16 Ways You Can Dine Out and Stay Healthy

To dine in or dine out, that is the question. As a future Registered Dietitian, I’m happy to offer my .02 on this subject! The politically correct answer (and not to mention healthier) is to cook at home. When you create the meals, you have control over the ingredients, and thus, can be smart about not adding in those extra sticks of butter or pinches of salt!

But while home cooked meals are great, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a night out on the town every once in awhile!

Healthy tips for eating at a restaurant

  • Choose red sauce over white sauce.
  • Choose baked, broiled, or grilled over fried.
  • Choose at least one vegetable as a side, instead of two starches.
  • Order sauces and dressings on the side, so that you control the amount.
  • Ask for half the amount of cheese they normally use.
  • Eat half your meal and take the rest home for later.
  • Order an an appetizer as your meal or split your meal with someone else.

At an Italian restaurant

  • Look for menu items with marinara sauce or even pesto. Pesto can be higher in fat, but is usually made with olive oil, which is a healthy fat.
  • Avoid cream sauces made of butter and parmesan, because they are often full of unhealthy fats.

At a Mexican restaurant

  • Avoid fried items like chalupas, taquitos, chili rellenos, etc. Look for items with grilled meats and veggies like chicken fajitas.
  • Choose salsa over queso dip, and consider replacing the refried beans with extra grilled veggies or a salad.
  • Go easy on the chips. A 3-ounce portion is about 400 calories!

At a Burger Joint

  • Ask for your bun without butter. It’s an easy way to save a few calories.
  • Order your sauces (mayo, ketchup, mustard) on the side.
  • Choose a single burger over a double or triple decker.
  • Go easy on the toppings! Cheese, bacon and other high fat toppings can add calories quickly. Stick to healthier alternatives like lettuce, tomato and onion.

Eating out doesn’t have to be completely unhealthy. It just requires you to spend a little time thinking about what the healthiest choice is for you!

How do you eat healthy while dining out?

Photo credit: TomsPix

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Lindsay is Registered Dietitian and writes about food and fitness at The Lean Green Bean. She shares healthy recipes, fun workouts, and snapshots of her life. She lives with her husband in Ohio and enjoys traveling and spending time outside with her dogs.