Eating Healthy at a Restaurant

37 Tricks to Eating Healthy at a Restaurant

The way to your wallet lies in appealing to your stomach, for restaurants. They thrive on offering delicious foods and beverages that are high in calorific value and low on nutrition. The way in which the calories pile up and fat aggregates is a real problem. A 2013 Toronto University study found that restaurant meals clock at a whopping 1128 calories for just one meal. This does not include the beverages. How do you ensure that you eat healthy at a restaurant with so many issues coming into play? The innocent looking appetizers add to the calorie count if there are over-sized entrees to be had. Keeping your waistline under control is important. Eating out without incorporating calorie bombs into the dietary plan can be a real challenge. Eating out without letting your waistline or your calorie count explode is tough. The important points to keep in mind while eating in a healthy way at a restaurant are as follows.

How To Eat Healthy At a Restaurant

#1 Select The Correct Restaurant

Selecting one restaurant over another can make a lot of difference. The advice needs to be heeded before one settles down for choosing the right restaurant for a meal. One way of judging the best eatery for your health and nutrition is the menu. Most restaurants post their menu or list of dishes and drinks online. Before you settle for a restaurant, check out their menu. Ascertain if they have healthy options and plan the meal accordingly to avoid temptations. If there is a lot of fat-rich food and calorie dense dishes on the menu, you need to exercise caution. However, don’t be tempted to think salad equates low fat. Some of these restaurant salads can be loaded with a whole lot more sugar than you can imagine.

#2 Seek Low-Calorie Menus

Restaurants must be aware that they need to keep up with the changing times. This is why so many restaurants offer healthy, nutritious food and low-calorie options. Creamy, fattening appetizers are out and special lighter meals are in for health-conscious, fitness-oriented customers. Opt for a higher end restaurant and you will get the best deal and the appropriate portions.

#3 Steer Clear of the Kitchen

One thing when it comes to calorie-laden meals is that seeing them in their dishes can be tempting. Sitting at a table within full view of the kitchen can be a recipe for disaster. This is one temptation you need to steer clear of, especially if you are already hungry.

#4 Avoid Fast Paced Restaurants

Whether it’s the music or the pace at which the food is served, eateries with booming music can create an atmosphere which makes one want to eat fast. The same is true regarding the pace of the service. If you eat rapidly, expect to gulp down immense and large proportions of food resulting in bloating. Choose establishments that offer a relaxed pace of dining. Research conducted by Cornell University scientists has found those who dined with less heavy music stayed at the table longer, though they consumed less food.

#5 Seek Light Airy Restaurants With Subtle Themes

Another critical aspect that influences the food you order is the atmosphere and feel of the place. The more stimulating and dramatic the restaurant is, the less likely you are to be satisfied with a moderate order.

#6 Check Out Yourself

Seek Light Airy Restaurants With Subtle Themes
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Eating at restaurants lined with mirrored walls or watching yourself eat can make a difference to the number of high-calorie foods you put into your body. Researchers from the Central Florida University found that when people ate in mirrored as opposed to mirrorless rooms, those eating chocolate cake lost their appetite for it! Looking in the mirror ensures that people can judge themselves as they are watching every morsel they put into the mouth. Watching what you eat could be the simple step needed to make a difference when it comes to eating healthy at a restaurant.

#7 Order Healthy Salads First

Another way to make sure you eat healthy at the restaurant is to load up on filling fiber right at the start of the meal. Opt for a satiating salad brimming with veggies and nature’s goodness to fill your stomach so that you are less inclined to double up on the dishes that follow. Keep it easy and simple by giving up creamy and fat-rich dressings for the spartan yet tasty vinegar and oil dressing. Skip cheese and croûtons. If you are not looking for a salad, you can still make for a meal that scores on veggies. Follow the half-plate law filling 50 percent of your plate with veggies.

#8 Watch Out for Loaded Menu Items

Restaurants need to come out and say that the entrees are calorifically astronomical, but few eateries let you know how fattening their food can be. Instead, these restaurants cloak the words to hide their real meaning. So, watch out for smothered, buttery, stuffed, breaded or creamy because these are the red flags signaling that fat and calorie loading is about to take place. Fancy terms can often be used to dazzle the diner and trick him or her into eating heavy calories too. Terms like sautéed or scalloped, au gratin or creamy or the use of cheese types like Parmesan are the sign you need to ditch the dish while ordering the meal.

#9 Chicken Soup For the Soul?

Chicken soup or beef works just fine when it comes to opting for slimming foods at a restaurant. These broth type soups are the perfect way to satiate the stomach before the main meal. Soup containing veggies and lean meat offers a satiation and a health quotient that is hard to ignore. If you stick to salad and soups for the main course and a filling that is low on calories, broth type soups are the way to go.

