Many families dine in restaurants several times each week. Especially when both parents work, finding time to cook at home can be challenging. And, if you travel with work, then you are almost forced to eat out a lot.

Dinning out can be a social experience too. It brings the entire family together, even if everyone is going in different directions during the day. Often, other extended family members are included too.

But, dining out doesn’t have to mean eating unhealthy. It’s important to teach your children how to read a menu and select foods that are good for them. You will be doing them (and yourself) a huge favor if you help them order “smart.”

Here are 7 tips that will help you stay healthy while eating in your favorite restaurants:

#1 Choose Vegetables. Order a salad or steamed vegetables with dinner. Most restaurants will substitute steamed veggies for the normal baked potato or rice. Even if they don’t allow substitutions, see if you can order veggies on the side. If you order a salad, get the dressing on the side. Then, instead of pouring it on, just dip each bite in the dressing enough to taste it but not drench it.

#2 Avoid Fried Foods. Fried foods are packed with fat and calories. Avoid any entre that is fried and skip the French fries. Ask for a baked or broiled potato instead.

#3 Split entrees. The “normal” portions served at restaurants are usually much larger than a healthy size. Try splitting one entrée with your dinner companion, or if you’re dining alone, package up half and take it home for tomorrow’s lunch.

#4 Skip the bread. Many restaurants serve a basket of bread or chips before the meal. These are loaded with calories and just fill you up before your meal arrives. Tell the waiter thanks, but you don’t care for bread, and have him take it away. This will help you avoid temptation.

#5 No refills. It’s best not to order a sugary soft drink or juice with your meal in the first place. But, if you must, then limit yourself to one glass. When the waiter offers a refill, just say “no thanks.”

#6 Order a la Carte. There’s no reason to order a full meal if you don’t want it. Meals often come with lots of things that we wouldn’t normally eat like soup, potatoes, appetizers or dessert. Just order what you want from the a la carte section of the menu. You can even order an appetizer for your main course, if you want.

#7 Go light on condiments. Avoid scooping and dunking. Condiments like catsup can contain a lot of sugar and calories. Mayonnaise or sour cream-based sauces can be packed with fat. Try to use just enough to provide the taste you want.

We hope these 7 tips help make your dining experience both fun and healthy.

Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?

Do You Wish Your Kid’s Ate Better? Check out our FREE eBook at Many of the strategies in this book can be used by both children and adults.
You may also want to read: Family Meals: Do We Really Want Screens at the Table?, Picky Eaters: What We Can Lean From the French, Childhood Obesity: Portion Size Matters

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13 Responses to Eat Right: 7 Tips for Eating Healthy While Eating Out

  1. j. says:

    OMG! It’s such a challenge for me to eat right when I go out. Thanks for the perfectly easy, yet important tips.
    j. recently posted..Creative SparksMy Profile

  2. Tricia says:

    Great post! These tips are essentials for good health and healthy weight loss! I used to love to drench my salads with blue cheese dressing and my baked potato with butter and sour cream. (And steak was a must!) Of course, I had 50 extra pounds on my body as a result! Thankfully, almost every restaurant has tasty salad options these days. But no one makes a salad like I do, so I prefer to eat at home, know what I’m actually eating, and save money in the process! :)
    Tricia recently posted..Detoxifying your Fruits and VeggiesMy Profile

  3. Erin Ferree says:

    Great article! I sometimes ask for nontraditional condiments – like lemon wedges or plain balsamic vinegar – if the food needs sprucing then that can be a low-impact way to do it.
    Erin Ferree recently posted..The Chillifesto Is Here.My Profile

    • Vitaerobics says:

      These are great ideas! We often ask for lemon or lime wedges to put in ice water or drizzle on vegetables. It’s a great way to add lots of flavor without all the sugar. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Great article – I rarely eat fried – but every summer I have to have at least one order of Fried Clams at the beach :-) it’s a tradition! It’s so rare that I eat fried now that just once a summer is usually enough to satisfy my nostalgic side (when I was little we used to have fried clams almost every weekend during the summer).
    I also love to order split meals or appetizers and share them.
    Amethyst Wyldfyre recently posted..Are You Stuck Like the Lady Bug?My Profile

    • Vitaerobics says:

      Fried clams are a “guilty pleasure” for me too! I used to live in Morro Bay (California’s central coast) and they are known for great seafood. There’s nothing better than fried clams on the boardwalk on a summer day! Having these memories are important, and it would be a shame to eliminate all of these foods from your diet. As long as they are “treats,” they’re ok. It’s what you eat 90 percent of the time that matters, not the other 10 percent!

  5. Sue Paananen says:

    Wow, this is encouraging. I mentally did the “check” think with each of your points. I guess this is why I’ve never struggled with my weight. I’ve done all of these things for as long as I can remember. To all the readers out there – this really works! Earlier today before reading this post I was at a restaurant, ordered a salad with only a vinegrate dressing, declined any bread when the waitress asked me what kind of bread, and ordered water with a lemon wedge (as usual) to drink. I don’t even think about it. In fact, last night, I was looking through my mail, including some large colorful local advertisements, and noticed the food that was being advertised from the fast food places – none of it appealed to me and none of the coupons were worth the money saved. It all went in the trash. Can’t say I don’t have any weak spots, though. I went to a super healthy bakery the other day, and although I bought oat, bran, and flax heavy bread, I also slipped a package of shortbread bars onto the counter. But it seems to never matter to have an indulge now and then when 90% of the week is very careful to mind what is presented here.
    Sue Paananen recently posted..How to Blog – Getting Backlinks to Your BlogMy Profile

  6. Meghan says:

    Great reminders on some of the basics of healthy eating when eating out. For many business owners that travel, the excuse of “eating out” means “eat whatever I want because this is a special occasion and I’m not at home.” But when you eat out several times a week — that mentality is dangerous!
    Meghan recently posted..Website Marketing Consultant: Tips on Writing a Blog Post – FASTMy Profile

    • Vitaerobics says:

      Having traveled on business for much of my career, I can sympathize with your comment. One other aspect that works against you when you’re eating out on business is that it is often “on expense account.” That means you can really order/eat anything you want, because you’re not paying for it!

  7. Great tips Michael and I would add one more…eat fresh non GMO food – and find restaurants who serve this way!
    Rebecca Skeele recently posted..Completing, Making Peace and WelcomingMy Profile

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