As a nutritionist, I get asked for healthy eating tips while dining out quite frequently. Here I’ve listed 11 tips for healthy eating at restaurants no matter where you go!
11 Healthy Eating Tips when Dining Out
“how do you eat healthy when you go out to eat!?”
i get asked this question all. the. time. and honestly I’ve never thought twice about the little health tricks and tips I use until people point them out and say “that’s such a good idea!” — so of course I wanted to put my healthy eating tips on the blog for you all! i also share lots of healthy tips and cooking hacks on my instagram if you’re looking for more 🙂
now, before reading this… you have know that in order to successfully apply these tips you have to be ok with annoying the waiter
a little a lot. I usually end up micromanaging the chef or waiter into creating something totally off the menu by the end of my requests, but it’s always worth it! which brings me to healthy eating tip number one:
Substitute Anything and Everything
you can see all the ingredients the restaurant has by simply looking at the menu. when you ask nicely, the waiter will usually work with you to make something up as long as they have the ingredients. for example, if i see they have goat cheese on a salad but all of the sandwiches have cheddar, swiss, whatever — i get the goat cheese. or ill sub avocado for my cheese because i love my healthy fats!
Hold the Butter Please
ask how things are prepared before you order. for example, if i order a toasted sandwich i ask if the buns are toasted in oil or butter and usually I get a yes. i don’t have anything against these foods (especially EVOO!) but sometimes it really is unnecessary and doesn’t add anything to my meal.
alway ask for lettuce wraps! most restaurants have lettuce somewhere in the back. even if it’s not the highest quality lettuce or most nutritious of greens, it’s probably still the better option. especially if there are only fatty cuts of meat where you’re dining.
i always ask for my tacos to be in lettuce wraps too because i know i’m gonna eat all my rice, beans, guac, chips, salsa, etc! i prefer to make room in my stomach for those items instead of tortillas, but that’s just me!
Create your own dressing
dilute your dressing with vinegar or add lots of fresh lemon to the dressing. you just have to ask for these items on the side and they always bring them out! my dressing of choice really depends on the meal i’m having.
for example, i’ll sometimes replace or supplement my dressing with salsa or hot sauce at a mexican place. you can also mix olive oil, vinegar and lemon for a more traditional dressing substitute. sometimes i’ll throw in chili flakes too!
Bulk With The Good
when ordering pasta or rice dishes, supplement half of the rice or pasta with veggies — like in this recipe. veggies fill you up fast because of their fiber content and all their roughage. you’re basically forced to stop eating sooner because of how much room they take up in your stomach.
on pizza, load up on the sauce and veggies! (if you like pizza sauce that is) the more you can fill your stomach with nutritious foods, the less room you’ll have for the less nutritious stuff.
Steamed > Roasted, Sautéed or Fried
as i said before, i’m definitely NOT against healthy oils and fats in my meals. my diet consists of about 50% fat, but if you have the option, steamed veggies are the purest and cleanest form you can order (aside from raw..but who wants that? haha). normally you already have some sort of sauce or flavors on your plate from your main meal, so why not soak up that flavor with your steamed veggies!?
Cheese & Nuts
ask for them on the side! restaurants typically have no idea what normal portion sizes look like, and they think everyone and their mother wants 10 lbs of cheese or nuts on their dish… some guests don’t! or they don’t have the willpower to resist it if it’s on their plate. this happens to me a lot at asian restaurants. ill order curry and instead of garnishing with some cashews they give me a whole bag haha. i LOVE cashews… a little too much, so i end up eating them all and then feel sick afterwards. plus i like to save room for dessert — specifically my carrot cake cupcakes or homemade peanut butter cups 🙂
LOTS of lemon for your water
hydration is SO important, and water is a natural way to cleanse your body. if you’re eating out and having a hard time avoiding unhealthy foods, drink lemon water to help with digestion. plus it keeps you full, too! there are a million health benefits to lemon water that you can find all over the web.
Go Light on the Sauce
you can always add more, but you can never put it back. ask for light sauce and if you want more they can always bring it out.
Fish or Chicken > Red Meat
first of all, i love red meat, and i’m definitely not saying to never eat it! but if you have the option, fish and chicken are usually the healthier option. they’re both packed with protein and fish offers healthier fats than red meat does. both of these proteins can be made so flavorful, too! i especially love healthy honey garlic chicken.. YUM.
if all else fails, split your meal! portion control is the most important part of healthy living. you should never deprive yourself of any foods — whether you think they’re “bad” or “good” — it’s all about moderation. eating intuitively is the MOST important takeaway from this. listen to your body — it knows what it needs (not what you want) 😉
healthy choices aren’t always easy to make — especially when dining out, but i hope these healthy eating tips gave you some new ideas to try! for more tips and tricks, follow along on instagram where I share my daily meals, cooking tips and health hacks.