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Dieting and Dating

How to enjoy romantic dinners while sticking to your diet.

Key points

  • Romantic dinners can be fattening.
  • Pregame: Don't show up starving. Skip the bread.
  • You can order the tastiest salads and fish dishes on the menu to stay lower calorie.
  • Sharing one dessert is romantic

In my last blog, "Weight and Your Love Life," I discussed all the reasons it might be good for your love life to lose some weight. The problem is then, how do you enjoy romantic dinners with your partner without gaining weight. As I mentioned in my last post, I was down to fighting weight when I met my wife, but as soon as we started dating, I began gaining weight from all of the romantic dinners and weekend brunches we were enjoying. I wish I knew back then what I know now about how to enjoy romantic evenings out without gaining weight.

A growing consensus is emerging as to the best diet for losing weight. Just eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins like non-fat yogurt or skinless chicken breast. Weight Watchers now assigns those foods zero points so you can eat all you want. Everything else is assigned points so is potentially fattening if you overeat it. This creates a problem for romantic dinners out. Wine is fattening, sourdough bread with butter is fattening, pasta Bolognese is fattening, coq au vin is fattening, chocolate mousse is fattening. It’s not a romantic evening out to have celery sticks and carrots as an appetizer, skinless turkey breast with steamed broccoli as an entrée, plain non-fat yogurt with bananas for dessert, and wash it all down with sparkling spring water.

The following are damage control strategies that will minimize your weight gain without spoiling the romantic mood.


We usually look forward to eating out, so naturally, we don’t want to spoil our appetites before eating out at a nice place that is probably expensive. That is a strategic error. You shouldn’t show up hungry. It’s better to eat some fruit before eating out. Don’t worry about being too full. You’ve been eating low-carbohydrate/low-fat foods all week on your diet. You will definitely have room for a glass of wine or a slice of bread, just like we always have room for dessert. You’ll be less likely to overeat the fattening foods (i.e. several glasses of wine or several slices of bread) if you pregame by filling up on some fruits and vegetables before eating out. You’ll be more likely to stick to the tasting menu rather than binge. Because your diet denies you the high-carbohydrate/high-fat foods your body craves, you are at high risk of binging once you get a taste of your favorite fattening foods. Your self-control won’t be good if you are hungry. Try to stick to just one glass of wine that you slowly sip and one piece of bread and butter that you savor.

Also, try to exercise a bit more on a day you know you’ll be eating out. If you burn more calories, that will give you a little more wiggle room if you end up overeating. When you eat out, the calories add up very quickly, even when you are making healthy choices. When you make unhealthy choices it’s easy to exceed your daily calorie limit in a single meal.

Sharing is Romantic

The healthiest option for an appetizer is usually the salad, and get the salad that is the least loaded with cheese, croutons, bacon bit, nuts, seeds, and/or dried fruit. Fish and seafood are also good low-calorie/low-fat appetizers as long as it’s not fried or smothered in a cream sauce. Shrimp cocktail, raw oysters, or any kind of sashimi (i.e. raw fish without the rice) won’t be fattening. Let your partner order the duck liver pate or the fried calamari and you can always share if you want a taste of a more fattening appetizer. Sharing is romantic.

Fish with a vegetable side is the least fattening option for an entrée. Ask if you can get a vegetable like broccoli instead of rice, pasta, or potato as a side dish. Let your partner order the high-fat/high-carbohydrate entrées like steak au poivre with truffle oil mashed potatoes or the fettuccini alfredo. You can always share if you must have a taste of a more fattening entrée. And for dessert, just order one dessert and split it. You can spoon-feed each other to make it romantic and savor every mouthful. Drink your coffee, espresso, or tea without any milk or sugar.

It’s OK if you leave the restaurant hungry. You at least had a taste of all of your favorite fattening foods. When you get home, just have some more fruit and vegetables or plain non-fat yogurt, so you don’t have to go to bed hungry. The point of eating out with your partner is to deepen your romantic connection and to have a taste of your favorite fattening foods, which you had been denying yourself all week long. The point is not to take a romantic evening out as a pretext for binge eating fattening foods.

The Day After

Get right back on your zero-point diet the next day so you can start earning your next romantic evening out. Do a little more exercise if you’re worried you might have overeaten the evening before. If you earn your romantic dinners out on the weekend by sticking with the diet during the week, you can enjoy your romantic dinners having a taste of your favorite foods guilt-free. You probably won’t lose weight on a day when you’ve had a romantic dinner out, but you probably won’t gain weight either if you follow these damage control strategies.


Josephs, L. (2021) Food Fantasies: Overcoming the Diet Lies We Tell Ourselves. Kindle Direct Publishing.