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What to Eat on a Date


By Mary_RD on Feb 11, 2010 12:00 PM in Dieting & You
Edited By +Rachel Berman


Lucky YOU if you happen to have plans for a romantic restaurant dinner for two on  Valentine’s Day.  Just remember that what you order and how you eat it will help to make or break a good impression.  I know a  woman who refused a guy a second date because he slurped his soup (or did he drink from the bowl?) and another who axed her Internet match because he ate food from her plate.  

Researchers have described the difference between “dating foods” and “non-dating foods”.  Dana Amiraian and Jeffery Sobal of Cornell's Division of Nutritional Sciences asked university students to talk about “dating” and “non-dating” foods.  Some “non-dating foods” were garlic and fast food, while salad was a “dating food” for women trying to appear feminine.  The guys simply mirrored the gals’ dating food choices to forge a bond of togetherness.  Many foods crossed over both categories but, either way, the authors found that food was used as an "unofficial dating script” to construct “positive impression management”.

And so, whether you are newly smitten, not yet “official” or working to keep love alive, you will want to follow these food tips to manage your positive impressions!


10 Tips for Eating on a Date


To create a good impression, refrain from eating foods that:

  • Drip, splash or leave a mess (e.g. spaghetti with sauce, over-filled tacos, soup, ribs, wings, lobster in the shell, and Popsicles in the wind)
  • Make your mouth open really wide (e.g. Big Macs, deli sandwiches and sushi)
  • Stick in your teeth (e.g. corn on the cob, spinach, poppy seeds, and Turkish taffy)
  • Contain a part that requires discrete removal (e.g. olives with pits, fish with bones and fruit with seeds)
  • Are smelly going in or coming out  (e.g. raw onion, garlic, stinky fish and cheese, cruciferous vegetables and beans)
  • Make you seem boring (e.g. vanilla ice cream, white bread, mushy peas, and salad without dressing)
  • Make you seem childish (e.g. chicken fingers, mac and cheese, using ketchup on everything, and separating the onions)
  • Make you look unhealthy (e.g. fast food, big pieces of cheesecake, 20-ounce sodas, and Mudslides)
  • Most people think are weird (e.g. frogs legs, steak tartar, blood sausage and Spam)
  • Are so-called aphrodisiacs - without your full consent (e.g. raw oysters, dark chocolate, strawberries and bananas)
  • Make you forget your manners when you spill, spit, spray or otherwise eat with your mouth open; slurp, burp, belch or hiccup; turn your napkin into a bib or wipe your mouth on your sleeve or the tablecloth.


But apart from that, all other foods are fine.  Have a great date!  (That lump in my cheek?  It's only my tongue.)


Your thoughts….

What are your Dating and Non-Dating Foods?  Have you had a bad experience eating with a date?



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Comments


I know a guy who ate garlic for supper and forgot about his date planns. He had to call and cancel..



I've been with my boyfriend now for 5 years. On our first date (or close enough) I think we had a pub meal. So knowing me, I would've had a pint of lager, some kind of pie or posh burger with chips and salad or baked beans. I know if i'd had chips I would've had ketchup and mayonnaise. I am lucky that all that didn't seem to put him off! He just thinks it's amusing that I am such a 'good' eater. I'm paying for it now though...!



SO what can you eat on a date. Fish is out, Italien is out, burgers, cheese, chinese. Most veggies leave me with bad breath or get stuck in my teeth so they are all out too. I guess every date people go on has to be to a steak house so they can avoid all these bad foods. Then they can go broke and only have two three dates amonth. Thank God I am married and do not have to worry about this any more. Too many rules. Just 6 years ago when I was single I do not remember all these sins.



Okay... I'm not 100% in support of this article. While I generally avoid foods like pasta with a red sauce on a first date or a ton of garlic, I'm still going to eat like I do. Basically this article is asking people to not be themselves. If you want a burger, have a burger, if you LOVE mac & cheese and that is what you want, have it... be yourself not what you think the other person wants or what someone else entirely wants...

At some point in time, if things go well, the other person is going to find out you love SPAM or can finish the entire cheesecake. Dating is hard enough without constantly trying to decode how the person is going to react to what you order off of the menu.

My advice - follow #10 (mind you manners), avoid dangerously messy foods and have a great time.



