!  I am never hungry on Trim Healthy Mama!  Hopefully this will give you some ideas for eating out.  This is not an all inclusive list!

Join me on Facebook:  Home With a Purpose- Jennifer Griffin

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Eating Out With a Trim Healthy Mama! — 63 Comments

  1. Great ideas Jen! At Red Lobster once I got chicken alfredo and asked them to put it on a bed of broccoli instead of pasta. They thought it was a little odd, but it was delicious, and hopefully on plan!

  2. Thank you!!! I really needed this. I am also a DTS, and really need to retrain my brain. I am reading Candace Cameron Bure’s “Reshaping It All” and she offers some good Christian advice on the very thing I struggle with: motivation! 🙂

    • I’ve not read the book but, I’ve heard of it. 🙂 Glad I could help a fellow DTS!

  3. As a flight attendant who wants to be trim and healthy on the go (every-single-day)… I rely fully on restaurants for my meals. Aside from taking protein powder along in my suitcase I can’t bring much with me (especially with customs issues). So I have pulled my hair out trying to come up with a list of things I actually can eat on this plan and guess what???? You just helped me so much. Can I add a couple things?
    Berries and whipped cream for dessert, a glass of dry red wine and a couple slices of cheese, breakfast burrito in a bowl over lettuce (no carb), McDonalds club salads are very filling and yummy, lobster (any seafood) bisque soups, seltzer water with a slice of lemon, orange, or lime, eggs Benedict over avocado and bacon and lettuce instead of the English muffin, many diners will even replace your fries with cottage cheese and tomato slices. 🙂 happy traveling– happy living!!

    • Joseph’s lavash bread is SUPER thin and the package and keeps a surprisingly long time. You may find you can stow a package (or just several half-pieces) of this in your suitcase. Thanks for your additional great ideas.

      Jennifer, you are the BEST! This kind of practical help is great, especially when one has a hubby that is NOT on board and doesn’t choose a restaurant by its THM-friendliness 🙂

  4. Jennifer thank you! I just started THM and feel very overwhelmed at times. I like being able to go out to eat because my schedule lends itself to that with working full time and taking full time graduate classes. Thank you so much! I am bookmarking this on my phone so that when I do find myself in a pinch, I don’t have to go off plan. <3

  5. Such a wonderful resource Jennifer-you give me hope that I don’t have to cook EVERY night! Mama needs a night off every now and then. 😉

  6. Wonderful ideas to look at all the GOOD we can have instead of
    What we can’t have!!! Be creative and make it a GOOD day!

  7. Great stuff, Jen! 🙂

    My favorite are:
    Tokyo Joe’s:
    white meat chicken bowl with brown rice, double veggies, & their new Stevi-aki sauce. (E)

    Salad (no dressing), with chicken, (no rice or beans), grilled veggies, mild and medium salsas, sour cream, chsese, and guacamole. (S)

    Chicken fajias, & all the fixin’s (give the tortillas to.the kids). I get a side of sauteed mushrooms, too. 🙂
    When I’m really thinking ahead I microwave cut up Joseph’s lavash chips for a couple minutes in the microwave & bag them in my purse. I thoroughly enjoy the guacamole & salsa.

  8. Thank you so much for all your recipes and this post!!! I was having a bad day and I wanted something to eat out, a comfort thing for me. I stopped at Steak and Shake and got a bunless burger and a side salad because of the info you shared here. Got me back on plan and feeling better!!

    • I haven’t eaten at Steak and Shake in a while but, they have some great choices! 🙂

  9. I’m a little confused: I keep hearing that THM is not a low carb plan, but these all sound low carb meals?

    • I find it much easier to eat lower carb foods when I am out to eat. I gave some options for “E” meals as well which are a bit higher in carbs. This is not an Atkins type diet but, a low glycemic way of eating.

      • Probably the biggest reason that we all choose S style (low carb) meals when we are eating out is because you have no control or usually any information about how much fat they use to cook the LEAN meats. Great choices Jennifer, thanks for the tips!!

        • Very true!! I have no idea what oils or what all is going into cooking the foods. It’s just easier to go S meal. 🙂

  10. At Panera, instead of the bread you can get chips or an apple. Opt for an apple and enjoy it later as an E snack.

    Also, at many Mexican places they have fajita chicken or steak salads, makes it easy to eat on plan.

  11. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Jennifer! I will be printing off this post and putting it in my THM binder and a second copy for my purse. Even though I myself have done some of the options you mentioned, there’s just something revolutionary about it being printed out, it’s like having a game plan. There were several places that you mentioned however, that I have never eaten at or even thought of as being doable. Also, I am not sure if there is a Five Guys restaurant in your area, but what would be anyone’s thoughts on that? Is it on plan friendly in any way?

