How to order healthy at a restaurant – Top five tips you haven’t already heard

My favorite healthy dining out option - Jason's Deli

I actually like to prepare all of my meals at home. I like to eat healthy meals and know exactly what is going into my food, ensure my ingredients are fresh and cook without butter, while still making the food taste amazing. However, there is something nice about going out to eat and knowing that I don’t have to slave over the stove or clean up afterwards. But, going out to eat provides a minefield of unhealthy options and diet traps.

 So, what’s a girl to do? I’m sure you have already heard all of the common diet advice when it comes to eating out, like “avoid cream-based sauces” and “order chicken grilled rather than fried.” Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all of that too, but I want to share my top five tips for eating healthy while dining out that you may have not heard before:

  1. Plan Ahead – If I am eating somewhere new, I’ll check the menu out on their website and plan what I’m going to eat. If the restaurant is a chain they may be listed on The Daily Plate, which is a comprehensive website that lists the nutritional content of many foods. Planning ahead ensures that I’m not thrown by the sights, smells and descriptions of unhealthy food when I arrive.
  2. Invest in Tupperware – I always bring my own salad dressing with me when I go out to eat. I put about two tablespoons of my light raspberry vinaigrette in a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and throw it in my purse. It acts as my security blanket. While I may not always use it, I always know I have a fall-back if the only healthy item on the menu is a salad with full-fat dressing.
  3. Choose your evil –Bread, chips, desserts and appetizers, oh my! There is so much temptation when going out to eat, if you give in to it all, you will have consumed an entire days worth of calories before your main dish even arrives! If I choose to indulge that evening, I will decide beforehand if I want to have a piece of bread, small appetizer or dessert, but not all three.
  4. Get picky –Even though I’m sure waiters are not fond of my lengthy ordering process, I always customize my order. I order sauces and dressing on the side and request everything “dry”, which means no added butter or oil. I don’t feel embarrassed by it because I’m spending a lot of money to go out to eat and I have the right to “have it my way.” (even if I’m not at Burger King.)
  5. “It’s not an option” – This is what I tell myself when I scan the menu and am tempted by some of the mouthwatering descriptions like “Mile High Chocolate Pie.” I just repeat to myself “It is not an option.” It saves a lot of grief if you are not agonizing over the decision to order healthy.

 Try out some of these tips the next time you go out to eat and don’t feel embarrassed for making special requests. You deserve to treat yourself well and be healthy! Do you have any secrets up your sleeve when it comes to ordering healthy when going out to eat? I’d love to hear from you, please share your tips.

2 thoughts on “How to order healthy at a restaurant – Top five tips you haven’t already heard

  1. Ask for a take home box to come WITH your meal! I’m a pretty big eater but most restaurant portions are monstrous! When the meal arrives divide it in half, put half into your take home box right away, and then enjoy the rest. Nice way to stretch your food budget too 🙂

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