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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Healthy Restaurant Eating

PTQGNTDJCYNV - Is it possible to eat healthy at restaurants? Absolutely! But it does take some careful ordering and possibly some discipline. Many of my clients do great when they’re cooking at home, but once that menu is in their hands, their healthy eating habits go out the window. Restaurants serve decadent foods in extra-large portions that make it so hard to stay on track. Fortunately there are a few things that you can do to make your dining experience more nutritious. Whether it’s at your favorite diner, a fast food establishment, or a fine restaurant, eating healthy is possible!

Whenever possible, start by choosing a place that you know offers a few healthier choices. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, so you just have to do the best you can. Most chain restaurants now offer their nutrition stats on-line, so check them out beforehand so you can make an informed decision.

Restaurants aim to please the customer so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need! When dining out, try some of the following tips:

  • Ask for a to-go box early in the meal. I always ask for a box the minute my plate is set down. Even if you don’t plan on taking the box with you, you can put half your meal inside so that it is out of sight, out of mind—that way, you won’t tempted to keep nibbling.
  • Don’t automatically order high-calorie drinks, appetizers, or attack the bread basket. Your main dish is likely going to be more than enough. Drink calorie-free beverages as a general rule.
  • Ask for whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice. Many restaurants are now making these choices available.
  • Avoid dishes that have the words fried, sautéed, creamy, or Parmesan. These options tend to be high in calories and fat.
  • Instead choose dishes that are prepared by roasting, baking, broiling, grilling, or steaming. These preparation methods normally utilize less fat and, therefore, lead to fewer calories.
  • Add vegetables to your meals: Choose vegetable pizza, vegetable soups, salads, sandwiches with extra veggies, vegetable burritos, or simply ask for some veggies on the side!
  • When at a fast food establishment choose side options such as the salads (light or fat-free dressing), plain baked potatoes, or a veggie burger. If you must have the fries, split them or throw half out on the way to your seat.

Dining out with friends and family is an important part of anyone’s social life, so make it fun! Choose healthier options and watch your portion sizes for a delicious and healthy meal. Enjoy!

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Restaurant Nutrition

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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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