Tips For Eating Healthy At Restaurants


The hallmark of any restaurant is decadent, flavorful dishes that make dining out an enjoyable experience. But, unfortunately, beyond our palettes are hidden fat, sodium, and sugar. Thankfully, several restaurants have become more health-conscious, adding light menu options and displaying nutritional information guidelines. But with a touch of observation and communication, many beneficial tips will further assist the health-conscious consumer.

Pay attention to the menu's keywords.

Specific keywords are dead giveaways of a restaurant's unhealthiest menu items. Since dishes with these keywords commonly have high levels of fat and salt, it's best to avoid these infamous culprits:

  • Pan-fried
  • Crispy
  • Dipped
  • Scalloped
  • Breaded
  • Creamy
  • Alfredo

Alternatively, the following keywords of menu dishes tend to be much healthier:

  • Grilled
  • Steamed
  • Baked
  • Roasted
  • Braised
  • Broiled
  • Seared
  • Choose lean meat options.

Lean meat dishes are excellent due to their high amounts of protein, leaving you satiated faster and longer. In addition, you'll satisfy your longer with fewer empty carbs found in pasta and bread. If you're in the mood to eat beef, look for lean cuts such as skirt steak, flank steak, sirloin, tenderloin, or filet mignon. Chicken, especially chicken breast, is another high-protein meat low in fat.

Ask for extra vegetable portions.

You may ask your waiter/waitress if double or triple portions of vegetables are available. While it's likely you won't be charged, you should offer to pay more just in case. In addition, restaurants often offer vegetables as side portions on the menu, and you may browse there to see what's available.

However, to add extra flavor to vegetables, it's common for restaurants to saturate them in butter. Remember to ask if the butter can be left out during the cooking process, as this will eliminate an abundance of fat and calories. You may also inquire if olive oil is available as a substitute.

Be adventurous with ethnic cuisine.

Specific ethnic cuisines, including Mexican, Chinese, and Italian, are generally unhealthier than other cuisines such as Greek, Indian, Thai, and Japanese. Although you won't be hard-pressed not to eat healthier in most restaurants, specific ethnic cuisines cook more grilled meats, fewer kinds of pasta and noodles, and several dishes free from frying. Of course, if you visit a restaurant not offering light dishes, you can always split a meal with someone else or opt for a kids-size portion.

Inquire about food preparation.

In addition to butter, salt is a common flavor enhancer that chefs frequently use in their dishes. If this is a concern, you may ask your server about the preparation of your dish. If it has too much butter or salt to your liking, you may request your meal to be prepared with healthier ingredients or choose a lighter menu option.

Share a dessert with the table.

Desserts are often the best restaurant dining experience, but there are few light options for health-conscious consumers. Thankfully, you can order dessert for the entire table to share without feeling guilty about satisfying your sweet tooth with just a few bites.