Healthy Options When Dining Out 2016-11-14T11:06:01+00:00

Healthy Options When Dining Out

By Shain Rossi, Certified Personal Trainer

Whether you’re going out to dinner to celebrate a special occasion or just want to avoid meal prep, dining out can derail your healthy eating plan fast.

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Some restaurant meals obviously aren’t good for you, but even food that looks healthy can be hiding ingredients that aren’t good for you.

When you order a meal in a restaurant, you’re not always sure what the ingredients are and how it was prepared. What may sound like a healthy option might be just the opposite if it was sautéed in butter or oil, or is accompanied by a cream-based sauce.

You also might not be fully aware of how much you’re actually eating when you are out on the town. It’s pretty easy to polish off two baskets of chips, guacamole, and three margaritas while you are busy laughing and chatting with friends.

You don’t have to let dining out ruin your fitness goals. Here are several things you should keep in mind when going to a restaurant.

Steer towards healthy cooking methods

Look for items that are specifically described as baked, broiled or grilled. Avoid deep fried foods and items sautéed in butter or oil. Items that are listed as crispy or rich may also not be your best bet.

Choose a diet-friendly restaurant

When choosing a restaurant, try to select one that is known for offering healthy options. Fortunately, many restaurants have healthy meals and make nutritional information readily available, so you’ll understand what you’re eating when dining out. 

Be aware of portion size

Restaurant-size meals are often much larger than the optimal portions we should eat. When you’re dining out, you don’t have to belong to the “clean plate club.” Consider taking half your meal home and eating it the next day, or sharing an entrée with your dining buddy.

Limit empty calories

It’s common for restaurants to provide bread, chips and salsa, or bread sticks before your meal arrives. Avoid filling up on food before your main course arrives. If you eat a basket full of chips before your meal, you might consume 500 or more calories even before you dig into your entrée. Drinks such as soda and alcoholic beverages can also be loaded with calories.

Ask for substitutes

Don’t be afraid to ask for healthier options when dining out. For example, if a sandwich comes with fries, ask if you can get a side of vegetables instead. Request salad dressing on the side or ask to hold the cream sauce on your fish.


Lastly, enjoy your meal and don’t obsess over every bite. Keep in mind, a little splurge once in a while is OK. If you are craving the chocolate lava cake, go ahead and have a little. Just don’t do it every night. If you constantly deprive yourself, you might not be able to stick with your plan. Remember, healthy eating should not always be about counting calories and dieting. Instead, it should be about making healthy choices you can live with for a lifetime.

Are you interested in more options for healthy eating to support your weight loss and fitness goals? The personal trainers at Elite Triangle Fitness can work with you to develop a personalized nutrition and exercise program to help you get the body of your dreams. Contact us for a free consultation today!

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