Nothing ruins date night quite like stinky breath, massive bloating, or having to run to the bathroom. We consulted with nutritionists for their top picks on foods that destroy date night vibes faster than swiping left or right. Get the scoop below, avoid the foodie temptations, and then blast that Sade playlist after instantly slimming down with these 24 Ways to Shrink Your Belly in 24 Hours!
Here’s a fast way to puff up, pronto: Down some sodas or mixed cocktails. “Everything from soda to seltzer that is carbonated can create gas bubbles in the stomach, which then has to be released,” say The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. “And that’s never sexy!” Avoid these 70 Worst Drinks That Give You “Soda Belly”.
Winding up at the urgent care clinic the night of a third date because of food poisoning? Sounds like an episode straight out of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None.” “Steak or fish tartare makes you susceptible for food borne illness,” explains Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The Well Necessities. Bad news if you’re trying to KTR (Keep Things Romantic). “Instead, opt for cooked meat, well-done is best, to avoid any gastrointestinal upset.”
Things That Spill Easily
It’s not so obvious when you’re scanning a menu, but this one’s important to keep in mind. “Avoid the spaghetti dish with red sauce or that Vietnamese Pho soup dish. All that slurping action leaves you at risk of staining your favorite go-to date clothing!” exclaims Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh, a leading healthy meal kit delivery service. For a non-messy, at-home pasta choice, check out The #1 Best Pasta for Your Body.
A Raw Kale Salad
Mmmm…Gently Massaged Kale Medley with Roasted Pepitas, Blood Orange, and Miso-Yuzu Vinaigrette. But you’ll want to think twice before you order that delish kale salad: “We know this is a hard health food to turn down, but raw kale is one of the hardest things to digest,” shares Hayim. “It’s likely to cause gas pain and bloating. If possible, ask if the chef can offer cooked kale, which will begin the ‘breakdown’ process and make things easier for digestion.”
For about six hours before your dinner date, you’re gonna wanna avoid dairy. “As we age, our bodies all make less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the lactose found in dairy products; with less lactase, we all are more susceptible to gas, diarrhea, and bloating that’s caused by dairy products,” explain The Nutrition Twins.
Heavy, Greasy Meals
“[These kinds of foods] will make you sleepy and give you indigestion,” offers celebrity nutritionist Lisa DeFazio, MS, RDN.”Think: Pizza with everything, meatball sandwich, fettuccini Alfredo, lasagna…” These are also some of the worst foods to have before you go to sleep, so you’ll want to steer clear for sweeter Zzz’s too.
“With nerves high, why add to our stomach’s woe with foods that are highly irritable?” says Lewis. “Plus, a runny nose from all the spice is not the most attractive look!” We are so with you.
Big meals and fatty foods can take as many as eight hours to digest; carbs take 1-4 hours; protein takes 4-6 hours. “The blood is shuttled from your brain and muscles to work on digestion and sits in your stomach for a long time,” explain The Nutrition Twins. “It leaves your brain and body feeling tired and sluggish—not what you want when you’re celebrating.” For more foods to avoid, check out the 50 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet!
Mac and Cheese
Comfort food never tasted better than when you’re slinging spoonfuls back with your bae, right? Wrong! “The heavy cream made in most restaurant mac and cheeses is enough to push even someone without a lactose allergy over the edge,” says Hayim. “Not only is the dairy gas-producing, but the fat in the dish is difficult and slow to digest. It may leave you feeling sluggish and bloated over the next day.”
Broccoli. Cauliflower. Bok choy. Brussel sprouts. Indeed, these are the veggies nutritional dreams are made of. But you might want to break up with them for date night. “They contain an ultra-healthy antioxidant called sulforaphane, which helps rid the body of toxins and carcinogenic cells, but date night isn’t the day,” say The Nutrition Twins. “There’s a reason sulforaphane sounds like sulfur; sulfur is the critical component in it —and is responsible for the odorous smell in cruciferous veggies— and that cause gas. Stick to [leafy] greens instead!” For more healthy foods that you better have small portions of, see our list of 20 Healthy Foods You Better Eat in Moderation.
We don’t mean to be Captain Obvious here, but onions are bad news as a date food. But frying ‘em? That’s even worse! “The oil used to coat and fry them adds fat that is hard to digest. The oil also loosens the esophageal sphincter, causing repeat, or burping,” offers Hayim. Ew.
