Skip to main content

How to Order in a French Restaurant without Blowing Your Diet

Don't let the cream and butter sauces keep you from your local French bistro. We'll help you enjoy a guilt-free meal.


  • Step 1: Skip the soup Skip the French onion soup and the seafood bisque in favor of almost any other appetizer; they're usually the most fattening starters on the menu.
  • TIP: Try the moules marinieres, which are mussels in white wine, garlic, and shallot sauce.
  • Step 2: Avoid these words Avoid any food accompanied by the word mousse, pate, terrine, hollandaise, meuniere, beurre blanc, bechamel, or bearnaise. All indicate a high fat content.
  • TIP: Go for dishes described as "Provencal," which means they are served with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, and olives.
  • Step 3: Focus on fish For a safe bet, order grilled fish. Bouillabaisse, a fish stew, is also a good choice.
  • Step 4: Ponder the duck Life is too short to never have delicious duck a l'orange, but since it weighs in at nearly 1,000 calories, save this dish for special occasions.
  • Step 5: Weigh the meats If you have a yen for meat, steak au poivre is less caloric than beef bourguignon.
  • Step 6: Say cheese If you are offered cheese after dinner, stick mostly with the hard varieties and avoid ripe vacherin, which is so creamy – i.e. fattening – it's served with a spoon!
  • Step 7: Savor dessert Skip the profiteroles and tarte tatin, or apple tart, in favor of some sorbet. If you want a richer dessert, creme caramel is slightly less caloric than creme brulee.
  • FACT: A comparison of restaurants in France and America revealed that the French eateries' portions were 25 percent smaller than their U.S. counterparts.

You Will Need

  • Knowledge of French menu terms
  • Willpower

Popular Categories