9 Tips to Eat Healthy at Restaurants!

He’s ready to take your order…

It’s difficult enough to eat healthy at home – even when you are in control of the ingredients being used. But dining out at a restaurant presents a real challenge for health-minded individuals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or really just maintain a healthy lifestyle, try making use of these top 9 tips:

  1. Play on your own turf. Not all restaurants are created equal. Opt for restaurants that value nutrition, and browse the menu online before you go. Ensure that there are healthy options that appeal to you.
  2. Start smart. Fried calamari and potato skins might be tempting, put go for a soup or salad instead. If ordering soup, select a tomato or stock-based option (rather than one made with cream). For salad, order dressing on the side. A great tip for eating salad: Dip your fork in the dressing, and then scoop up some salad. It’s just enough dressing to add flavor without overloading your meal with calories and fat.
  3. Learn the language. Unhealthy options are often disguised. Words like “crispy,” “alfredo,” “breaded,” and “pan-fried” generally indicate unhealthy choices. Look for words like “grilled,” “steamed” and “baked.”
  4. Speak up. Eating healthy may require asking for substitutes. The chicken sandwich may come with a pile of fries, but you can ask for vegetables or salad as a substitute instead. You can ask for fried foods to be grilled, and dressings or sauces on the side.
  5. Don’t drink your calories. Fruity drinks and soda are packed with calories. Water is always the best option. If you’re going for an alcoholic drink, opt for wine or light beer.
  6. Speaking of water, drink lots of it. Water has a slew of great benefits. It boosts your metabolism, curbs your appetite and slows down your eating. Your stomach is full 15 minutes before your brain realizes it – so water does wonders to prevent overeating.
  7. Know your meat. It’s always best to select leans meats. Prime rib is loaded with fat (in fact, it’s one of my top 5 unhealthiest holiday foods); filet mignon or flank steak are much healthier. Poultry is a great option, but order it without skin (the skin adds a quick 8 grams of fat). Order breast meat (instead of thigh meat) whenever possible.
  8. Look for healthy selections. Restaurants often have a section of their menu to showcase healthy options. Other restaurants designate certain menu options with a symbol if they meet healthy guidelines. Ask your waiter or waitress for guidance.
  9. Share a happy ending. Sorbet or non-dairy gelato are much healthier than that triple chocolate layer cake with vanilla ice cream. And there’s no harm in sharing a dessert with your dinner partner. Splitting the calories halves the damage!

Do you have any tips for eating healthy at restaurants? I’d love to hear ‘em. Let us know in the comments below!

And for more nutrition information, download my Eating For Fitness ebook today!

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 100 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. You forgot something apropos of modern day America that serves portions twice as big as 30 or 40 years ago… take half of it home in a doggie bag for lunch the next day!

  2. I’ve heard that drinking water with your meals dilutes the acid in your stomach. Any thoughts on that?

  3. Go easy on the basket of bread! As tempting as those breadsticks, cheese biscuits, bread and butter, or cinnamon butter rolls may be, try to stray away from gorging on them before your healthy meal comes. Because the meal isn’t going to cancel out the effects of your unhealthy option prior. Try having just one and go easy on the butters and other spreads. Usually (the economy helps you out here) the waitor brings one item in the basket for each person at the table. Tell them that that is all you’ll need and quit while you’re ahead so you’re not tempted when they bring you a warm fresh basket two seconds after you demolish the first one. :)
    Hope this tip is worthwhile to this post!
    Love ya Davey!
    Sean :

  4. When you see that big portion and say I’ll only eat half, ask the server to put half to go BEFORE you start so you won’t be tempted to eat it all.

  5. Agree with the previous commentators regarding portion size. As a non American I am always stunned by how enormous portions are in the US. And funny enough – it is usually the worst foods that come in big portions.

    Ask for half to take away in your doggie bag (not very common where I come from – so enjoy that liberty if you can) OR do what my parents do when in the US – start using the term “to share”. With everything. Neither of them is overweight, but they find that a typical meal is more than plenty for two. You will get a few funny looks, lube them down with a nice tip and everyone will be happy.

    The other trick I found is earning your right to go to a restaurant. I’m not a big fan of going to a nice restaurant and ending up with chicken breast and salad. I want to expereicne all the lovely food the place has to offer.. SO what I do is go a lot less frequently, and set me some milestones (in terms of weight I want to lose, or how many miles I want to run) before I earn my right to eat out. Works like magic. Everything tastes nicer and it’s also kinder on the wallet.

  6. bullwinklemoos says:

    Great tips.

    For the drinks- on top of healthier options like skim milk and water, I also recommend unsweetened iced tea (although it most likely will have caffeine in it) and some places even offer soda water, which is just bubbling water without the flavoring/calories.

  7. Self control is the key!Eat to live NOT live to eat.I follow the 80-20 rule. Why is everything good in life illegal, immoral or unhealthy ??? L.O.L. Glenn

  8. Shekinah Love says:

    You could skip the meat all together and eat a low fat vegetarian or even better, a vegan meal. No cholesterol….and cutting out the dairy cuts out MOST of the fat in meals….also try and avoid foods cooked with too much oil. Heated oil is never good for you….

  9. Good ideas Davey and in the replies. Just thought I’d add a couple more:

    Before ordering – make sure you drink a glass or two of water water beforehand as it will leave you feeling a little fuller so you don’t eat so much in one sitting.

    Also, don’t wolf down your meal, cut it into small pieces and make sure you chew it all – but don’t dissect it into the tiniest pieces taking you 2hours to eat it all… (coz that’s just annoying for everyone who has to wait on you to finish) :P Kath

  10. if you know ahead of time that youll be dining in a restaurant, have a glass of skim milk n protein powder and hour or so before you leave, or eat an apple on the way…

    ~ cheers…

  11. christopher says:

    these helpful hints are very good to remember-i should print this out and take it everytime i go out.—one dilemma i have at this time of year.its winter-and its hot soup season.whether eating out or at home-soup-either canned-ramen noodle or dry packaged soups seem to have few low-sodium choice or variety.i know there are some out there.do you know where i should go to purchase low-sodium soups?and which restaurants offer low-sodium choice?

  12. christopher says:

    oh-theres another thing i dont seem to understand-there are a couple of jock guys that work at our place of employment.they often eat fast food Mc Donalds for breakfast or lunch-lg vanilla ice coffee-Big Macs-Quarter Pounders etc etc.they both have smoking bodies-six-pack abs.how can they eat all this-yet maintain an adonis physique?

  13. I hate to be a troll on a useful subject but American English really gets my goat as an Englishman. Please say “eat healthily” not “eat healthy” unless theres some new super food I am not aware of called healthy!

  14. Well we Americans find phrases like “get my goat” very stuffy and and overly proper.

    We won the Revolutionary War so we get to talk however we want!

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  1. [...] more information, check out my 9 tips to eat healthy at a restaurant or the top 12 words to avoid on restaurant menus. About Davey Wavey Davey Wavey is a certified [...]

  2. [...] tell my clients to define their obstacles. For example, eating out at restaurants can be a huge challenge for someone looking to lose weight. But once you’ve defined the potential problem, you can [...]

  3. [...] be between eating out and proper nutrition. There are certainly steps that each of us can take to ensure healthier restaurant meals. Like drinking water instead of sugary drinks or alcohol. And sticking with baked or broiled [...]

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