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I love eating out at restaurants.  I love trying out new eateries while hanging out with family and friends.  Eating out is fun.  I love checking out the interior design and unique food choices of different restaurants.  Eating out to me is like a celebration.  All the food is pretty, the drinks are good and it’s just a fun time all around.  I usually eat out on weekends and I look forward to it.

But as much as I love eating at restaurants, I don’t love all the fat, salt, sugar and calories I’m eating too.   All those extra calories and fat can kill all the work you did that week dieting with the quickness.  So what’s a girl to do?  Curtail or eliminate eating out while dieting?  Because honestly, eating out is fun but it’s also a social thing too.  And to cut out going to restaurants means that you are missing out on fun and bonding time with our family and friends.

However, you want to lose weight and eating out can make that difficult if not impossible.  Well, no worries.  I am here to let you know that you can eat a cheat meal and still lose weight.  Yes, you can!  If you wanna know what the rules are to each a cheat meal and still lose weight, keep reading!

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Every year, Redbook magazine works with a group of women who are trying to lose weight so they can fit back into their wedding dress.  It’s called the Wedding Dress Challenge and a few years ago, I had the great pleasure to be one of the participants.  Over the course of several months, Redbook magazine provided me with a celebrity fitness trainer, a nutritionist and all the tools I needed to lose weight.  In total, I lost 18 pounds and learning a lot about working out, dieting and weight loss.  While I was participating in that challenge, I learned how to eat out and still lose weight.

When I first learned about this Redbook weight loss challenge, my twins were 2 years old and my oldest child was 5.  I didn’t have time to work out every day or think about what I was eating.  I was just trying to get enough rest each day.  Even though my twins were sleeping through the night, I was still exhausted from the sheer amount of work I had to do every day.  By the time nighttime came, all I wanted to do was plop down on the couch in front of the television, get a snack and drink alcohol.  And that’s exactly what I did every single night.  We also ate out a lot or got take out because I was too tired to cook most of the time.   so as a result, I was over 200 lbs and couldn’t fit into my jeans or any of my old clothes. I had lost all my baby weight from after having my first child.  But I had no idea when or how I would be able to lose my baby weight from having my twins.  I just had the mindset that I could never be skinny again and I’d be a thick girl for the rest of my life.  I was slowly, in my mind, just accepting the weight.

Then one day by chance, I came across a study that was looking for people who wanted to lose weight so they can fit back into their wedding dress.  The people sponsoring the study were not revealed but I was instantly interested.  I definitely wanted to lose weight fast but I wanted to do it in a safe manner.  And I didn’t think I could ever fit back into my wedding dress.  When I got married I was 150 pounds.  I was my thinnest and fittest self when I walked down the aisle.  I was a workout queen and only “good” carbs rarely passed through my lips.  But now, I was a far cry from the girl who wore that wedding dress years ago.

I sent an email to the group conducting the study and they responded quickly by asking me to sent them photos of my in my wedding dress (at my wedding) and what I looked like now.  They also wanted me to tell them why I wanted to lose the weight and how I gained the weight.  They wanted to know if I wanted to lose weight fast or if I wanted to make a healthy lifestyle change.  I sent them back my pictures and story and guess what?  I made it into the program.  And to my complete surprise, I found out that Redbook magazine was sponsoring this program.  It was called the Wedding Dress Challenge and it was helping women who can’t fit into their wedding dresses anymore because of weight gain due to pregnancies, age, and inactivity lose weight.  


I was given all the help and support I needed to succeed in the Wedding Dress Challenge.  Redbook provided me with a gym membership, a fitness trainer that worked with celebs like Jessica Alba and Halle Berry and a nutritionist to help me through the process.  Plus, I got sent free swag like a pedometer to use during my workouts.  I was excited to be working with Redbook magazine but I was more excited to have support and coaching through a weight loss program.  I had everything at my disposal that I needed to lose the weight.  I just had to do the work and that was the hard part.

One of the hardest parts of dieting was navigating how to eat out.  Eating out is a thrill for me but I knew it would derail my diet.  Luckily, the nutritionist I worked with taught me a few tricks about how to eat out or have a cheat meal and still lose weight.  So even though eating out can be treacherous, the good thing is that you don’t have to totally eliminate it from your life while dieting.  If you know you’re going out to eat, have a plan to succeed.  Yep, you can have a cheat meal at a restaurant if you plan for it.  Here are the ten tips I live by when I have a cheat meal.


  1. Work out before you eat out.
  2. If you know what restaurant you’ll be eating at, go online and check out the menu.  Pick a healthy choice and don’t even open the menu when you get there.
  3. As soon as you sit down, they’re putting down that soft, warm bread or chips for you to eat.  I know it’s hard, but don’t eat it!
  4. Order an appetizer or an entree to eat, but not both.
  5. If you order an entree, share it with someone else eating out with you.
  6. If you don’t have anyone to share your entree with, tell the server to half it and put it in a to-go box even before it comes out.
  7. Do not order dessert if you are eating a cheat meal at the restaurant.  Only order dessert if your meal is clean and diet-friendly.
  8. Have a cheat meal only once every 7 days.
  9. Don’t eat anyone else’s food or drink but your own.  And do not order seconds.
  10. Order water to drink.  No exceptions!


Religiously stick to these 10 rules when eating a cheat meal at a restaurant.  Do not deviate from them in any way.  After you do it several times, it will become routine and ingrained in your personal habits.  Also, I suggest not telling anyone you’re with at the restaurant that you are dieting or having a cheat meal.  And if anyone does find out, don’t let them intimidate or shame you into ordering something you know you shouldn’t.  Stay strong and be strong.  You will lose the weight.

In this blog post, I’ve given you my personal tips and tricks on how I learned to eat a cheat meal restaurants but still stay on track for weight loss.  No, it’s not easy but it works.  For those interested, I do give all the deets on how I lost 18 lbs in months doing Redbook’s Wedding Dress Challenge.  If you want my exact method – including the workouts, meal plans and more – Click HERE to download my FREE eBook “The Busy Mom’s Guide on How to Lose Weight Fast!”.  

And don’t forget to tell me In the comments, what your favorite restaurant is.



Dr. Marcella Wilson

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