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Eat Healthy When Dining OutEat Healthy When Dining Out


Eat Healthy When Dining Out

Create a go-to list.

Create a list of restaurants you enjoy that also allow you to stay on track with your fitness goals. Think about the places that offer smaller portions, provide plenty of salads and vegetables, or that cater to eating styles like vegetarian, paleo, or gluten-free. All of these factors can indicate that the restaurant is a place with a focus on healthy eating. When you are invited to go out, you can suggest a place on your list to ensure you will have healthy options.

Pay attention to the total nutritional value.

Don’t get sidetracked by thinking only about calories instead of the total nutritional value of what you order. For example, a house salad made with iceberg lettuce may save you calories, but you will likely be hungry soon after eating. A salad topped with salmon and avocado carries a higher calorie content, but also provides lean protein and heart-healthy fat to keep you feeling satisfied. Pay attention to all the positive nutritional aspects of your options. Order a meal that is balanced in nutrients without going overboard on calories and unhealthy fat.

Ask for smaller portions.

Not all restaurants advertise smaller portions or the option of splitting a meal, but many will accommodate requests. Half orders of pasta, ordering a sandwich a la carte, or paying a small fee to split a large entree are all ways you can cut calories and still enjoy the foods you want.

Leave off high-calorie additions.

Many restaurant meals have extras that can be removed without drastically changing the meal. Ask for your portobello burger without cheese or mayo, leave the cheese or tortilla strips off of the taco salad, or eat your sandwich open-faced without the top bun. These small changes can save you hundreds of calories.

Don’t drink your calories.

Drinking soda, sweetened iced tea or lemonade is an easy way to consume hundreds of extra calories before you even eat your meal. Plus, free refills can cause you to easily lose track of your intake. Stick with water or unsweetened iced tea and put the focus on mindfully eating your food.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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