Eating Out Healthfully

Fast Food Meal

Eating Out Healthfully. Dine Out. Live Healthy.

A commitment to healthy eating does not mean the end of dining-out fun. Eating out healthfully and enjoying a healthy lifestyle can go hand in hand.

At a restaurant, you have a right to know how the food is prepared. Just ask! If the wait staff is unable to answer your question(s), ask the chef – or ask the waiter to ask the chef. You can ask these questions when you are in the restaurant or you can call in advance.

Fast Food TipsFast Food Meal

Many fast-food restaurant chains now have nutrition information available. Ask for a free brochure, then compare the nutrition information in the foods that they offer. You can also look the restaurant up online. Most larger chains have all their menu choices along with nutrition information on their sites. Truth is, it is easier than ever to practice eating out healthfully.

Your Focus: Smart Choices

Focus on the item of your concern – calories, sodium, fat or cholesterol – and make your food choices based on that information.

  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches and hamburgers without the high-fat toppings, sauces or marinades or added cheese. Ketchup and mustard or lettuce and tomato are better choices.
  • Have a side salad instead of fries, or try a broiled chicken salad with low-fat dressing.
  • Remove the skin from fast-food fried chicken or try the rotisserie-style chicken.
  • Choose corn on the cob, mashed potatoes or baked beans on the side.

Restaurant Tips

  • Plan ahead. Know the restaurants in your area and patronize those that cater to special requests. Eating out healthfully can become a good habit.
  • Ask how foods are prepared – never assume. Ask if the cook can use less of high-fat ingredients such as cheese, cream or butter or oil.
  • Ask to have sauces and dressings served on the side. Many restaurants offer low-fat or fat-free dressings.
  • Choose vegetable or tomato based soups and sauces. Creamed varieties can add up to 15 to 20 grams of fat to a meal.
  • Split an entree with a friend and order extra salad and bread.
  • Fruit, sorbet or sherbet makes a light ending to a healthy meal. When you cannot resist, split a rich dessert. Some restaurants will even serve you a half-serving.
  • Ask to be served a smaller-sized portion or have half of your meal placed in a doggy bag before you start to eat. A smaller amount eaten always means fewer calories and less fat, sodium and cholesterol, no matter what food is ordered. Remember that some restaurant-sized portions of pasta may equal up to two pounds of pasta. You do not have to eat it all at one sitting!
  • Order a salad and appetizer, or a salad and soup for your entire meal. There is no rule saying you must have an entire entree.
  • If you choose to drink an alcoholic beverage, reduce the calories from wine by having a wine spritzer. Drink plenty of water before and during your meal; then you may not drink as much alcohol. Remember that alcohol has only empty calories. There is absolutely no nutritional value.

Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing