10 top tips for a healthy weight when eating out


Whether you’re trying to lose weight, have lost weight and want to keep it off, or avoiding the inevitable scale creep, a few good strategies make it easy to still succeed while enjoying meals away from home with friends.

It’s all about sharing, ordering the right amount, and staying aware of how satisfied you’re feeling…

1. Choose a menu that is easily shared

Asian, Middle-Eastern, Latin American cuisines and some European dishes are traditionally shared and lend themselves particularly well to meals for groups.

Many more contemporary and fusion restaurant menus are now also planned around dishes that are designed to be shared.


…..And choose dishes that can easily be shared

Often staff will be a great help when picking dishes that use smaller pieces or can easily be divided. Avoid single pieces (like poultry legs or whole seafood) useless there’s just a couple/few of you (and you perhaps know each other well).


Be aware of how many individual pieces are in the dish, e.g eggplant slices/ prawns/ spring rolls/ duck pancakes. You may need to order 1 1/2 or 2 serves.

The banquet menu can be a good source of ideas but is not a good option in itself (see tip No. 4).

2. Ask for what you need (e.g. whether dishes can be ordered in 1 1/2 serves or cut into extra serves in the kitchen, come with extra bread) including extra bowls, plates and serving cutlery

Restaurant staff are usually more than happy to try to accommodate your needs, if they can. And if you don’t ask….


Pho Quoc’s Rare Beef Pho


Meccabah’s soup

……And consider halving individual items at the table

I know this can get messy, and it doesn’t always work, but tasting platters for two, can become tasting platters for four with just a quick skilled knife manoeuvre.


Punjabi Hut’s shared entree platter

3. Aim for a larger range of smaller taste experiences

It can be much more rewarding to try a number of different foods in smaller amounts than to be just limited to one or two dishes, that may or may not be so good. Eat mindfully and savour each mouthful to gain maximum pleasure from each, without getting overfull.

By sharing dishes you are well on the way to a whole range of tastes, but sharing plates and platters can really be your friend here too.


Pistachio’s dessert tasting platter


Tilba Wines ploughman’s lunch


Jamie’s Italian meat platter


Pistachio’s entree platter


Dionysis Winery, Murrumbateman


Santa Lucia Antipasti platter

4. But avoid the ‘banquet’ or ‘degustation’ option

It might seem to make sense then, to get the ‘banquet’ option, to make it easy. But it’s usually not the best choice.

For a start, you don’t have control over the dishes you get and they can often be fairly routine foods that everyone knows well.

But perhaps more importantly, it’s always way too much food and you end up eating more than you really enjoy, and paying for more than you otherwise would need to.

5. Don’t order dishes, just because you think you should

There are no rules about needing to order salad, vegetables, breads, rices etc.

Only order them because they are good options or compliment other dishes well, otherwise you end up eating them on top of what you really want to eat.


6.  Order the right amount

Unless you eat out rarely, there are regular opportunities to enjoy meals away from home in amounts where you are satisfied but still feel comfortable.

We usually overestimate the amount we need to order and often over cater ‘just in case’. This is one of the reasons that two out three of us carry extra weight. We just don’t need as much food as we once did. And if it’s there, we tend to eat it.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s not necessary to order one main per person. Often 3 mains between four is enough, and one rice/ and or bread, per two people. It’s easy to get more if you need it.


Flavours of India Woden (two mains, two rice, two breads for 4 women for lunch)

Usually mains are better value than entrees and easier to share, and having dessert can push you over your comfortable range.

However, if there is a really good entree or dessert that’s worth including, you can probably cut back to one main per two people.

Having said that, this way of ordering only works if everyone is ‘on the same page.’ If people eat out rarely, are used to eating large amounts or feeling full at the end of meals, it can be too tricky. You might need to allow for groups of different age and gender.

Sometimes too, people will prefer just to order and eat their own, particularly if they have intolerances, allergies or strong food preferences.

