Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Eating at a restaurant doesn't have to sabotage your healthy diet. Use smart-eating strategies:
Plan ahead. Consider the menu and choose foods carefully. Have a plan. Eat a light dinner if you at
e a big lunch that day. Or, if you know ahead of time that you're going to a restaurant, plan to have lighter meals during the day. Knowing menu terms and cooking basics makes ordering easier, especially if you have special dietary needs.
Think ahead. Consider meal options at different restaurants and look for places with a wide range of menu items. Check online menus, if available, for nutrition information ahead of time.
Be deliberate when ordering. Balance your meal by including healthier selections from all the different food groups such as lean protein foods, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Look for freshly made entrée salads that give you "balance in a bowl." For example, entrée salads with baked or grilled chicken, beans or seafood provide protein along with fiber and other nutrients. Ask for dressing on the side so you can control the portion size. For sandwich toppings, go with veggie options including lettuce, tomato, avocado and onion; if using condiments, choose ketchup, mustard, relish or salsa. Round out your meal by ordering healthy side dishes, such as a side salad, baked potato or fruit. Boost the nutritional value of your baked potato by topping it with vegetables, salsa or chili.
Substitute. Ask for a side salad with dressing on the side to replace fries in a combination meal. Many restaurants honor requests, so don't be afraid to be assertive, ask menu questions and make special requests to meet your nutritional needs.
Control portions. Many restaurants serve huge portions, sometimes enough for two or three people. Eat a smaller portion and bring leftovers home for another meal. Or, order an appetizer in place of an entrée and add a small soup or salad.
Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are no longer hungry. Fast eaters often are over-eaters, while slow eaters tend to e
at less and are still satisfied.