Alright guys, I think that:

"But apart from that, all other foods are fine.  Have a great date!  (That lump in my cheek?  It's only my tongue.)" 

is a subtle hint at this being tongue-in-cheek.  I don't think anyone here would prescribe what you could or couldn't eat on a date because of how it could be perceived! If someone you're on a date with is judging you by what you eat (or if you're changing your eating habits to 'impress' your date or otherwise attempt to escape judgement), then maybe you should rethink your date :P

One of my first dates with my (now long-time) boyfriend included macaroni and cheese (Annie's, even) and was eaten on the floor of his studio apartment. And it was messy, and lovely. Just saying.



Honestly, this sounds like a recipe for the most boring date ever. Who hasn't laughed at spinach teeth or spaghetti stains? Approaching the whole issue with a good sense of humor is far more attractive and less intimidating. If you are going to give a false impression of yourself (and your taste in food) that will only lead to problems later on. An easy and intimate solution is just to share a dish or two, that way neither of you can "smell" the other.



I say order what you want! Eat slowly and respectfully. Bring some breath mints for afterwards!

After all, this could be the person you end up being married to--be yourself from day one!



I met a guy 5 years ago when he was engaged, he met me again a year ago before I left for a year to go to Japan, both of us single. Our first date a day before I left, he said we could go ANYWHERE. I picked Red Robin, a nice non-fast food burger joint, and got a giant burger, with onions, and fries.

We're going on a second date now that I'm back. Food isn't a factor unless you're judgemental. It's what the person says and does that makes you attracted, anything else is just individualism and makes for a good story to tell your kids.



Really, most people think Spam is weird? Don't let Pacific islanders hear that.



I kind of disagree with all of the suggestions in the article too - I am of the mind that simply using MANNERS and not being a total pig at the table are the most appropriate things to remember. 



I (when single) always picked sushi for the first date. I can't be with someone that won't eat it.  



As long as someone eats with their mouth CLOSED and doesn't smack their lips, any food is fine with me. A date is supposed to be fun not nerve wracking and I think it's the funniest thing in the world to tackle dishes you migt never have otherwise tried out! I've had blood pudding and haggis on a date with a man I adored and cracked crabs and lobster on a beach with butter running down my chin, only to have it gently wiped , then kissed away!!! People shouldn't take themselves so seriously! PS I LOVE Spam.



O-K-A-Y!!!  Those tips seem useful, but leave us with very few options on an average restaurant's menu.  I am all for practising good table manners, but I wouldn't want to order food just because I want to create a false impression of myself.  I do appreciate the heads-up so that I can avoid some embarassing situations, though.  To be on the safe(st) side, I guess I'll just order a glass of water :-)



Its all about the table manners! I don't care what he eats so long as he has great manners.



Original Post by: bssecretary

I say order what you want! Eat slowly and respectfully. Bring some breath mints for afterwards!

After all, this could be the person you end up being married to--be yourself from day one!


I agree, bssecretary!  My husband and I met online and our first meeting was a dinner date.  We were married only 7 months later...and, yes, we had the cheesecake! (Shared, I might add!)  Happily married, we are celebrating Valentine's at the same restaurant.  You never know and, believe me, we were definitely ourselves.  That was the best part of the date! Laughing



Not to eat Sushi is this a joke!!! Nothing left to order except Water and dust. This article is a joke. If someone doesn't like you as you are she or he isn't worth the time. That judgmental person will never find anyone good enough.

It's remarkable to read articles which are always telling you what to do and don't do. As if your not nervous ... See Moreenough going on the first date not to break any rules that you just sit there quiet sweeting your brains out while the other person stairs at you and judging you as the time passes. Then finally the date is over and you go home completely beaten down as you just ran a marathon.

Stop those stupid rules just be your self and have fun :)



While I understand and enjoyed the article, I think it was a little too extreme.  Sure red sauce and big burgers can make a mess of the night.  However, I think it is very important to be yourself.  I also think it is very possible to eat any of those things without making yourself look like a fool or too childish.   If I have to hide what kind of person I am and what I like to eat then perhaps the person I am on the date with is not the right person for me.  Who knows, the silly eating habits you have may be the cutest thing to someone else. Sometimes what seems like a horrible situation(Spilling your soda, getting sauce on your shirt, getting lost on the way to the restaurant) can become a lasting memory.



