How to Eat Healthy When You’re Eating Out: Eating Healthy in Restaurants

You Can Have It All

Congratulations! You have decided to make healthy lifestyle changes and eat better. You’re on your way to a healthy and happier you. If you thought that eating healthy meant not eating out, you thought wrong. There’s no reason you have to give up eating out in order to be healthy.

If you’re going to be eating well for life, you have to make your diet fit your life. Don’t try to make your life fit your diet. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to stick with your healthy eating plans for the long haul.

When you see the word "diet" here, it’s being used to refer to making healthy changes to your eating habits. To learn more about the difference between an unhealthy diet versus healthy lifestyle changes, check out this article: How to Know if You’re Dieting or Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes.

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This lesson you learned in preschool is not just good for making friends. It’s also great if you’re watching your weight. The portion sizes for most menu items are out of control to the point that we don’t even know what a serving size is anymore. In many cases what you get on your plate is two to four servings.

The problem is that eating out is a social event and that makes it much harder to realize when we’ve had more than enough. When you’re talking, celebrating, and having fun you’re not paying attention to how much you’ve eaten. Before you know it, the plate is clean, you’re stuffed, and you’ve just eaten a whole day’s worth of calories in one sitting.

You can avoid this scenario by portioning off your meal before you touch it. You can put it directly into a to-go container or onto someone else’s plate. Remember, to keep off the extra pounds, share!

Go Green

Another way to stay on your diet when eating out is by scanning the menu for green-light words. Green-light words refer to those menu items that are the most friendly to your healthy diet. Look for the following words on the menu the next time you want to eat out in a diet-friendly way:

Broiled

Grilled

Poached

Steamed

Tomato Sauce

Mustard

Ketchup

Skip the Red Light Specials

While you’re scanning for green-light menu items, be sure to avoid these red-light, diet-unfriendly foods that are high in fat:

Sautéed

Fried

Cream Of

Alfredo

Mayonnaise

Satisfying Dessert Ideas

Staying on your diet when you’re eating out doesn’t mean you have to skip the sweets. If you like, scan the menu for your favorite dessert and share it. Another alternative is to start with a lower calorie choice.

Just because you don’t see one of these items on the menu doesn’t mean it isn’t available. Most restaurants that serve dessert keep fresh fruit on hand. Ask for a cup or bowl of fresh strawberries with a whipped topping on the side. Sorbet with a side of fresh fruit is another healthy, refreshing favorite that may do the trick as well.

You don’t have to worry about what foods you can have when eating out. No matter what restaurant you choose, let the menu be your guide for eating healthy when eating out.