7.  Eat mindfully and stay aware of how satisfied and comfortable you are feeling

The first mouthful is always the best, but only if you enjoy it with all your senses. Think of the presentation, textures and flavours as you eat. Best not to talk and savour at the same time, as it’s hard to do both well.

But chatting between mouthfuls is a great way to eat more slowly, so is taking a sip of water between mouthfuls or putting down your cutlery. That way, you give your stomach time to give you feedback; there’s always a lag.

8. Leave dishes in the middle and let everyone serve themselves with what they need

This way, everyone can take just the right amount for them.


Two Sisters’ Kambah

9. You don’t need to finish it all

If food is taken from the middle, once everyone’s taken what they will enjoy, there is often the option to take anything you have loved with you to enjoy again later.

(This is not usually the case with the ‘banquet’ option, another reason it’s not often the best choice).

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10. Don’t starve and don’t get too hungry before you go out

It is much easier to order well and eat the amount you will enjoy, when you don’t let yourself get too hungry before you go out. Sometimes it even helps to have something small to eat, to tide you over. A piece of fruit or a low fat, no added sugar yogurt are ideal; both highly transportable, easy and low in kilojoules.


If you are thinking of your appetite/capacity like a petrol gauge, it’s good to stay 1/4 to 1/2 full.

Sustainable weight loss when eating out


Eating out often can be a real challenge for anyone trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Foods eaten away from home are quite a bit higher in kilojoules (extra oils, dressings, sauces and larger serve sizes), and often very morish. Add a relaxed mood and some alcohol and it’s easy to loose track of how full you’re getting. If you like to eat out regularly…(and who doesn’t if they can)…..you can find you are gaining a few extra kilos each year.

It gets even trickier if you are trying to actually lose weight, because to do that, you need to eat fewer kilojoules than what you use (which is not really so many these days). But it isn’t impossible to still lose weight and in fact a few good strategies can mean you actually have more success long term, because you don’t feel deprived. On the days when you plan to eat a meal away from home, it is a more realistic goal to just balance your kilojoules than to aim to create the negative kilojoule balance you need for weight loss. But you don’t need to count kilojoules to do this, instead it’s more useful to have a range of good strategies in your toolbox.

Look out for the next post for the ten top tips for sustainable weight loss when eating out…

Two Sisters Kambah, Canberra – Lao Cuisine, Sharing Canberra’s World Food Delights with friends


Two Sisters Kambah

6 Kett Street, Kambah, ACT 2902
Ph (02) 6231 3331
Dinner (Tue – Sun): 17:00PM – 21:00PM
(Closed On Monday)

Suggested menu for four

Sticky rice is a must with main courses $3.50 per serve ( 2 serves)

Lao sausage is a good starter $16
Red curry with duck and chicken $20
Cashew stir fry are all good $17

The Kambah location has a lovely family run feel and dishes were better there than in Dickson.

BYO $2.90 per person

25% discount up to $30 for Canberra Entertainment Book

Total cost of food $60 ($15 per person) ($45 with the discount ($11 per person)


Sticky rice





Lao Sausage





Stir fry chicken


Red duck curry

Two Sisters Kambah on Urbanspoon

Sanur’s Balinese Restaurant, Belconnen, Canberra good sharing menu for a group


Shop 1, The Broadwalk

1/114 Emu Bank, Belconnen, 2617
Phone: (02) 6162 1688
Email: admin@sanurs.com.au

Opening Hours

Lunch 12.00 – 14.30 (Tuesday – Saturday)
Dinner 17.30 – 22.00 (Tuesday – Sunday)

Suggested menu for six

Opor Ayam $17.9
Tender chicken tenderloin cooked in spiced coconut curry

Beef Rendang $18.9
Slow cooked beef in rich coconut sauce with Indonesian Traditional herbs and spices

Gado Gado (V) $14.9
Steamed mixed vegetables with peanut sauce, boiled eggs, garlic crackers & fried shallots

Terong Balado (V) $16.9
Lightly fried Japanese eggplant with padangnese chili relish

Three serves rice

25% discount up to $30 for Entertainment Book

Corkage $5 per bottle


(Total cost of food about $78) ( $13 per person) ($ 59 with the discount ($10 per person)


Gado Gado


Beef Rendang


Sanur's Balinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Discovering Canberra’s World Food Delights with friends – good spots and great menus


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Canberra offers a bounty of great spots to explore the cuisines of the world with friends, and even meet some of the locals introducing the food of their home country to their fellow Canberrans, at the same time.

