3 Tips for Healthy Eating at Restaurants

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By Kirsten Nunez. When was the last time you ate at a restaurant? There’s a good chance that it wasn’t too long ago. According to the U.S. Healthful Food Council, the average American adult dines out 5.8 times a week. This statistic is no surprise, considering the accessible and convenient nature of restaurants. And whether you’re on a brunch date or at a girls’ night out, they provide the perfect atmosphere for social outings.

But when you’re trying to eat healthy, dining out can be a challenge. The establishment has already decided what you’ll be consuming while you’re under their roof. The thought can be daunting for the health conscious lady -  but fortunately, there are ways to work around it. Here are three tips for eating healthy at restaurants.

  1. Ask for half portions. The half-portion option has become quite popular, letting you satisfy a craving without the massive plate of food. Keep an eye out for menu items that have half-portion choices, which might help narrow down your selection. If you’re eyeing a meal that isn't offered in half portions, it doesn't hurt to ask your server if the chef is willing to split it. You never know how they can accommodate you. Other possibilities would be to share a full meal with a friend, or even order something off the children’s menu. All of these choices will cut down your meal to a healthier serving and save you a couple dollars.
  2. Request alternatives. Often, the nutritional integrity of a meal can be instantly transformed with a simple change. Examples include replacing cream dressing with a vinaigrette, swapping fries and chips for side salads, and substituting white rice with brown. Does your sandwich come with a sauce or dressing? Ask for it on the side, so you can control the amount that is added to your sandwich. Given the wide variety of allergies out there, restaurants are quite accustomed to dealing with substitutions. Again, don’t hesitate to ask; your server might even have a few recommendations.
  3. Order two small appetizers. If you’re looking for a filling meal, try ordering two items from the appetizer and/or side menus. Together, most appetizers and sides will fill you up just as much as a full entrée. You’ll be able to mix it up while curating your own personalized meal. Even when you want to spoil yourself, try ordering one healthy appetizer and one not-so-healthy appetizer. The latter will satisfy your craving, while limiting the portion.

Remember, it's not the end of the world when you occasionally indulge and eat out. Most of healthy eating comes down to portion control and how often you eat a certain food. It’s totally possible to tweak restaurant meals to better fit the healthy lifestyle that you’re striving for. With these tips, you won’t have to flee from a restaurant the next time someone invites you out. Instead, follow these tips to treat yourself well and enjoy the company!