I personally do not fully agree with this article either. My ex and I had fast food a few times on our dates, and it was his suggestion, not mine. If you want mac and cheese, then have it! If you like ketchup, then eat it! Just don't do it in an obnoxious manner. For a successful dinner/lunch/whatever on a date, just remember your manners. And avoid dangerously messy foods as some would say, but only on the first date - until you get to know the person - or at certain occasions, like a fancy event or something. If we were to follow this article seriously there would be no variety to choose form to eat, and that's boring - which is pointed out in the article as something you want to avoid.



Everyone, please. Read the full article. It's tongue in cheek. Look it up if you don't know what it means. A sense of humor is a lovely thing!



Actually, this article described what to eat on a business lunch. The rules are stricter with a potential client! I find my romantic interest generally likes the same foods as I do...and that's just part of why we like each other.



Alright, so basically don't eat anything on a date.....Got it!!



Lighten up, folks, and get the giggle!  OF COURSE you can eat what you want, and OF COURSE if your date CARES, it should be the last one with him/her... doesn't anybody recognize playful sarcasm anymore?  As an explanation for those of you too uptight to 'get it', the article is rediculously extreme and that is what makes it funny.  It's a 'you can't win for losing' article.

I thought it was entertaining.



I get that this is supposed to be a funny article...but I've come to expect more from Calorie Count.  I clicked on the article hoping it would give some good suggestions for healthy restaurant options.  Instead it was a fluff piece that was not helpful at all.  It's easy for a married person of a healthy weight to say "don't take a date too seriously" but for us single folk, who are also struggling with weight, date etiquette can be incredibly stressful.  I would love to see this article re-written seriously (there are those of us out here who are looking for "positive impression management!!!")



This article is more about dating advice than nutrition. And with that in mind you will do yourself and your potential significant-other a HUGE favor by BEING YOURSELF!! Having to work to make a good "first impression" is essentially lying. And that sort of lying (to earn people's love and affection) is part of why we have weight issues and emotionally related issues. Finding someone who loves you for who you are (unconditional love) and you loving them for the REAL person they are is the only way to go. Not going this route is why eventually "The honeymoon is over" or "Where is the person that I married?" statements occur.

The biggest favor you can do for yourself and your date is to be as close to the "regular" you as possible.



I think it's articles like this that make me even MORE self-conscious about eating in front of a guy anyway!  I already feel like because I am a lil "bigger" I should compensate and order something with no calories and eat very little to make me appear more 'dainty' and articles like this would just make me even more nervous about going on dates!



Stinky foods are definitely out, however, if you know how to eat with your mouth closed, don't slurp, burp, pick your teeth at the table, suck your teeth,don't blow your nose at the table (because its running from the spicy food you had) and remember not to wipe your mouth with anything but a napkin, you'll be fine!

I always get fork foods on a first date, salmon, steak, tilapia, grilled chicken and so on. However, I love sashimi rolls and I don't have to open too wide for that. The problem is guys always want to go eat. I'm trying to lose weight!!! Lol!!



Honestly, there are a few things not to eat on a first date, just for convenience sake, but some of my most memorable dates have included all of the above foods and plenty of garlic.  Just make sure your date is eating garlic, too, if that's the case.

My first impression avoid list is generally: rotisserie chicken on the bone; bony or whole fish; chili-dogs (unless you are really on coney-island) - then it's possibly "messy adorable" with enough napkins at the counter; Crab legs or lobster claws, 32 oz or larger margueritas; ribs or any messy barbecue.

Great first date meals I have had included: Tapas (fun and small portions); sushi (I completely disagree with the article on this one) - just don't go for the really scary stuff like sea urchin until you get a read on your date; Thai food - the coconut milk soup is always a winner; Peruvian (if you haven't tried it, you don't know what you are missing - papas a la huancaina; palta rellena; parihuela, lomo saltado......mmmmm and alfajores, picarones (if you are lucky) or crema volteada for desert); and, of course, finding an unusual and fun brunch place for a weekend date - the kind with blood orange mimosas and lemon ricotta pancakes. 

I did just find a really fantastic all organic brunch place last weekend here in NY. It's called GustOrganics.  Had whole wheat pancakes with dulce de leche whipped cream and homemade hot cocoa.  It should have been a first date, but it was just my work buds.  Oh the opportunities lost.