#10 When Gluten-Free is Not Necessarily Good

Gluten-free/zero gluten has a positive connotation and many assume that just because a restaurant is offering gluten-free food, it is healthy. The truth of the matter is that gluten-free means there is zero gluten, not that it is low fat or low-calorie food. Gluten-less options are higher in calories, as the recipes require more ingredients to compensate for zero gluten.

#11 Zero in on Appetizers Rather than Binge On the Main Course

Often, restaurants offer protein or veggie-rich appetizers to serve as a healthier option before the main course itself. If you double down on these instead of fattening main course dishes, you can avoid a calorie explosion. Fried cheesy tartare for example, can do more than ruin your weight loss plans.

#12 Ask For The Server’s Help

When you are ordering from the menu, you need to ask the server about the dishes while considering the menu. Seek explanations for exotic or unknown terms, lest you end up ordering a calorie-rich dish without knowing what it is exactly. The server can also guide you towards healthy fine dining.

#13 Ask For More Veggies

Another critical aspect of eating healthy at a restaurant is to order more vegetables. Opt for salads, healthy veggies as side dishes and you will have saved your diet plans from going up in smoke.

#14 Be Wary of Cold Cuts

Be Wary of Cold Cuts
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All meat cuts are not the same. There’s a world of a difference of opting for fat-free chicken or top sirloin and tip sided steak rather than a prime rib oozing with calories. Be careful about the type of cold cut you order because it can make a real difference to the final outcome when it comes to eating right.

#15 Consider Butter and Sauces on the Side

Always check how fat or calories may sneak in and avoid this. For example, rather than opting for butter or sauce doused dishes, opt for butter and additional sauces separately on the side. That way, you know exactly what the dressing of the salad or the sauce of a gravy contains.

#16 Don’t Consume Liquid Calories

Soda as well as alcoholic beverages not only dehydrate the skin but include excess sugar and calories in your diet as well. A cocktail can be a sinful indulgence when it comes to watching what you eat and your weight loss too. From sugar filled margaritas to pina coladas, extra calories can be a real issue. So, opt for red wine or vodka with some soda and lime to get the best results.

#17 Find Out How Food Was Cooked

Before you order a dish, consider whether it is fried or smothered in creams or cheeses. If the dish is baked, grilled or broiled, it can be cooked in the healthiest manner. Even healthy options like seafood can only work if they are not fried, or sautéed in heavy oil or fattening ingredients.

#18 Got a Sweet Tooth? Try Fruit!

If you are one of those diners who cannot do without their dessert, opt for some fruit to add more to the dishes without putting in the calories. Opt for mixed fruit salad or super-foods like blueberries and strawberries brimming with potent antioxidants plus vitamins without losing out on sugar.

#19 Enjoy a Spicy Treat

When it comes to a healthy dish, try one with plenty of herbs and spices. Spices like paprika, chili powder or garlic salt and lemon offer that extra taste and prevent resorting to fat heavy dishes for taste. Additionally, the spices fire up the metabolic rate as well. Pump up the taste and add zing to your good.

#20 Request a Parcel

A study found that a lot of eateries serve restaurant food in portions that are 3 or even 4 times that of the recommended size. You can prevent overeating by putting in 75% of the entree in a box to go and choose to snack on the leftovers much later, rather than opting for heavy portions that can leave you burdened by calorie bombs.

#21 Eat Low-Calorie Items First

The most important thing to consider before opting for the main meal is to indulge your stomach with healthy as opposed to fattening food. Just parcel the meal’s extra dishes in a to-go container and eat lower calorie items instead.

#22 Avoid Non-Skinned Meat

Restaurants may cook chicken, turkey, duck and more during cooking, but leave the skin on. This can prove disastrous for those looking for a healthy diet. The skin comes with calories that include saturated fats that can really create a problem when it comes to a health-friendly diet.

#23 Avoid Carb Overload

Whether its chips, chops or bread, you can end up consuming hundreds of calories through the cereals alone. Don’t guzzle the tortilla chips or the indulge yourself with the bread-basket items if you want to save your health and protect your waistline. Instead, opt for veggies.

#24 Eat Slowly

Perhaps the biggest deterrent to eating healthy in a restaurant is not putting down your cutlery and giving your food a thoughtful chew. Opt for dinner talk and put your spoon and fork down when you are eating occasionally, to eat at a leisurely pace before opting for another bite. Dressing for dinner at a restaurant can change how you think about a meal too. Get into the mode of eating slowly and restfully, and half the battle is won.

