29 Comments

When you’ve committed to revamping your health and lifestyle, one of the most important things is overhauling the way you eat. And when you’re in the kitchen, it’s a lot easier to stick to your healthy diet principles, especially when you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget. But most of us don’t eat every single meal at home.

Dining out is a way of catching up with friends and celebrating a momentous event with loved ones —  and, practically speaking, if you ever travel, are invited to business lunches colleagues or just get hungry when you’re not at home, it’s inevitable.

Is it really possible to eat out healthy?


Why It’s Difficult to Eat Healthfully When You Dine Out

Most of us know that we should avoid things like processed foods like deep-fried meals or dishes smothered in cheese when we dine out. But other choices can be tricky.

You might choose a salad believing it to be the healthy option, just to find out that it’s one of the unhealthiest salads loaded with calories and fat. Many restaurants don’t offer nutritional information. Your coworker might pick a restaurant for lunch with extremely limited healthy options for you to choose from.

And of course, there’s the social aspect and the pressure that comes along with it — no one wants to be that eater who everyone dislikes inviting out to dinner, and we’re often hesitant to order something different than everyone else for fear of being difficult or not going with the flow.

The way food is prepared is tough to know when you eat out, too. At most restaurants, the main mission for chefs is to make food that tastes good at the lowest cost possible. That often means low-quality cooking oils and excessive amounts of salt, along with ingredients that tend to add flavor to dishes cheaply, like cheese, dressings and breading.

But even if you’re eating on the town, it is possible to make healthy — or at least healthier ­—  decisions. Read on to find out how to eat out healthy.


15 Tips for How to Eat Out Healthy        

1. Look up the menu beforehand

If you know ahead of time where you’ll be dining out, check out the menu online before stepping anywhere near the restaurant. Healthy fast casual restaurants usually make nutritional information available, making it easier to pre-select a healthy option, and nearly every restaurant posts their menu online.

2. Call ahead with questions

If you can find a menu but not nutritional information online, call the restaurant ahead of time with questions or to make special requests.

Restaurants today are a lot more familiar with food allergies and dietary requests, and providing them with advance notice or knowing what they can accommodate will make the dining experience a lot more pleasant. It will also take the pressure off you when you’re ordering, and makes things easier for staff, who might feel flustered with a flurry of questions at the time they take your order.

3. Choose restaurants that are likely healthier 

Restaurants that advertise local ingredients, farm-to-table dishes and organic food likelier use better-quality ingredients and will be more accommodating to special requests. (And here are 10 chain restaurants you should never eat at!)

4. Snack before you go

If you’re starving when you sit down at a restaurant, it’s a lot easier to make unhealthy choices. Instead, have a filling snack about an hour before heading out, like a hard-boiled egg, hummus and vegetables or dried fruit and nut mix. Having some food in your belly means you won’t be tempted to order everything off the menu.

5. Go Paleo when eating out

Adopting a Paleo diet when dining out can help you eliminate a lot of problematic ingredients, like refined carbohydrates in the form of pasta and rice, cheese and sugary ingredients. It means you’ll focus on tasty veggies and meats instead.

6. Check how food is prepared

Certain cooking methods are a better option than others. Look for meals that are baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, sautéed, smoked or steamed. Alarm bells should go off if the meal is crispy, deep-fried, battered, breaded or coated (hello, flour, deep frying and canola oil!).

7. Become friendly with your server

Because you hopefully checked out the menu beforehand, you’ll know what sort of sides and swaps are available but, when in doubt, ask. Most servers are happy to make sure that your requests (within reason, of course!) are accommodated. And be sure to tip well for the extra assistance.

8. Pass on the bread basket

The bread basket is one of the most evil things a restaurant can do. It’s a terrific way to fill up on empty calories before your meal has even arrived. Whenever possible, take a pass on the bread basket — or salted nuts or tortillas or the other temptations.

9. Fill up with salad

Starting your meal with a salad as an appetizer is a smart way to enjoy healthy ingredients ­— if you choose right, that is. Opt for salads with lots of greens, raw veggies and raw nuts or seeds. Opt for an oil and vinegar dressing, or ask for the dressing on the side.

