Tips for Healthy Restaurant Eating

When eating out, it is easy to forget common sense and helpful to have a list of tips.  Here are some wonderful ways to stay on the healthy path when being a restaurant-goer.

    •  Go by the “plate method:” have your plate look perfect by asking for it to be filled with ¼ starch (high fiber, non-white choices), ¼ lean protein (skinless poultry, fish, lean meat), ½ vegetables (let’s go steamed greens!)
    •  Order an appetizer rather than an entree-all of our portions are bloated as it is, so that is usually what a full meal should look like.
    •  If you order an entree portion- eat 50% of it (sources say the average entree at a restaurant has 1600 calories, so even by eating half you are at 800 already without making the other suggested changes on this list.
    • Ways to avoid eating it all include: 
  • Box the rest of it immediately and save it for lunch the next day
  •   Dump something unappealing on top of it like sugar on top of chicken, or
  • Ask a server to take it away as soon as you are finished 
  • Order dressing on the side with any salad (vinegar-based dressings are better than creamy or just opt for olive oil/vinegar on the side.)  
  • By dipping each bite in, you cut the fat by some 50%.
  • Vegetables are best steamed or grilled and when in doubt, explain to them: “light on the oil and butter.”  
  • Avoid sauces, especially with cream in them.  Tomato sauce oftentimes has hidden sugar.  Light, lemony sauces are usually OK.  If you are not sure, order it on the side and apply the dressing dip method to be safe.
  •  With fish, use lemon juice to flavor and maybe mix in Dijon mustard or some more taste
  •  Bread basket is a common mistake-people are hungry when they sit down and so they eat what is in front of them.  Just ask them to take it away or refrain from munching on the empty calories.
  • Desert should be avoided unless everyone is ordering and you cannot refrain; choose fresh berries or a few bites of sorbet.
  • Alcohol should be limited or avoided as it is empty, often sugary calories that lead to over-eating.  And sometimes an unwanted headache the next day:)
  • Pay attention to the visual cues listed in your program binder under Healthy Tips.  Those are a great way to measure your food without anyone knowing.
  • Be verbal.  Talk to your server about how you want your meal prepared.  It does not always have to follow the menu!  Don’t be embarrassed to make changes either because you may be encouraging the person next to you to follow in suit and be healthier as well.
  • It may sound like an awful lot of restriction and sacrifice, but you can have a great tasting meal even when making these changes.
NutritionAshley Pettit