#25 Hydrate Yourself

Another trick to remaining healthy while eating out is to sip water. Often, we mistake thirst for hunger. Alternating bites with massive gulps of water slows down the food ingestion and you can judge the hunger levels to prevent overeating.

#26 Eat a Heavy Home Meal Before Dining Out!

If you are going out for dinner, opt for a heavy lunch comprising nutritious, home-cooked food, as this can ensure your hunger pangs don’t increase the moment you hit the table. It also allows you to make better decisions when it comes to ordering food. Not starving yourself is important, if you want to boost your metabolism and eating right can play a role in maintaining the balance and preventing your body from going into crises modes and storing fat.

#27 Go Take a Walk

Post your meal, a good walk can help you to digest the food. This also keeps you from feeling sluggish. Opt for a light workout or a simple walk and you will see the benefits for yourself.

#28 Eat Mint

Mint offers more than just a breath freshening method for you. It aids in weight loss and you can also be prevented from indulging in tasty desserts post the food if you pop a mint.

#29 Give Yourself a Boost

Though it may seem incongruous, giving yourself a pep talk to eat less can also work. You need to be in a right mindset and a healthy one at that. Giving yourself the motivation to eat right can be a crucial means of ensuring healthiness.

#30 Skip Dessert

Many folks tend to savor their dessert. But the question you need to ask yourself when you reach the dessert cart is whether you really need that delectable chocolate mousse after such a heavy meal? If you cannot resist the lure of the sweet tooth, opt for frozen yogurt or a low-calorie treat that can satiate your sweet tooth.

#31 Modify Your Menu

Another option while fine dining is to order a dish as per your needs and preferences. Instead of fried, ask for grilled dishes. Ask for veggies instead of fries on the side. Opt for smaller meat portions and larger salad portions. Choose baked veggies, not fried. Opt for a side plate of veggies too. Get full, not fat. Most chains list what goes into the dish and the nutritional content of the food. Many restaurants offer additional half portions and healthy options for weight watchers.

#32 Have a Plan in Place

Eating a light dinner is important. So is having a plan in place. Knowing the terms of the menu and the basics of the cooking methods can be the perfect way to safeguard your meal from calorie bombs at the restaurant. Thinking ahead is important.

#33 Order With Care

Caution also needs to be exercised while ordering the dishes. Balancing the meal by opting for healthier foods like lean dairy, low-fat protein, veggies, and whole grains is important. Opt for freshly made appetizer salads that help you to balance the meal. Entree salads, for example, come with grilled or baked chicken, beans or seafood and other fibers and nutrients as well. Opt for a dressing on the side for the best control over portion size. If you are looking for sandwich or pizza toppings, opt for veggie options like lettuce, onions, tomato, and avocado. When opting for condiments, choose mustard or salsa instead of sugar-rich options.

Opt for healthier side dishes, such as fruit, baked items or salads. Increase the nutritional value of the baked potato by opting for salsa, chili or veggies. Ask for healthy substitutes.

#34 Control Portions

Another thing to watch out for is portion control. A lot of restaurants serve massive portions for a single customer. Control lies in your hands if you eat a smaller position and opt for leftovers for yet another meal. Research published by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found as much as 92% of the meals from local restaurants and massive chains offer more food than an average human needs. Making healthy choices starts with what you eat. Cuisines that focus on whole grains, vegetables, lean protein and fats like Greek, India, Eastern and Mediterranean work best. Restaurants that offer seasonal veggies and freshly sourced foods should also score on your itinerary.

#35 Consider Leftovers

Consider Leftovers
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If there is a restaurant in your radar known for its generous servings, how you order is just as important as what is ordered. According to researchers, portions have gone up by as much as 138 percent since the 70s. Now, your favorite meal is calorie rich and bigger in size. You need to watch out for meaty steaks, creamy pasta or thick risottos.

#36 Don’t Watch TV/ Talk on the Phone While Eating

When you are stuck with the blaring restaurant television or a mobile phone call, you tend to eat more. Distracted eating can be a real problem. A Journal of American Clinical Nutrition found those not tuned into what they are eating, tend to eat more. Being mindful of what you eat is important if you want to eat right.

#37 Have Smaller Parties

Many studies including those published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who dine with a larger party tend to eat more. So consider small dining parties, if you want to cut down on your order size and the food that you end up consuming.


You need to study all aspects of the menu and the food you order at a restaurant. When browsing, plan ahead and see the fit between your nutritional needs and what the restaurant has to offer. Don’t give in to temptation and opt for a healthier option, to prevent your friends from influencing you. Instead, be a healthy and positive influence on other diners by eating right at a restaurant and not indulging in binge eating.

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