Tips for Making Healthier Restaurant Choices…from Real Nutritionists

Many of us opt to avoid lunches and dinners out at restaurants when we’re trying to shed a few pounds. Why? Because it’s difficult to control what goes into your food when you’re not the chef preparing it.

However, enjoying a social meal out doesn’t have to mean ditching your healthy eating goals. Instead, you can take charge of the menu (and what’s on your plate) by taking these food ordering tips from real nutritionists to heart, and mouth…

Have a Healthy Snack Prior to Your Dinner Date

Snacking before dinner might seem counterintuitive. I mean, you’ll likely ruin your ravenous appetite if you snack on say, apple slices with almond butter before your date. But that’s the point, according to certified health coach, eating psychology coach, and nutritionist, Jenny Eden Berk.

According to Berk, eating a fiber-filled, healthy snack prior to dining out will ensure you’re not so starving you’ll gobble up everything in sight upon arrival, which is typically the bread basket and an array deep fried appetizers.

Peruse the Menu in its Entirety

If you’re not familiar with, the customizable, healthy snack box company, maybe you should be, particularly if you’re a snack addict like me. So as you can imagine, when it comes to selecting smart choices from a yummy array of options, Graze’s resident nutritionist, Jess Scott, is a pro.

Scott recommends approaching restaurant menus as a whole instead of making a snap decision. By reviewing its entirety, you can then make a smart, balanced meal choice by focusing on dishes rich in lean protein and fresh veggies.

Put Sauces to the Side

You could say that Project Juice, the U.S. organic cold-pressed juice and vegan food company, knows that not all liquids are created equal. So when it comes to creamy, buttery sauces and dressings, the folks at Project Juice share this nibble of healthy eating wisdom…

Request that dressings and sauces be served on the side! This is so you can control the portion you use on your meal, not the restaurant who would rather you slather it all over and consume every buttery, creamy, empty fat and sugar-filled drop.

Beware Certain Cooking Techniques

With a website slogan like, “every veggie has a dark side,” New Hampshire-based Registered Dietitian, Emily Cooper, knows that cooking methods can make or break a meal.

If you’re trying to dine out healthier, steer clear of menu dishes that are “crusted”, “battered”, “breaded”, or “creamed”, which essentially means their deep fried or filled with fat and empty calories. Instead, opt for healthier items that are “steamed”, “baked”, “broiled”, or “grilled.”

Share or Split Meals

It makes perfect sense that if you share a meal, you split the calories, right? Exactly, according to Anna Maria Bittoni, RD and clinical dietitian at Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital.

Most restaurants serve HUGE portions so splitting them up between a couple or group will portion your…portion. If you’re dining alone, you can also request a take out container right away to split your meal in half and take it home.

Moderation is Key

Most meals start out with a glass of wine and a basket of bread. Enter a huge, starchy entree. And end with a sinful dessert, but that’s not the way it has to be, according to State Certified Dietitian, Nutritionist, and Registered Dietitian, Melissa Buczek Kelly.

Buczek Kelly employs the acronym B.A.D. (which stands for bread, alcohol, dessert) when dining out with friends. She recommends choosing one option between a glass of wine, a slice of bread, or dessert, and savouring just one…not all three, to keep your meal moderate. You can also request that starchy/fatty menu options (i.e., pasta, rice, fries) be replaced with a veggie-based soup or a fresh salad.


Catherine Roberts

Catherine is our go-to writer for women’s health news, diet trends and more. She’s dedicated to providing Activebeat readers with the information they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day.