    • I do have a Five Guys but, have only been there once. I think my friend Jessica get their hamburgers wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun! That’s a good S option! 🙂

      • Five Guys is VERY FRIENDLY to THM! They offer their burgers two ways- in a bowl or wrapped in lettuce. You can still add all of the good stuff- I had a cheeseburger with grilled jalapeños, grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato and mayo on the side. It was seriously better than on the bun and I was full for the rest of the day.

        • I have eaten at Five Guys also. That was the only time I have been asked if I was leaving the bun off due to allergies. I said no, it’s just a choice I’m making. They wanted to know to make it easier on the cook. If it’s due to allergies, the cook has to change out their gloves, and completely wipe down the prep area.

  12. Thank You! Now that our children are all out of the house it has been a norm for us to eat out at least once a week. This has helped a lot! Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. Great list! A couple of questions on menu items you mentioned. 1) Ranch dressing. I figured most have sugar, what do you think? 2) Refried beans. Aren’t these generally going to contain too much fat for “E” meals? Thanks.

    • I choose Ranch or olive oil/lemon when I’m out to eat! It’s the safest bet on not having sugar. Refried beans are on plan in an E setting. I normally eat out S style just so I don’t chance a Crossover. I never know how the kitchen cooks the beans or other foods. I stick with an S so that it doesn’t matter so much. So, the refrieds are an E but, it’s up to you to take a shot on the E meal while out. I have done a Crossover meal a few times at Mexican restaurants with beans added to my S meals.

    • I buy Joseph’s at Super Walmart in the deli area! I’ve not seen chips but, many make chips out of their Joseph’s pitas by microwaving them for a bit til they are crisp. You can get them online as well.

      I also would suggest Fit & Active Flatbread in the Flax variety from Aldi’s in the place of Lavish bread. That’s another option. 🙂

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  15. Such great info here, Jennifer! We don’t eat out much at all, but I have been to Chipotles and LOVE their stuff!!!

  16. Wow!! Thank you Jennifer. My son plays homeschool basketball and we are away from home a lot this season which means we are also eating out a lot, mostly at fast food restaurants. I have been struggling to stay on plan this season. Your ideas are great! They are simple and effective. I just had a “Duh, why didn’t I think of that” moment. 🙂 Thank you!!

  17. Thank you for all the great ideas! I’m just getting started with THM, but my family likes to eat out, probably way too much. I hope to spend more time cooking once the holidays wrap up and we aren’t so busy. Thanks, again!

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  20. Great ideas!! Our favorite place to eat as a family is Culver’s. I like to get the garden fresco salad with a cheddar butterburger patty on top. With blue cheese dressing, it’s soo good!
    Also, The Golden Corral is a good place to eat E. They have rotisserie chicken breast, sweet potatoes, and all kinds of different veggies.

  21. If you have a which wich around where you live. You have got to try their bowl-wich. It is the best salad ever. I get the wicked bowl-wich. 5 meats, 3 cheeses with spinach and onion. Their salad dressings aren’t the best but this salad doesn’t need any.

  22. Also, at Panera you can ask them to substitute an apple rather than the bread with your salad.

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  24. I know this is an older post, but I wanted to say thanks to you and all the other readers for sharing ideas on what to eat while dining out. We dine out a lot…like…a lot. It’s embarrassing how frequently we grab food to go, but that’s the way it is. It’s mostly during working hours – it’s much more appealing to try a different restaurant each day than thinking of what to pack for lunch! Plus, we walk when we go to lunch, so it’s a time to get away from our desks and take a mental break.

    The things you all have listed are all things I LOVE to eat, I just never think about ordering things like this during the lunch hour – it’s mostly when we go out for dinner or on the weekends.

    I can TOTALLY do this…I have renewed hope! 🙂 Thank you all!

  25. We don’t eat out a whole lot, so this isn’t a struggle for me. What I have a hard time with is, as a DTS, finding things at the store. I use the Josephs products & baked Tostito scoops, but I would like know of things such as cookies, chips or crackers that we can buy off the shelves to help with those cravings, cause I sure don’t want to make them at home!

    • Hi Patti,

      You can buy those Wasa Light Rye crackers. I also like the new Whisps that I’ve found at a few groceries. They are all parmesan cheese. We buy pork rinds that help with that missing crunch if you like those. Cookies….I haven’t heard of any on plan. There are some Quest bars out there at places like GNC, but I don’t care for those. Maybe you’d like them. 🙂

  26. Thank you so much for this post! I’m new to THM and will be gone most of the day. I have some snacks, but was having an anxiety attack over lunch. Your post has given me so many options. 🙂

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  28. Someone reposted this is one of the THM groups today and since it is NYE I’m so glad they did. I’m recommitting but was having a hard time when out to eat. This is good, solid info. Thanks!

  29. I eat out all the time. I’ll do so good eating protein and veggies till the end of the meal and breakdown and eat their desets they offer. Willpower is lacking :-/