Where people run into trouble is by choosing salads that are filled with deli-style sliced meats, crispy chicken or other meats, salted or roasted nuts and seeds (which are often cooked with unhealthy oils), croutons, bacon and dressings that are high in sugar, mayonnaise and calories.

10. Skip the soup

While soups seem like a healthy option, most restaurant soups are loaded with cream, butter and cheese to give it that velvety smooth texture. Unless it’s a broth-based soup, like minestrone, you’re better off skipping the soup.

11. Make healthy swaps

Order a curry and ask for it over vegetables instead of rice. If you’re out for Mexican, skip the tortillas and chips, and focus on the meats, salsas and guacamole instead, or ask for a fajita served with extra veggies and no rice.

Having a burger? Swap the French fries for a side of veggies or salad instead. Focus on enjoying the main part of the meal, and exchange the unhealthier parts for something a little more waistline friendly.

12. Order veggies with that

Most of us aren’t getting enough vegetables on a daily basis. So when you’re out to eat, bulk up your meal with more veggies! Asking for double or even triple vegetables is an easy way to fill up on nutritious ingredients and a favorite trick of mine when I’m asked how to eat out healthy.

13. Skip sugary drinks and load up on water

Why drink your calories when you can eat them? Skip the soda and fruit juices and drink water throughout the meal instead. It’ll help you feel full and slow down your eating, making sure your brain gets the message that you’re full.

14. Choose alcohol wisely

If you’re drinking alcohol, choose a red wine or dark beer, since these alcohols can be good for you, or light-colored alcohols with mixers like soda water and fresh lime. Nix sugary mixers and cocktails, as those can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and contribute to that hangover feeling the next day.

No matter which alcohol you choose, remember to drink in moderation. Just a few glasses or pints can quickly add up to a full meal’s worth of calories before eating a thing.

15. Share a main dish or create your own

Portion sizes at restaurants can be massive and if it’s in front of you, you’re likelier to eat the whole thing. Instead, save some cash and cut out calories by sharing a dish with a friend.

If you’re not the food-sharing type, consider ordering two appetizers or creating your own main meal by selecting an appetizer and a side dish instead; most restaurants offer several veggie sides and when combined with an appetizer, are usually large enough to satisfy even the hungriest eaters.


So What Should You Order?

You might be wondering what I order so that I can eat out healthy. Here are my top picks:

What to Order at Burger Joints:

The options might not be too exciting, but you can still make healthier choices when you’re at a burger restaurant.

  • Grilled, not deep fried chicken salad with oil and vinegar
  • Grilled fish with tomato slices
  • A bun-less burger or a burger with lettuce “bread.” I often skip the veggie patties unless I know what they’re made with, as they’re often packed with soy and lots of grain fillers.

What to Skip at Burger Joints:

  • No condiments
  • Soda: go for water instead!
  • French fries
  • Deep-fried food
  • Milkshakes

What to Order at Chinese Restaurants:
If there’s no MSG in the food, Chinese restaurants can be reasonably healthy.

  • Brown rice or brown rice noodles
  • Steamed chicken
  • Sautéed veggies with brown rice or brown rice noodles
  • Stir-fried chicken or fish with veggies

What to Skip at Chinese Restaurants:

  • All of the deep-fried foods, including spring rolls
  • Dumplings
  • White rice
  • Stir-fries in sweet and sour sauces, which are packed with sugar

What to Order at Mexican Restaurants:

Luckily, Mexican dishes are full of healthy options.

  • Pinto or black beans, which are filling and full of fiber
  • Grilled chicken, fish or beef
  • Sautéed veggies
  • Guacamole and avocado slices
  • Brown rice
  • Salsa
  • Corn tortillas

What to Skip at Mexican Restaurants:

  • White flour tortillas, tostadas and chips
  • White rice
  • Dishes smothered in cheese
  • Meat-based gravies and sauces

At the end of the day, dining out should be a fun experience, especially if you do it infrequently. If you follow a healing foods diet and eat healthy at home 90 percent of the time, then going out for a meal on occasion isn’t going to throw you off track. You don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying a meal at a restaurant; use these as guidelines to respect your body but enjoy your food, too.


