eating healthy at restaurants

Summer is full of opportunities for natural movement and fresh local foods.

However, there are also plenty of social gatherings at restaurants of all types that don’t follow the healthy ways of summer.

Everyone enjoys eating out, and you shouldn’t have to give that up! Instead of choosing between staying home or ruining your diet, use these five simple tips below to achieve nutrition success every time you eat out!

  • Be picky: Most restaurants are more than willing to make adjustments to their recipes; provided, they have the ingredients to do so. Asking for grilled chicken instead of fried chicken, broiled fish instead of beer-battered, or condiments lite or on the side are all great ways to reduce the high fat content found in many menu options.
  • Ask Questions: French fries and tater tots are not the only side option available! Although often not listed, many places will offer fresh fruit or a small salad as an alternative side at no additional cost. In addition, asking questions about how the meal is cooked or if any meal is prepared solely “in-house” can give further insight into the nutritional content of the meal. Foods that are prepared “in-house” use limited processed ingredients which can reduce the sodium and added sugar content of your meal.
  • Understand Menu Terms: Menus can be confusing by using food preparation terms you may have never heard of before. In fact, certain terms may indicate being cooked in high-fat butter or deep fried in oil. Below is a list of common menu terms and their health implication:
    • Au gratin, scalloped, buttered, creamed and stuffed can all indicate foods prepared in cream and butter. These foods are often higher in fat and calories and frequent consumption can lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.
    • Steamed, roasted, broiled, grilled and poached all utilize a dry heat cooking method and typically are lower in fat. These are the menu terms to look for when trying to select an entrée preparation method.
    • Au jus, pickled, smoked, cured can all imply high sodium. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
  • Drink Water: Studies have shown that drinking water throughout your meal helps fill you up and curb your appetite. People who drink water with their meals are less likely to overindulge in the main course. Next time you are at a restaurant, swap a high-sugar soft beverage for a glass of ice water. Ask your waiter for a slice of fresh lemon or lime to jazz up your water even more!
  • Look at the Menu Ahead: Some menus can be overwhelmingly large. When going to a new restaurant, look at the menu online ahead of time and decide what you are going to order. By planning ahead you will be more likely to choose a healthier meal, and less likely to impulse order that bacon cheeseburger because you ran out of time looking at the menu.

Eating out should be a fun experience but it doesn’t have to compromise your health!

The next time you are ordering out from a restaurant keep the tips above in the back of your mind. It is important to remember that an occasional cheeseburger or side of cheesy scalloped potatoes will not totally compromise your diet. The problem comes about when these foods become a part of your regular diet, and overtime can lead to serious health consequences.

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!

Click below to find out how you can benefit from 1 on 1 Nutrition Coaching!

[button link=”” text=”LEARN MORE” color=”green” size=”large” fullwidth=”true”]


7 replies
  1. Tex Hooper
    Tex Hooper says:

    I didn’t know that Au gratin foods were prepared with cream and butter. I am on a diet, but my wife wants to eat out at a restaurant this Friday. I’ll have to have a hard look at the menu before I choose something.

  2. Charlotte Fleet
    Charlotte Fleet says:

    Thank you very much for your tips on being healthy while eating out at restaurants. I love how you suggest drinking water while at a restaurant to help curb your appetite. I would imagine that it would be smart to choose a restaurant that offers healthy meals so that you can enjoy the experience of eating out while still being healthy about your food choices.

  3. Chris Pederson
    Chris Pederson says:

    It’s good to know that most restaurants will have other options that aren’t listed for sides and such, you just have to ask for them. This could maybe make my restaurant dining experiences better. I seem to never get along with the pre-picked menu items because they’ll have one or two things that I don’t like to eat.

  4. suraj malhotra
    suraj malhotra says:

    It was helpful when you explained the importance of greeting the guests at a restaurant as soon as they come through the front door. In my opinion, it would also be beneficial to invest in faux wood or leather covers for the menus to give diners the impression of professionalism from the moment they’re seated. The info you discussed here will be helpful to anyone looking to open a restaurant, so thanks for taking the time to share!

  5. We Sell Gyms
    We Sell Gyms says:

    Thank you for these helpful tips on staying healthy while eating out at restaurants. I liked the way you suggest drinking water at a restaurant to help curb your appetite.

Comments are closed.