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Health & Wellness Spotlight: Getting Real With Dining Out

If there’s one thing Fargo-Moorhead doesn’t have a shortage of, it is great restaurant options. With all the recent growth in the last 15 to 20 years, the area now has an up-and-coming brewery scene, as well as a diverse collection of unique ethnic choices. From sushi, steak and burger joints to Middle Eastern and heritage-rich Scandinavian and German classics, Fargo-Moorhead offers a variety of tastes for any palate.

This, unfortunately, doesn’t make it any easier selecting a good, healthy option when out to eat. Whether it be in the Fargo area or across the country, I frequently get questions from clients related to making healthier options while dining out. In summary, there are really two ways you can attack it. The first being that you have Spartan-like discipline in choosing only super healthy and low-calorie options off the menu. I’ll be honest; that isn’t a whole lot of fun if you’re like my wife and me and we’ve finally arranged a babysitter and carved the time out of our schedules to enjoy a night out. If we can finally get out of the house and enjoy a fantastic meal, we’re going to get what we want.

Now, the second method, the one highly preferred by my clients and that I most encourage, involves a little bit more planning but allows you to enjoy what you want within reason. Here’s how you attack it:

Prep for the Night Out

Eat less leading up to it and/or after it. Plain and simple. If you know you’re going out to eat, keep your calories lower throughout the rest of the day. I like to recommend trying to eat half of what you’d normally eat so that you save up some calories for that meal out. Emphasize proteins and vegetables at your other meals to help keep you full until you hit the town. To keep you going without eating too much, you may want to have something like a steak bar snack or something that is equally protein-filled, so you are not starving yourself.

Fill Up the Tank Beforehand

As I previously mentioned, be sure to eat just enough throughout the day so that you aren’t compelled to chew your arm off when you finally sit down at a restaurant. You can also help prevent this by frequently drinking water throughout the day and shortly before heading out to eat. Putting down a large glass or two shortly before, as well as drinking water throughout the meal, will help keep your appetite in check, preventing you from crushing too many calories.

Control Portion Size

We all know restaurant food isn’t the healthiest. Nor are portion sizes typically the least bit appropriate. It’s not uncommon for a full plate of restaurant food to easily push over the 1,500 calorie mark – that’s the caloric requirement for an entire day for many people! Ask your server for meal options with smaller portion sizes or at the very least, consider splitting a meal with your significant other or others in your group. Eating more slowly and concentrating on how the food actually tastes will also help reduce your overall intake.

Prioritize Macros

A restaurant’s main goal is to have you walk out the door entirely satisfied and full. One way they accomplish this is by stuffing you full of cheap carbs before your meal actually arrives – think breadsticks, buns and bread. Now, don’t get me wrong, I could eat breadsticks or buns slathered in honey butter until I almost exploded, but it’s just not healthy for anyone, right?! Prioritize more of what you want to or should eat by focusing on healthier sides and dishes at the beginning of your meal. Salad greens, proteins and vegetables should take priority. Now, that doesn’t mean carbs or fats are the enemy by any means, but putting down a large combination of them will not only fill you up and prevent you from eating what you really need, but they’re a wicked combination of unhealthy when placed together – think pizza or creamy sauces over pasta.

Going out with friends or family and taking in a good meal, in my opinion, is time very well spent. Don’t feel like you have to give up everything you love, however, and completely behave with the menu choices you make. In the end, it really comes down to an overall balance throughout the week by consistently selecting healthy options with some splurges and favorites sparingly tossed in here and there to quell cravings and keep you satisfied. Be mindful of your choices and rather than living to eat, adopt a healthier mindset of eating to live.

My Top 3 Healthy Go To’s


It’s hard to go wrong with a protein and veggie-packed burrito or burrito bowl.


Their half sandwich and salad option is just the right amount for a weekday lunch.

Texas Roadhouse

Quantity meets healthy options and great music with a hand-cut steak, sweet potato and fresh vegetables.

My Top 3 Guilty Pleasures

Lucky’s 13 Pub

If you’re a bourbon and onion lover like me, you’ll love their Drunk & Dirty burger.


Get squirting sake, flying vegetables and entertained all at once at their teppanyaki grill.

Blackbird Woodfire

Their sausage and green apple pizza is one of the best pies in the area.

Written by Patrick Metzger

Patrick Metzger is the founder of Synergy Strength and Nutrition. As a health and mindset coach, he works with busy professionals and parents in helping them discover and ignite their ultimate potential. For more from Patrick, visit him at:

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