Final Thoughts

  • How to eat healthy when ordering out can be challenging, but some prep work and smart choices can help.
  • Research restaurants, menus and healthier options before arriving for your meal.
  • Skip bread baskets and other food “freebies”; fill up on healthy salads and broth-based soups instead.
  • Ask for extra veggies with everything!
  • Don’t drink calories. If you’re going to have alcohol, choose red wine, dark beers and clear liquor; skip sugary mixers and cocktails.
  • Consider sharing a meal with a friend or designing your own main dish.

29 thoughts on “15 Rules for How to Eat Out Healthy”

  1. Allison says:

    Hi, very nice website, cheers!
    ——————————————————
    Need cheap and reliable hosting? Our shared plans start at $10 for an year and VPS plans for $6/Mo.
    ——————————————————
    Check here: https://www.reliable-webhosting.com/

  2. sirgliofrei says:

    I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thanks, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

  3. I have read so many articles or reviews on the topic of the blogger lovers however this article
    is truly a good article, keep it up.

  4. A person essentially lend a hand to make significantly articles I might state.
    This is the very first time I frequented your website page and up to now?
    I surprised with the research you made to create this particular submit extraordinary.

    Excellent process!

  5. There is definately a lot to learn about this subject.
    I love all of the points you have made.

  6. Remarkable issues here. I’m very satisfied
    to look your post. Thanks so much and I am having a look ahead to touch you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  7. ps4 games says:

    Hi, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this post. It was funny.
    Keep on posting!

  8. ps4 games says:

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great
    author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back
    someday. I want to encourage you to continue your great writing, have a nice evening!

  9. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your site on my
    iphone during lunch break. I love the knowledge you provide
    here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my phone ..

    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, superb site!

  10. Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I wish to say that
    this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do
    so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, quite
    great article.

  11. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be
    running off the screen in Chrome. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought
    I’d post to let you know. The design look great though!
    Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Kudos

  12. I read this piece of writing completely on the topic of the comparison of latest and
    earlier technologies, it’s amazing article.

  13. This design is steller! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
    almost…HaHa!) Excellent job. I really enjoyed what you
    had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  14. Hi superb website! Does running a blog similar to this
    require a lot of work? I’ve absolutely no knowledge of coding but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, should you have any ideas or techniques for
    new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject but
    I just needed to ask. Thanks!

  15. Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information about this subject for a while and yours is the
    greatest I’ve found out so far. However, what about the bottom line?
    Are you certain in regards to the source?

  16. I’m gone to inform my little brother, that he should also visit
    this weblog on regular basis to get updated from most up-to-date reports.

  17. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and
    tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop,
    just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  18. ps4 games says:

    My brother recommended I might like this website.

    He was entirely right. This post actually made my day.
    You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info!
    Thanks!

  19. ps4 games says:

    I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.

    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be
    delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly
    the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.

  20. When someone writes an paragraph he/she maintains the idea of a user in his/her mind that how a user can understand it.
    So that’s why this paragraph is perfect. Thanks!

  21. ps4 games says:

    Good day! I just would like to give you a
    big thumbs up for your excellent information you have got right
    here on this post. I’ll be returning to your website for more soon.

  22. ps4 games says:

    It’s remarkable for me to have a web site, which is good in support of my experience.
    thanks admin

  23. ps4 games says:

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a superb article… but
    what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t manage to
    get anything done.

  24. ps4 games says:

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to go
    back the want?.I am attempting to in finding issues to improve my website!I guess its ok to make use of some of your ideas!!

  25. ps4 games says:

    Excellent blog here! Also your web site loads up fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link
    to your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast
    as yours lol

  26. ps4 games says:

    Greetings I am so happy I found your blog page, I really found
    you by accident, while I was searching on Yahoo for something
    else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thanks for
    a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also
    love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all
    at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added in your
    RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read
    more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  27. Excellent blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a
    little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with
    a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m
    completely overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Thanks a lot!

  28. fuck says:

    hi!,I like your writing very so much! share we keep up a correspondence more approximately your article on AOL?

    I need a specialist in this area to solve my problem. May be that is you!
    Taking a look ahead to peer you.

  29. I’m gone to convey my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this blog on regular basis to obtain updated from hottest gossip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.