This is ridiculous.  I think it's mostly important to not chew loudly and visibly.  Based on the list provided, what the hell can you eat??  And not sharing - bah!  Sharing is the best part!  Then you both have the same problems with those fun trouble foods.  I don't know if what you choose to eat has that big of an impression - sure it's part of it - but if someone is basing not dating you on your food choices, it's to disguise all the other things they're not fond of in you.  If you really like someone, their silly food foibles will be endearing, not a turn off.



Don't be self concious! If you are on a date the guy knew you were a little thicker when he asked you. Some guys love women who eat and don't get little side salads when they go out. I've found that when I order salads (not for vanity but because I love them) guys say is that all your getting? Then when the salad comes out they are like Whoa! I have to actually take some of it home. Its so filling! If you want to get a steak and potato get it, just make sure you are comfortable with whatever you do!



I have to agree with the last tip on manners.  But eating slow and having breath mints, as mentioned earlier, would help you be able to eat anything.  I don't care what my man eats, but the second he belches and gets a goofy grin with corn stuck in his teeth and wipes his face on anything other than a napkin I'm done.



If someone could eat any of these messy, foul smelling, difficult to eat things and still look sexy in my books (or if I ate them and still looked sexy in theirs) then I think that's a perfect date!

Maybe you SHOULD eat these foods to test how sincere the date's interest in you is!  Will they still be interested if you've got spinach in your teeth?  If yes, that's a keeper!



When I was single it was so nice finding a fellow vegetarian to date :) If you are looking for some diet-friendly food, a vegetarian restaurant might not be a bad choice - shows you're adventurous and open-minded even if you're not actually a vegetarian. Not such a great choice if your date is a cattle rancher, of course ...

My nutrition thoughts would be to do what you always have to do when you go to a restaurant - avoid the creamy sauces, fattening dressings, deep-fried items and excessive amounts of bread and butter. My romance thoughts are stay away from anything that will give you bad gas and share dessert.



The salad thing is bull. I have had more than one date comment on how awesome it was I ordered a burger instead of a salad. Perhaps that is because I am thin, but anyone who would be judgy if I was fat would be out the door either way.

Manners are very important, but worrying about choosing the right food to impress somebody is ridiculous. In my experience, it is much more impressive to just order whatever you feel like eating, and enjoy it!



Original Post by: lucykemp21

I've been with my boyfriend now for 5 years. On our first date (or close enough) I think we had a pub meal. So knowing me, I would've had a pint of lager, some kind of pie or posh burger with chips and salad or baked beans. I know if i'd had chips I would've had ketchup and mayonnaise. I am lucky that all that didn't seem to put him off! He just thinks it's amusing that I am such a 'good' eater. I'm paying for it now though...!


I love this! Sounds like my first date with my boyfriend......we had chicken wings, beer, and burgers.  If they don't run away after that you know they're a keeper! I'm paying for it too though, we just have to stay positive and we'll get there! Good thing is my boyfriend is also supportive of me when I want to eat healthy.



Raw food like sushi and beef tartar is sexy. Come on!



I think this article is quite funny and expresses some of the silly things we worry about. After reading all that you cannot eat, what's left? Here's the bottom line, first impressions are important, but what's more important is to just be yourself. If this person is turned off by the things that make you YOU, then perhaps this isn't the right person. It's all about balance. You can take into consideration what you are eating and make sure to use some manners, but at the same time don't feel like you have to become this "perfect" person to impress him or her.

Great article and the comments below are pretty funny too. I love this website. :)



A tongue-in-cheek article is fine, I suppose, but then why bother writing it?  Aren't all jokes half-truths in a way?  LAME article.  Eat whatever you'd like to eat on a date.  Be confident and be yourself.  Don't pretend to be someone else - it will rise to the surface eventually anyways.  Don't go out with people who are lame enough to care what you eat in the first place.



I definitely thought this was real at first. Cute though! Good rule of thumb, if you can't be yourself with a person then they are probably not good for you.

 



This article is pretty funny. I remember when my husband and I were dating, I took him out for his birthday and ordered an Italian cream sauce pasta dish, but I didn't realize that it contained slices of garlic (yes, huge slices of fresh garlic). Needless to say, I stunk the whole night - every time I even opened my mouth to speak. We laugh about it now, and of course he tells that story every where we go. I guess I'm fortunate that it wasn't our first date??



Wow!  What exactly is there left to eat? 12 years ago, I went out on my first or second date with my husband and all I could look at was his lips as he ate his food, VERY Sexy I tell you, he was having Italian.  If there's a connection it will be there no matter what someone is eating.  



