It’s that time of year when the holiday season is approaching and we’ll all begin to harmlessly snack on some cookies at the office or be invited to multiple parties. Before you know it, the holidays will have come and gone and those extra ten pounds will have come and stayed for good.

The new year will bring a resolution to lose that weight, and so we’ll all trade in those delicious cookies for some carrot sticks and a new attempt at sticking to a diet. Thankfully, registered dietitian, Whitney Stuart, is saving the day with the best tips to keep you on track when you still want to have a social life and be able to eat out with friends.

Tip 1: Before you go, be prepared by choosing an ideal restaurant.

Nothing is worse than agreeing to a harmless night out with friends, then ending up at some place that only serves the greasiest of foods. It’s 100% okay to do some research ahead of time and know exactly which places are safe and which are not.

Her recommendation is to do a quick online search of menus to know what food they’ll be serving. Italian food tends to be a “risky choice, unless it has coastal influences.” However, if a restaurant has “a good section of protein based entrees and green sides, you’re set!”

Tip 2: Never be afraid to ask your server for a substitute.

When Stuart goes for Mexican, she asks for sliced cucumber or zucchini to dip in the salsa and guacamole. “Otherwise, that bag of chips will be demolished in minutes and I’ll have no desire to consume my delicious meal,” she says.

You should never be scared to ask for a healthier option as a replacement for something else. The goal of the restaurant is to make you happy and keep you coming back for more. If the server gives you attitude for requesting a simple adjustment, then they shouldn’t be working there in the first place.

Tip 3: Learn how to properly navigate a menu.

Stuart’s best advice is to focus on the entrees and figure out what kind of main proteins they serve, then build a meal around that if they don’t otherwise offer a suitable option. She also suggests watching out for salads that don’t contain a proper amount of vegetables or are covered in dressing. “Most restaurants don’t provide a sizable vegetable portion,” so she also recommends asking to double the amount of vegetables.

Tip 4: Always include some form of fat for satiety.

Stuart loves stressing how important this is. She suggests adding an avocado or egg to a salad since just a bowl of lettuce will never fill you up. Looking to sauté some vegetables? Olive oil will be your best friend. Fiber is also a great thing to try and include in small doses.

Tip 5: Always be the first person to order.

“You’re more likely to be persuaded to change your game plan after hearing friends’ non-compliant orders,” Stuart said. “Get it on paper before you’re led into temptation!”

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