First off, it’s important to eat the foods that you enjoy but it’s also important you know How To Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out!
Balance and mindfulness are key parts of healthy eating. Here are some tips on how to make healthy choices when eating out.
Indulging however, doesn’t mean going overboard and feeling crappy the next day. I’m not saying don’t ever get the fries or milkshake but if you eat out often or you have stomach issues, fatigue or remorse the next day, it can add up and impact your health goals. There are strategies and ways to be mindful to prevent these situations.
As a dietitian, it’s important for me to meet you where you are at. It’s not always realistic for everyone to pack a lunch, pick the healthy restaurants every time or give up some of the junky meals. I know I like to enjoy a milkshake, glass of wine and fried food every once in awhile.
So here are a few tips and ideas for when dining out!
Healthy Choices When Eating Out Tips:
1. Check the menu out before your go
-Download CalorieKing, MyFitnessPal, or check out the restaurant’s website. Have an idea of what you want and if there are ways to make it more aligned with your health goals, go for it!
2. Swap sides or sauces out
-Ask about veggie substitute sides and order sauces/dressings on the side so you can have control over the amount. I do the “dip your fork” method in sauces and dressing providing just as much flavor without the drenching.
3. Ask the server about your options
-In the words of BK, “Have It Your Way”. Don’t hesitate to ask for accommodations or substitutes. Servers are usually more than happy to make it happen. For example, I ask for extra veggies as sides, or have the restaurant add veggies to omelets, sandwiches, pasta dishes, etc.
4. Control portion sizes
-Have them bring your to-go box early, share a meal, order smaller option or kid’s size. As we know, most meals are way too large for one serving, having them box up 1/2 to begin with gets your an extra meal without the temptation to pick at it and mindlessly eat it all.
5. Skip the not-so healthy things, that aren’t important to you
-Drinks, desserts, heavy sides, appetizers or sauces can add up quick. If you choose a fried appetizer try making a compromise elsewhere like skipping dessert. Choose what’s more important and satisfies your craving!
6. Slow Down
-Chew your food, drink water, socialize, be mindful. It’s easy when the food is so good to forget to put your fork down and give your stomach a break to digest. Take your time when dining out.
7. Order first! Or take the lead when choosing where to eat
-Don’t let other people’s order impact your decision. You may have different health goals and preferences! Select a place that has healthier options you enjoy if you are concerned about making better choices.
Live in Northern Colorado? Here are some of my healthy options in Greeley, Colorado!
Healthy Choices at Chain Restaurants
Burrito or Fajita Bowls skip the tortilla or rice and sub with beans (complex carb, more fiber and protein)
Salads (light on high calorie toppings like sour cream, cheese, sauces)
Tacos (light on high calorie toppings)
Berry Burst Salad (dressing on the side or 1/2)
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad (dressing on the side or 1/2)
Grilled Chicken Wrap
Small Chili, Garden Salad, Apple Slices
Plain Baked Potato with Small Chili
Grilled Chicken Wrap
Anything from the Fresh Fit Menu
Any Salad with Lean Protein (dressing on the sides, light on high calorie toppings)
6-Inch Subs with Veggies and Lean Protein (skip the chips, cookies and soda)
Egg Cheese Muffin
Grilled Nuggets with Apple Slices or Superfood Salad
Grilled Market Salad
Chicken Noodle Soup with Apple Slices or Superfood Salad
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Egg White Grill
Greek Yogurt Parfait
Thin crust, load up on veggies, add a lean protein topping like shredded chicken or ground meat (sausage and pepperoni don’t count) and pair with a salad
½ Sandwiches (skip the chips, cookies and soda)
Grilled Chicken with Green Beans
KFC Famous Bowl Snack Size with Side Salad
Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad (dressing on the side)
Grilled Ranch Snack Wrap
Grilled Chicken Salad, Wrap, Sandwich (skip the fries, soda)
Single Hamburger with Garden Side Salad
BK Veggie Burger or 6 Chicken Nuggets on Salad
Tender Chicken Garden Salad
Load up on steamed veggies, a lean protein and less rice/chow-mein
Broccoli Chicken, Beef Broccoli, Chicken Teriyaki with Veggies
Snack Size of the Traditional Wings and Load Up on Carrots and Celery
Naked Tenders with Veggie Sticks
Grilled Chicken Wrap with Tomato Cucumber Salad or Garden Salad
Lettuce Wrap Burger or Grilled Chicken
Single Burger or Grilled Chicken Burger
Guiltless Grill Menu
Soups- Broth Based, Veggies, Lean Protein
Avocado, Egg White and Spinach Sandwich
Salads (dressing on side, light on high calorie toppings)
½ Sandwiches, Load up on Veggies and Lean Protein
Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Egg White Breakfast Sandwich
Spinach Egg White Wrap
Fresco Style Crunchy Tacos
Grilled Chicken Salad
Loaded Veggie Omelet
Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad
Classic Roast Beef Sandwich
Light Fare Menu
Chicken, Crusted Fish with Veggies on the Side
Grilled Chicken Salads
Egg Whites and Veggies with Fruit
Scrambled Eggs with Yogurt or Small Oatmeal or Slice of Whole Grain Toast
Burger Load Up on Veggie Toppings
Load the Plate up with Veggies (think about what food options are important, don’t waste calories on foods that aren’t great)
Search for leaner cuts of meat
Prioritize which carb sides are important
Grilled Salmon with Veggies
Order a Side or Kids Serving of Pasta, Add Veggies and Lean Protein
Lean 6oz Steak, Chicken or Grilled Shrimp with Veggies and Plain Sweet Potato
Half these entrees:
Asian Grilled Salmon or Steamed Salmon
Lemon Chicken or Scallops
Chang’s Spicy Chicken
Orange Peel Beef
Hong Kong Beef
Half Order of your Favorite Seafood, Broiled with a Veggie Side
Salads (dressing on side)
Lettuce Wrap or Open Faced Burger (change out sides, light on sauces/cheese/toppings)
Bowls/Boxes: Lean Protein, Veggies, Light on Carb (rice/noodles)
Salads (dressing on side)
½ Sushi Rolls
These aren’t all the healthy choices when eating out or the only places you should go, just some of my top favorites to spark ideas!