Vietnam, China, India, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Italy, Thailand, Mexico, Ethiopia, Laos, Burma, Malaysia and Bali as well many more cuisines are well represented in restaurants and street food style eateries around town.

Through some creative ordering and sharing, it’s easy to enjoy a range of dishes, finish dinner still feeling comfortable and keep the cost of the food down to around $20 or less.
And most places offer BYO which also keeps it affordable even if you’re planning a ’round the world’ ticket.

In the next few posts, I’ll help with some places to head and some menu ideas.

So grab some friends, a bottle wine and share some exciting food adventures discovering Canberra’s world cuisines.

Taj Agra Dickson, Canberra – Indian cuisine


Taj Agra Dickson

35 Woolley street Dickson

Ph: 02 62496633

Helpfully open 7 days of dinner Monday to Sunday 5:30pm-10:00pm

Lunch Monday to Friday 12-2pm

Suggested menu for six

3 serves Samosa – Spiced potato and green peas in crispy pastry (order one serve per two people as each serve includes two samosa) $9.90 per serve

Mains (order one serve of each, for six people):

Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken) – chicken pieces half cooked in tandoori oven and finished in a creamy tomato sauce $18.50
Beef Madras – South Indian beef curry with coconut milk and fragrant spices $18.50
Handi Gosht-chef’s own selected spices and lamb, simmered in a clay pot to accentuate its full flavour $18.90 and

One serve Raita $4.50

Three serves Saffron Basmati Rice $3 per serve
with 3 Plain Naan – tandoori bread ( 1/2 per person) $3.50 per naan

BYO (Corkage $5 per bottle)

Click to access dickson.pdf

Total cost of food $109.50 ($19 per person)

25 % discount up to $20 for the Canberra Entertainment book ($89.50 ($15 per person)







Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken) Saag Chicken Handi Gosht


3 dishes, 3 serves rice, raita and naan




Taj Agra on Urbanspoon

Thai Chiang Rai Kingston, Canberra -Thai


Thai Chiang Rai Kingston, is an ideal spot for an inexpensive, but interesting and pleasant, group dinner. Noy, the manager, is very helpful in designing a shared menu and his suggestions are terrific.

Helpfully open for dinner every day from 5 pm (and lunch Monday to Friday), it is found at 48 Giles St Kingston.

Phone 02 62326999 for bookings.

Suggested shared menu for six people, and
a good mix of flavours textures and colours;

Order one dish each of four to five of:

FIVE SPICE PRAWN $25.90 Stir-fried Prawns infused with five flavours of spices (this photo 3/4 of a serve size as it’s possible to order 1 1/2 serves, usually around 10 prawns per serve)

ROAST DUCK RED CURRY $22.90 With beans, bamboo shoot, peas, zucchini and lychee

ROAST CHICKEN $22.90 Crispy roast chicken with cucumber, topped with chilli, garlic, coriander and special soy sauce

STIR-FRY DRY CHILLI & CASHEW NUTS with onion and shallot and chicken $19.90

STUFFED EGGPLANT $22.90 (about 8 pieces per serve)

STICKY RICE $4.90/ basket(one basket per four people) (this especially good with the red duck curry)

and 2 serves of COCONUT RICE ( $3.90/ person)

Corkage $5.90 per bottle (or $3.90 per person)


25% discount up to $30 for the Canberra Entertainment book

Up to around $21 per person (for the five dishes and rice) (or $16 per person with the discount)


Thai Chiang Rai Kingston on Urbanspoon