Garlic Within 24 Hours of Your Date
No surprises here, folks. But many people think that if they ate it the day before a date, their breath is minty-clean. As it turns out, you might just be the Garlic Bread Breath Monster without even knowing it. “Avoid any dish with garlic in it for at least 24 hours before V-day or a big date. Many of our clients make a habit out of including garlic in their daily diets for garlic’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but forget to stop the habit the day before. The smell of garlic can emanate from the body for 24 hours,” explain The Nutrition Twins. Expert tip: “Apples and parsley are both natural breath fresheners,” suggests Lewis.
For sure, beans are a superstar superfood, but you might want to lay off of them when you have a date. “There’s a good reason they’re called the magical fruit. Beans contain a sugar molecule called oligosaccharides that are broken down in the large intestine and release different gas, making beans less than ideal before a date,” say The Nutrition Twins. Beans are, however, #15 on the list of 23 Healthy Foods Celebs Can’t Get Enough Of!
Finally checking out that dimly lit Indian spot you’ve always wanted to swing by? “If you aren’t used to the flavors of ethnic foods like Indian curry, these types of intense flavors can do a number on your gastrointestinal system. If you are looking to explore new flavors and spices, wait until after a special night out!” cautions Hayim.
Crunchers, back away from the veggie platter. “While crudités are a great option for weight loss and maintenance, raw veggies are very hard to digest, and can cause bloating, stomach pains, and gas,” says Hayim. Date night dinner? Stick to cooked veggies and one of these healthy chicken recipes.
Things That Are Hard to Eat
If you need special equipment to eat the food, then consider skipping it unless it’s super fun. (Cracking open crab legs might be okay. Pulling bones out of a whole fish is kinda nasty.) “Even if you’re an expert, your date probably isn’t. Avoid this awkward situation and go with something a bit more familiar,” cautions Lewis.
Along with the health benefits of quitting diet soda, another reason to avoid it is that it can sabotage your sexiness level. “Any ‘diet’ or ‘sugar-free’ item is going to be rich in sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are known to cause stomach upset, and too much can even cause diarrhea,” says Hayim. Running to the bathroom throughout dinner? Not so hot. Watch more motivation to steer clear with this video of 5 Shocking Things You Didn't Know About Soda.
A Mexican Fiesta
We know, we know: Margaritas, guacamole…it’s a fun meal to share! The key is to keep your portion size in check, that’s all. “A big Mexican meal with enchiladas, beans, fried tacos and all the works? Step away for date night,” warns DeFazio. “You will be sleepy, gassy and bloated. And definitely not in the mood for romance.”
Ingredients That Show Up in Your Smile
Red wine-stained lips or teeth are one thing and so common that it would be too much of a shame to pass up a nice Cab Sauv. But other items are worth the dismissal. “There’s nothing less attractive or inconspicuous than trying to pick spinach or corn on the cob out of your teeth on a date,” says Lewis. “And when you get to the dessert menu, avoid those with sticky substances like caramel apples or candied seeds.” And be sure to employ these brilliant dessert strategies for a happier, flatter belly.
Indeed, soup can be one of the healthiest weight loss foods, but when you’re getting it at a restaurant, that’s probably not the case. “Soups are the biggest culprit of added sodium in restaurants. The sodium causes you to retain water, leading to extreme bloating. This goes for even soups that appear healthy, like a vegetable soup,” advises Hayim.
We’d all like to think we’d look like an adorable Drew Barrymore with wing sauce all over her face, straight out of a romantic comedy movie, but it’s never that easy. And guys, this goes for you too because a lot of you aren’t so great about using napkins to clean your fingers instead of your pants or, worse, your mouth. “Skip the ribs or bbq wings, unless you think licking your fingers clean is attractive!” exclaims Lewis.
Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan
When your waiter parks a heaping portion of chicken or eggplant parm on the table caddy corner to yours, it’s hard not to “Oooh…” and order your own. But there’s good reason to order something else on date night: “The acid in dairy on top the frying process is terrible for indigestion. Skip the cheese and see if you can get it grilled instead,” explains Hayim. Or just order a grilled chicken. Even though it’s become more common to make custom requests at restaurants—and is one of the 20 Reasons It's Easier Than Ever to Lose Weight—it still might just be simpler to skip the parm-y plate altogether.
Foods That Make You Uncomfortable
Okay, we didn’t have to tap a top RD for this one, but it goes without saying: Don’t order anything that makes you squirm. It doesn’t matter how cute your new Tinder date is or how pushy your boyfriend is about sharing the bone marrow. If you gagged the last time you ate it, you don’t have to choke it down. It might be date night, but it’s still your tummy!