Making Healthy Choices While Dining Out

Happy Friday!! I'm sure you're just as excited as I am that it's finally the weekend :) Let the relaxation (and paper grading, lesson plan writing, and NASM studying) begin! I think today's post comes just in time for the weekend....

Today I want to talk a little bit about how to make better choices at restaurants. If you're anything like me, you LOVE to eat out. It's really one of my favorite things to do. I like one on one time with whoever I'm dining with, I like to try new foods, and I like not having to worry about washing dishes :)

However, it can be pretty difficult to make good choices when out. Especially on a weekend! After a long week I kind of just want to indulge, but calories add up quick, especially when someone else is making your food. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you're enjoying a restaurant meal but don't want to pay for it later.

1. Go for grilled!
There are lots of ways to cook meat, and I think the best way is fried :) Not best for you, but most delicious, right?! Right. Anyway, any time I am at a restaurant I usually try to find a grilled chicken option. The fat and calorie count is going to be way lower than anything battered and fried, but will still be delicious and lighter, making you feel better mentally about your choice and also physically.

2. Drink water
Skip the soda! And lemonade. And sweetened tea. Soda is absolutely loaded with calories, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and tons of other chemicals that do your body wrong. Eat your calories, don't drink them. If plain water is a little bland, ask for a wedge of lemon or lime in your drink, or even some other fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries.

3. Undress your food
When possible, ask for sauces and dressings on the side. The salad you order might be super healthy, but the dressing could add up to an extra 300 calories, many of those from fat. Get cream cheese, mayo, and dressing on the side and then control what you put on your meal yourself.

4. Order veggies as a side
Most meals at restaurants come with an option of a side. Onion rings, fries, cole slaw, and other foods are usually an option. However, some type of grilled or steamed vegetable is usually on there too! Filling up on veggies will give you staying power and help you get your nutrients for the day while avoiding greasier sides.

5. READ the menu
Pay careful attention to the item descriptions so that you know exactly what you're going to get in your order. Avoid foods that are described with these words: deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin, or in cream sauce.  

My trip to Panda Express last Sunday! I got a couple pieces of honey walnut shrimp, steamed brown rice, and then loaded up on veggies.

 My plate from P.E. is a pretty good example of my dining out habits..the couple pieces of shrimp I had were fried (which I didn't realize until I was served), and then lots of veggies and rice. When eating out I usually allow myself just one or two moments of indulgence (3 french fries from Steven's plate, one small piece of bread from the bread basket, etc). It's hard sometimes to abstain from some of the greasiest, "best" foods but I always feel better when I make healthy choices, inside and out!

What are some rules you follow for yourself when you're eating out? What treats do you allow yourself to indulge in?



  1. It's so hard to restrain!! French fries are my weakness. I try to balance things out though so if I am going to indulge I will at least try to get in my veggies!

  2. my "secret" when going out to eat at a restaurant i know only serves bad food (ie. deep fried everything) or one i'm not familiar with, is i will eat before i head out. this way, i can still enjoy the company and eat light (i only order a light appy ie. salad with some kind of protein) and keep my calories within reason.

    and i only have 1 dessert a year (on my birthday) so while everyone is chowing down on dessert, that's sort of a bummer LOL

    Vodka and Soda

    1. That's such a good idea Kathy! Very smart. Haha too bad about the dessert but way to go on the willpower!