Eating out healthy on a regular basis is possible. Just know your options. This is a quick guide on various order modifications you can make so you eat healthier.
Here’s a list of many foods & drinks commonly served at restaurants and simple substitution requests you can make to make your orders healthier. Do this consistently when you eat out to improve your overall health in the long term.
Note: follow your healthcare professional’s advice over anything else as you may have allergies, sensitivities or underlying conditions that may not make these tips applicable to you
- white bread: ask for whole grain wheat
- white rice: ask for no/less/brown rice
- ranch dressing: ask for olive oil & vinegar
- tartar sauce: ask for malt vinegar
- refried beans: ask for black beans or pinto beans
- French fries: ask for vegetables or fruit
- cheese: ask for less or no cheese
- bacon: ask for less or no bacon
- soy sauce: ask for low sodium soy sauce and use sparingly
- fried foods: asked for baked or grilled versions instead
- pork or beef: ask for chicken, fish or veggie dishes instead
- spice: if you like spicy food, ask for the highest spice level you are comfortable with
- portion size: some places offer half-sized, senior-sized or kid-sized meals; so if you’re looking to reduce calories, ask for a smaller portion, or put half in a take-out box
- hot fudge or caramel sauce: ask for less or no sauce
- whipped cream: ask for less or no whipped cream
drinks (because “eating out healthy” isn’t limited to food)
- cocktails: ask for wine, light beer, or (ideally) water
- soda: ask for coffee, tea or water
- whole milk: ask for 1%, 2%, or non-dairy milk (i.e. almond milk, oat milk, pea milk, etc.)
- sugar: ask for raw honey or maple syrup (grade A dark flavor, robust taste – formerly grade B)
- water: What’s wrong with water? Nothing, but if you’re looking for flavor, ask for lemon, lime, orange and/or cucumber slices 🙂
final tips for eating out healthy
Remember to make these requests when you first order your food and, if you have any last-minute requests, try to make them before you receive your meal. Otherwise, the chef (and server) may not be too happy about remaking an order you originally placed.
If you’re having trouble making healthier food decisions, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for suggestions. Make sure they are aware that you’re working on eating out healthy and would appreciate their advice.
It’s important to make these healthy order modifications most of the time when you eat out so you can feel free to enjoy other less-than-healthy foods on special occasions.