Authored by JoannaRasmuson

Making Healthy Choices: Tips for Eating at Restaurants

May 15, 2019 | Family Medicine

When life gets busy, it’s tempting to turn to fast food or restaurants for meals. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the healthiest choice. Fast food, for example, is usually high in sugar, salt, fat and calories. If done right, you can enjoy the convenience of eating out without the unhealthy side effects. To help you maintain your diet and still get through the things you need to do every day, we’ve put together a list of things to help you when you eat out.

Search the Menu for Healthier Options

It’s a good idea to search the restaurant’s menu online before you show up to determine what you will order and the nutrition information about it. Look for symbols, keywords or designations on menus that designate items as healthy, resist freebies and upsells, add colorful vegetables and fruits and put your dressings and toppings on the side. If you’re eating out, be conscious of what you order. Some things to avoid include:

  • Refried beans
  • French fries
  • Queso or sour cream
  • Sausage and bacon
  • Salty sauces
  • Cookies or ice cream
  • Supersize, buffets or all-you-can-eat meals
  • Cheese- or cream-based soups

Instead, look for the following foods on the menu and choose them instead:

  • Pico de gallo or guacamole
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Skinless fish, chicken or lean meat
  • Side salad or baked potatoes
  • Fruit-based desserts or fresh fruit
  • Poached, baked, steamed, roasted, sautéed or grilled foods
  • Whole grain pasta, rice or bread
  • Salad bar, light menus and a la carte items
  • Light sauces with wine, vinegar, spices and herbs

You can also ask your waiter to substitute unhealthy ingredients for healthier ones. For example, if your steak comes with a side of fries, ask for steamed veggies instead.


Avoid Empty Calories

Empty calories come in the form of drinks such as soda, sugary cocktails or sweet tea. Not only are these drinks high in sugar content but also in calories. Instead, opt for 100 percent juices, spritzers, seltzer, diet soda or water.


Eat Smaller Portions

When you’re at a fast food restaurant, avoid the temptation to supersize. Choose the smaller combination size when ordering a meal. It may seem like a great deal to order more food for just a few dollars, but you’re also adding calories, fat and salt to your meal. If you order more food, you are more likely to eat more food, even if you aren’t hungry or don’t need it.

Along those lines, don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate if you aren’t hungry. Just because you ordered more doesn’t mean you have to finish it. Eat until you are satisfied, but not completely stuffed or full. Split a meal with a family member or friend or take a portion of it home for lunch the next day.
The reality is that you probably can’t give up going out to eat altogether, so it’s important to make healthy choices when you do.

Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages and providing thorough and timely healthcare for the entire family throughout all stages of life.



“Making Healthy Choices at Fast Food Restaurants.”, by the American Academy of Family Physicians.


“Dining Out Doesn’t Mean Ditch Your Diet.” The American Heart Association.

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Orem Family Medicine

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.