Eating Out

What a Registered Dietitian Recommends

I enjoy eating out on occasion, especially to spend time with my husband or to get a chance to catch up with friends and/or family! When you are health-conscious or trying to lose weight, eating out can be challenging. It can be difficult to make healthy food choices, especially if it is a restaurant that does not cater to your specific health needs. Although challenging, eating healthy while dining out is doable. There are several things you can do before your food reaches you to assist with making a healthy food practice. 

Lighter choices

First, check to see if the menu has a “Lighter Fare” or “Less than 500 Calories” section. If so, make your food selections from there. If no “Lighter Fare” or “Less than 500 Calories” section is available at the restaurant, order foods from the “Appetizer” section of the menu. These foods come in much smaller portions which mean fewer calories you consume when eating them. Second, choose baked, broiled, and/or grilled entrées and vegetables. Also, choose menu items with chicken, fish and/or meatless entrees over beef and pork dishes. 

Take it home

Second, you can request a to-go container after you place your food order. If you do so, you can place half your meal in the container. The leftovers can be eaten as another meal later in the day or the next day. If dining with friends or family, order an entrée and share it with them. This way you would be eating a smaller amount than you normally would consume by yourself. 

Drink water

Third, you can drink a glass of water while waiting for your meal to arrive. Also, you can order a salad to eat prior to the meal arriving to the table. Both will help fill you up so that you are less likely to finish the entrée you ordered. 

Skip the pre-meal peanuts, breads, and chips

Lastly, you can refrain from eating bread, tortilla chips, nuts and/or any other food items that are brought out to the table prior to the meal. These items are usually high in fat and/or sodium and contribute to additional calories consumed outside of your main meal. Always request salad dressing, sauces, condiments, and cheese or bacon toppings on the side. If you do, you can control how much you eat of these food items.