Published on June 10, 2021

Keep it Healthy When Eating Out

healthy plate of food

When eating out, you can almost always bet that your meal will be higher in fat and calories than when eating at home. Below are five tips to help keep you on track when eating out.

  1. Skip ordering sweet drinks. A large (30 oz.) tea or soda can have anywhere from 160-250 extra calories and between 40-60g of carbs! At most restaurants, it is hard to judge the amount of sugar added to sweeten tea. A better option would be to ask for unsweet tea and sweeten yourself with a non-calorie sweetener like Stevia. Try to avoid high fructose carbonated drinks and lemonade. Try tap water or sparkling water with mint, lemon or lime. Also, if you drink alcohol, limit it to one beverage.
  2. Avoid super-sizing your meal at fast food restaurants. Super-sizing your combo may seem like a good deal, but these larger size meals are much higher in calories, sugar, fat and sodium. Most restaurants post the calories on their menu, and you can easily consume your recommended daily calories in just one meal. Many restaurants offer “kid” or “value” menu options with fewer calories and less fat, but just as satisfying for your appetite and wallet.
  3. Ask for sauce on the side. Sauces, dressings, condiments, sour cream, butter, bacon and cheese can add fat and sodium to your meal. Ask for these items on the side and then use just enough to get the added flavor to your liking without overdoing the amount. For example, if the restaurant adds dressing to your salad, you could be looking at 200-400 additional calories. A helpful tip is to dip your fork in dressing or sauce before each bite.
  4. Ask for more vegetables. Vegetables are a great source of fiber. Ask for extra veggie toppings on burgers, pizzas, wraps and sandwiches. Substitute a leafy green salad or cooked vegetables for fries or white potatoes in any form.
  5. Plan ahead. Check the restaurant’s website for nutrition information on each dish. Search for healthier options that are higher in fiber, vitamins and protein and lower in fat, sugar, sodium and calories. Be careful with starters like appetizers, free chips and dip, or bread and butter prior to a meal. It can be easy to fill up on these without realizing it and limiting room for the main course. Many appetizers are high in carbs, fat and calories, which can leave you feeling hungry a lot sooner than eating a balanced, protein-rich meal. Also, plan ahead for desserts. If you know you might spurge on an appetizer or dessert, choose a lean protein and veggies for your main dish.

Five tips to help keep you on track when eating out.