I don't know anyone who doesn't like going out to eat.
Sometimes it's the highlight of my day knowing I get to indulge with people I care about! The keyword here is indulge. It's important to be mindful of the fact that, no matter what, when you eat out, you are indulging to some capacity.
There is nothing wrong with this, but unfortunately, restaurants almost always use extra oils, butters, and high-carb sauces. Why? Because they make everything taste so good! Even your local vegan spot will serve you something that will be higher in fat than if you were to make it at home.
I live in NYC, the restaurant hub of the world, so at this point I basically specialize in equipping my clients with the knowledge of how to "eat out" without ruining their bodies.
This is where understanding your macronutrients comes into play. Because you can control exactly what goes into your body when you cook on your own, you can learn how to make room for your evening out.
Remember, your three macronutrients are carbs, protein, and fat. If you are unsure of what I'm referring to, head to my blog post titled: Macronutrients eBook and download the free eBook.
Your biggest enemy when eating out is going to be fat. From pasta dishes to burgers and even grilled veggies, you're dealing with high levels of oil. One thing I do is cut my fat intake all day long, until I get to the restaurant. I will go for egg whites and sweet potato for breakfast then oatmeal with protein powder and fruit for lunch. At this point I've had only around 5g of fat. If my allotted fat intake for the day is 30g, I am now allowed 25g at dinner, which depending on where I'm going, will probably be the amount I consume.
Another enemy will be carbs. If your plan is to hit Carbone or some heavenly Italian spot, you might need to cut your carb intake during the day. I mentioned above I'd have sweet potatoes and oatmeal, but if I was going out for pasta or pizza, I'd allow myself the sweet potatoes, but my lunch would be high protein like lean chicken with veggies. Your daily carb intake depends on how active you are. If you got your workout in and are on your feet all day, then cutting carbs completely until dinner isn't quite necessary. If you are sitting at your desk all day, avoiding carbs like bread, wraps, and rice until dinner might be best.
I'm not telling you to pull out a calculator under the table or purchase a food scale. What I mean by understanding your macros is your ability to be mindful of what exactly you are eating. As you start to read food labels with this mindset, you will organically learn and memorize how much fat and carbs are in your daily foods.