Original Post by: dancingpanda

Okay... I'm not 100% in support of this article. While I generally avoid foods like pasta with a red sauce on a first date or a ton of garlic, I'm still going to eat like I do. Basically this article is asking people to not be themselves. If you want a burger, have a burger, if you LOVE mac & cheese and that is what you want, have it... be yourself not what you think the other person wants or what someone else entirely wants...

At some point in time, if things go well, the other person is going to find out you love SPAM or can finish the entire cheesecake. Dating is hard enough without constantly trying to decode how the person is going to react to what you order off of the menu.

My advice - follow #10 (mind you manners), avoid dangerously messy foods and have a great time.


This is a perfect way to answer!!  True and to the point!  Manners are great no matter what, but be you when you choose what to eat!! Why trick a person into thinking you eat only certain things and later in the relationship they see you and the way you are... That's worse!



Once on a lunch date, I suspected it to be more than business, but this had not been confirmed.  When the waiter came with the desert tray, I had been to that very restaurant many times and thought I knew which of the deserts were plastic and which were real.  Being the smart ass that I am, I plunked my thumb down on a "fake tiramissou" that turned out to be quite real!  I was very embarassed...... until to my amazement, he took care of the problem by taking my hand to his mouth and licking the tiramissou off my thumb!  Suspicions confirmed and romance ensued!!!!!  This is a delisciously fond memory and wouldn't have happened had I been nervously behaving myself!!!



I know the article is a joke....

 

I'm a little heavy for my height (about 40~50lbs over weight), but I honestly don't care. It's 100% caused by lack of exercise (car accident 2yrs ago stopped me from a lot of walking)... anyways, I eat decently well... Now onto the story :P

 

My first date with my current b/f (8months) was watching 2 back to back movies at the drive-in. The first was Harry potter. He had no interest in teh movie but wanted to take me to see it. We then had a large coke & popcorn... date over.... date #2. I COOKED a roast Beef meal... He wolfed it down & I couldn't have been happier. He's not a pig when he eats, but he can eat fast when he really likes something. I know hes a picky eater & I honestly don't care, we make a great couple & I make fantastic meals that we both can enjoy. Sure sometimes I make 2 meals (slightly different from the other) but its becuase I want too, not because I have too. He's tall & slim, I'm short & plump... 

 

When I'm not hungry & only eat a little he notices that I'm not eating much. later on in the evening he'll make a pizza pocket as he knows the amount of food I ate wasn't nearly enough for a human of any size. Sure Pizza pockets are ubber unhealthy but he can't cook (he has no food in his house as he can't cook anything but pizza pockets & maybe some KD). To me, its the thought that counts & the knowledge that someone loves me for ME. 

 

He has great table manners when we eat out & when we eat in, however he will burp when we eat in. We both giggle when the other burps cause we're both kids at heart. We try to see the good/funny in everything... More people need to relax, be themselves & be supportive. Its the only way to truly find your match & find true happiness. 



This must be a western thing. In Eastern Europe people can be on a date and eat fried potatoes and sausages, and there will be nothing wrong with that.



Comment Removed

Really? No messy foods? How do you think I hooked my husband? On our first date I had tacos and the sauce kept dripping down my chin... everytime he was right there with a napkin to mop it up. It was comical to him but let him know I was still confident even with a saucy chin and him being right there with a napkin was endearing to me. It let me know that it didn't bother him and that he was more then willing to help me clean up any mess I was bound to make! Smile

 



Some cultures it's rude not to slurp.


Hey looking at the list of foods to avoid on a romantic date, I think the real advice should be not to eat at all, LOL, go to the cinema or bowling instead LMAO



Whaaaat? No dark chocolate? What? I think most chocolates and most aphrodiac MAKE the date! HELLO!!

 

I thought this article was going to be about healthier eating choices while on a date. Where did this stray? Sounds like a misnomer!

In reality you can have your red sauce with linguini or spaghetti or whatever as long as youre not slurping it down or mix your ketchup with the eggs and cheese and stir and make it all messy! ewww

And as far as chocolate is concerned...it breaks all barriers dont you think? lol

 

 



I was hoping this article would talk about what to eat on a date when you are watching your calories. to say Don't eat dark chocolate or strawberries is a joke and lobster is common on a romantic date, especially valentines day. Basically just use common sense, use a napkin and chew with your mouth closed. 



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