How to Stay Healthy While Eating Out (Eat. Live. Be. For a Better 2011)

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, a day that seemed to sneak up on me without warning. No longer am I “barely 30.” No longer am I “practically still in my 20s.” I’m firmly planted in my 30s. And it’s okay.

For my birthday, I relaxed. I sat on a sun porch and read several chapters. I took the kids to the beach and built drip castles and played in the water. And I took everyone out for lunch.

It wasn’t a healthy lunch. It could have been, but I indulged. Fortunately, this post isn’t about indulging — it’s about being healthy even when you are eating out. And normally, I try to do just that.

For instance, when Cate and I were in Seattle, we often split dishes. It allowed us to sample more without overdoing our portions. But even on a non-food lovers trip, it’s totally possible to eat out and still be your healthy self. Swear.

6 Tips for Eating Out Healthy

  1. Preview the Menu – It’s way easier to assess the food a restaurant offers from the comfort of your home, when you are objective and not swayed by the natural temptations of seeing delicious dishes being served. Figure out the best options, and check nutritional information. Also, if there are any less than healthy ones that catch your eye, check out their nutritionals too.
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Small Changes – Generally, I believe in ordering off the menu (otherwise, why go there?), but it’s okay to ask for small changes — like hold the mayo or switching in steamed veggies for the fries. Don’t forget the please and thank you.
  3. Get Dressing on the Side – Look, chances are that the restaurant isn’t using measuring spoons to ensure that your creamy blue cheese dressing is a perfect tablespoon or two. And letting them dress the salad with as much dressing as they like can make that tasty salad into a health-nightmare. Instead, ask for dressing on the side so that you can control how much is used.
  4. Avoid Fried Anything – I am a sucker for fried clams, fried oysters, sweet potato fries and the like. But when you want to eat out and stay healthy, these are the worst choices. Avoid them.
  5. Split It – Just because a restaurant serves you a giant plate with an enormous, towering pile of food, it doesn’t mean that it’s one portion. More like two or three in most cases. Consider splitting an entree with someone else or just have half of it packed up to take home. Either way, you just don’t want to overeat.
  6. Skip or Split the Dessert – Those creamy, dense slices of cheesecake and rich, molten chocolate cakes look amazing. But they are big-time diet-busters. In fact, one slice of cheesecake can be twice as many calories as you should eat in a whole day. So, saying no can really be the best option. But if you really, really can’t live without it, try to split it with 2-3 other people.

How do you stay healthy while eating out?

Be sure to check out the other ELB bloggers too.


  1. says

    Those are great tips! Reviewing the menu ahead of time (if it’s on-line, some local restaurants aren’t that tech savvy sometimes), is a great way to plan ahead.

  2. says

    Great tips – I employ several of them when I’m eating out! I especially like previewing the menu; that way I go in with a game plan, and am much less likely to make rash (and often unhealthy) decisions. My mantra is, “assume restaurant food has twice as many calories as it would have if you had made it at home”. That helps me control portion size!

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