To help you make healthier food choices when dining out, we’ve gathered invaluable tips from founders and other professionals. From opting for plant-based proteins to prioritizing vegetables in your meal, these insights will guide you toward a healthier dining experience.
Opt for Plant-Based Proteins
When you read the menu, first look at vegetarian- or vegan-friendly options. If there are options for protein, opt for plant-based options like tofu or beans. At certain restaurants, plant-based proteins may even be cheaper than animal-based proteins.
- Michaela Ramirez, MD, Founder, O My Gulay
Choose Whole, Unprocessed Foods
One tip for making healthy food choices when dining out is to prioritize whole, unprocessed foods. Look for menu options that include lean proteins, such as grilled chicken or fish, and plenty of vegetables. Opt for steamed, roasted, or sautéed vegetables instead of those that are deep-fried or covered in heavy sauces. By focusing on nutrient-dense and minimally processed options, you can enjoy a delicious meal while making choices that align with your nutrition goals and support your overall well-being. - Diane Howard, RN and Founder, Esthetic Finesse
Understand Nutritional Values
Dining out can still align with a healthy lifestyle, particularly in 2023, with numerous restaurants focusing on providing healthy, alternative meal options. For some, dining out might offer a better meal than preparing an unhealthy one at home that lacks the necessary nutrients and fuel. However, dining out can also lead to poor eating choices if not approached with caution. There are certain measures one can take to ensure healthy decisions are made while dining out. Most restaurants provide full details on each meal, including the nutritional value of each option. This information can be requested from the restaurant and used to guide meal choices. Even fast-food or chain restaurants provide this information, aiding in making the best decisions based on what’s available. Acquiring this information, understanding it, and basing decisions on it is a practical approach to dining out healthily. - Dr. Peter White, Director, Phallosan Forte
Focus on Grilled, Baked, or Steamed
One tip for making healthy food choices when dining out is to prioritize vegetables and lean proteins. Look for menu options that incorporate a variety of vegetables as the main components of the dish. Opt for grilled, baked, or steamed lean proteins such as chicken, fish, or tofu instead of fried or breaded options. Another helpful tip is to ask for dressings, sauces, and toppings on the side, allowing you to control the amount you consume. - Aviad Faruz, CEO, Know Mastery
Watch Your Portion Sizes
When eating out, one way to keep your healthy-eating goals in mind is to watch your portions. These days, it’s common to find ourselves stuffed to the gills after dining at a restaurant. If you’re watching your weight, splitting a dinner with a friend or ordering a smaller serving size will help. A second option is to request a takeout container in advance so that you can preserve part of the meal for later. You may eat out without ruining your healthy-eating habits by paying attention to your portions.
- Dayna Carlin, Director of Marketing and Sales, NovoPath
Discuss Dietary Preferences with Staff
Engaging in conversation with the waiter or chef allows you to make informed decisions and tailor your meal to meet your health goals. Discuss your dietary preferences and restrictions, and they can offer customized recommendations or suggest modifications to the menu items. For example, if you are trying to reduce sodium intake, you can request less salt or seasoning. By communicating directly, you have the opportunity to clarify ingredients, cooking methods, and portion sizes. This tip ensures that you have greater control over the nutritional content of your meal and can make healthier choices even when dining out.
- Ben Lau, Founder, Featured SEO Company
Select Health-Conscious Restaurants
One tip for making healthy food choices when dining out is to research and choose restaurants that offer healthier options or focus on nutritious cuisine. By actively seeking out establishments that prioritize healthy food choices, you can increase your chances of making healthier dining choices overall. Look for restaurants that have a variety of vegetable-based dishes, whole grain options, and healthier cooking methods like grilling or steaming. Some establishments provide nutritional information on their menus, allowing you to make informed choices. For example, you can choose a restaurant that offers a wide selection of salads, grilled vegetables, and lean protein sources. By selecting restaurants with an emphasis on nutritious options, you can ensure that you have viable choices for making healthier food decisions when dining out.
- Yoana Wong, Co-Founder, Secret Florists
Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Food
Viewing food in the right way is crucial for building a healthy relationship with it. When food is seen purely as a reward or punishment, it is used either as a source of comfort in times of distress or as a way to ‘undo’ any indulgence. This mentality leads to a vicious cycle of punishment and reward. For instance, many people use foods such as ice cream, cakes, pizzas, and the like to comfort themselves during tough times. This is a scenario where overeating these foods is more likely. When overeating occurs and results in feeling sick, a wave of guilt follows and the decision is made to punish oneself by eating “healthy.” This is an unhealthy mentality that leads to an imbalanced diet. The way to change this mentality is to start viewing food as a source of fuel, nourishment, and enjoyment. Food is the only source of energy that we provide to our bodies.
- Sagar Taneja, SEO Analyst, Now&Me
Make Wise Beverage Choices
Beverages can be a source of concealed calories and sugar. When dining out, avoid sugary beverages, iced teas with added sugar, and calorie-dense cocktails. Choose water, effervescent water, or unsweetened iced tea instead. These options not only hydrate you, but they also limit your caloric intake. If you prefer alcoholic beverages, opt for light beer, wine, or spirits blended with low-calorie mixers like soda water or fresh lime juice. Alcohol consumption should be limited to one drink or fewer per day for women and two drinks or fewer per day for men. By making wise beverage choices, you can minimize your overall calorie consumption and avoid the negative health effects linked with excessive sugar and alcohol consumption. Remember, you can still dine out while putting your health and wellness first. - Tiffany Hafler, Marketing Coordinator, Blockchain Lawyer
Prioritize Vegetables in Your Meal
When eating out, prioritizing vegetables can make a huge difference, no matter what you order for your main dish. Start your meal with a side salad. Add vegetables as sides. Get as many green and colorful veggies as you can. That way, you’re partially filling up your stomach with satisfying nutrients and getting some fiber, even if you’re splurging on some other indulgences while eating out. - Ashley Walton, Cofounder, GymBird