Eating Out Guide to Making Healthy Choices

by Megan

No doubt you’ve heard that one way to avoid weight gain is to eat at home and cook the food yourself. While this is certainly good advice, it’s very probable that you’ll end up dining in a restaurant at some point. I know that some evenings, I get home at 7:30 and trying to cook a healthy meal is the last thing on my mind. has a fantastic article to help busy people (like you and me!) make smarter choices when eating out. I wanted to share some of their tips so that you can be prepared to make smart choices. Depending on the type of restaurant you choose, here are recommendations on what foods to avoid and what to enjoy.

Italian food:

  • If you’re craving pizza ask for thin crust, go easy on the cheese and pile on the veggies.
  • Although olive oil is a healthy fat, it still contains a lot of calories. Use sparingly!
  • Avoid dishes made with lots of cream or cheese (i.e., dishes with alfredo sauce).
  • Broth based soups tend to be lower in calories and yet still filling. Add a salad (without creamy dressing) and you have a meal!
  • Choose dishes with the words, “fresco” and “marinara”.  These are typically lower in fat and calories.

Chinese food:

  • Stay away from anything fried, ask for steamed instead.
  • Ask for low sodium soy sauce – this is an easy way to cut salt from your meal.
  • As with Italian food, try some broth based soup before your meal. Egg drop soup is one of my favorites.
  • Ask to replace a side of rice with steamed veggies.

Mexican food:

  • Like olive oil, the avocado in guacamole can be healthy as long as it’s in small portions. Limit how much you add to your meal.
  • Taco salad sounds healthy but don’t be fooled by the name. If it is smothered with meat, cheese, and sour cream, this salad can be just as caloric as a taco platter
  • Fajitas are a safe bet. They tend to be lower in calories and fat.
  • Choose dishes with the words, “asada” or “picante”.
  • If you choose to order a combo plate, split it with someone. Otherwise, box half of it up before you start eating.
  • Try black beans in place of meat in burrito to add fiber and save calories.


  • Ordering fried chicken can set you back 910 calories and 54 grams of fat. To lighten this choice up, order breast meat and remove the skin before eating.
  • Baked potatoes are actually quite healthy. A plain potato typically only has 85 calories – it’s the butter and sour cream that make this an unhealthy choice!
  • Look for words like baked, steamed, broiled, grilled and California-style. These often indicate a healthier choice.
  • One serving of steak is 3-4 ounces (about the size of an open palm). Many steakhouse steaks can be 3 to 4 times this size!

Did you find some tips that will be helpful? If you just want to know how many calories are in your favorite meal, head to the computer. Most restaurants now have their menus and nutritional info online, making it easy to make smarter choices.

What do you choose when you go out to eat? What restaurant is your favorite for healthy meals?

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