Healthy eating out

With the rising concerns over obesity even fast food restaurants are making a shift towards healthier menu options. But still, the most visited fast-food chains serve foods very high in calories, not to mention total fat and sodium. Also, in the race of making the customer happy, many full service restaurants serve huge portions. Does this mean that healthy eating out is not an option? By making wise meal choices while dining out, you can
enjoy both a balanced meal and the joys of eating out. We’ll share with you restaurant secrets that will help you maintain a healthy body weight.

What’s the problem with eating out?

Fast food eating out

How many times each week do you eat out? 54% of American visit fast food restaurants or casual dining restaurants once a week. According to the US Census Biro right now Americans are spending monthly more at Restaurants ($56.014 mil) than in Grocery stores ($52.970 mil). This shift in consumer behavior happened in 2015 for the first time and seems to be a trend that’s here to last.

Fast food restaurants are known to serve large portion sizes that can easily provide all the calories you need in just one single meal. According to McDonald’s nutrition calculator a Double Quarter Pounder® with cheese, a portion of large french fires and a Large Coke have about 1,570 kcal. This meal provides 121% Daily Value (DV) of saturated fats and 71% DV of sodium. That’s enough energy a smaller person needs for the whole day! That’s definitely not healthy eating out.


Sit down restaurants usually have more nutritious options available than fast food chains. They are still guilty for serving large portions often prepared in an unhealthy way. In the restaurant ambient it’s easy to forget that appetizers like fried onions, mozzarella sticks, or buffalo wings are high in fat. They also serve large sides, offer free refill of drinks and add quite some dressing to make the salad more palatable to their guests. All of this makes meals often high caloric and can easily add a few pounds after only one meal.

The Smart way to eat out

There is a way to eat out, enjoy the experience and don’t add extra pounds. You just have to make a little mind shift and look beyond the offered menu. It’s your buck so get used to ask for what you want without feeling ashamed. Even in fast food restaurants healthier options can be found. You just have to look beyond the ready made meals. Make it a habit to ask for changes and assemble your own meal.

Calories in hamburger meal

Even if you choose to eat at McDonald’s you can opt for a regular Hamburger, small fries, a side salad and water. This would make 490 calories (23% Daily Value (DV) of saturated fats and 27% DV of sodium and even 100% DV of vitamin A). McDonald’s definitively isn’t the first option when it comes to healthy eating out but as you can see even here you can make healthier choices. Just don’t choose the ready made meal options because they’re cheaper and bigger. It doesn’t add up at the end.

In restaurants ask for a custom meal if nothing from the regular menu suits you. Finally every restaurant is able to make you some grilled lean meat with some vegetables.

Restaurant secrets that strip away pounds

Here are some tips for healthy eating out that will make it easy for you to enjoy a nutritious meal without a heavy stomach or a guilty conscious after a restaurant visit.

      • Forget the jumbo. Don’t order anything with words like jumbo, super-sized, extra, deluxe, or giant. These portion sizes usually hide lot’s of empty calories, fat and salt. Order regular portion sizes.
      • Order one entree for two or three people. If you won’t skip your entree ask the waiter how big the portion is and share it between two or three people. Often the portions are big enough for two to three people. Also keep in mind that this is not the main meal!
      • Order coffee with as little as possible added ingredients. Drink an espresso or cappuccino and stay away from coffee made with syrups, cream, whipping cream and whole milk. Choose skim milk in your coffee and add flavor with vanilla or coco if you need to. Check out how you can lower the sugar content in coffee.
      • Avoid appetizers that are fried, breaded, or full of cheese or meat. They can easily have enough calories for a whole meal already. Order a vegetable based appetizer or better yet skip it altogether.
      • Order clear soups instead of cream-based soups.
      • Avoid fried or breaded meat and order grilled meat instead.
      • Order lean cuts of meat, such as chicken or turkey breast, extra-lean ground beef, pork loin chop, or filet mignon.
      • Avoid dishes with cream sauces and a lot of cheese.
      • Order a meatless dish filled with vegetables and whole grains.
      • Choose food without toppings, rich sauces, or mayonnaise. Better yet order an unseasoned salad with low-fat dressing served on the side. That way you’ll control by yourself how much dressing is in your salad.
      • Ask for substitutions. Choose steamed vegetables as side dishes instead of potatoes or rice. If you order potatoes, make sure you get oven baked potatoes with little fat.
      • Order beverages with few or no calories, such as water, tea, or unsweetened lemonade.
      • Are the portions large? Eat only one half and take the rest home. You’ll get yummy leftovers for dinner or lunch next day.
      • Order fresh fruit for dessert or share one dessert with a friend.

Healthy eating out foods

Here are some suggestions for meals that are healthy and that you can enjoy while eating out. Still don’t forget the portion sizes!


Minestrone soup, Chicken soup with vegetables, Raw celery and carrots with low-fat or nonfat ranch dressing

Healthy eating out soups


Mixed greens, Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, Spinach salad with crab meat, Raw vegetables and nonfat salad dressing

Salad at restaurants


Whole-grain rolls, Corn tortillas, Whole-wheat or pumpernickel bread, Sprouted bread

Healthy eating out bread


Baked halibut with thyme and fresh squeezed lemon, Grilled skinless chicken breast with tomato salsa

Healthy main dishes in restaurant


Fresh fruit, Fat-free or low-fat yogurt

healthy desseet

Photo credit: Halibut by dalecruse, Tortillas by Stacy Spensley, By LouiseTynan95 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons, Minestrone soup by giffconstable