Healthy Restaurant Meals Healthy Menu Planning For Eating Out Healthy

Going out to restaurants is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends, but it can be hard when you’re trying to eat healthy. Restaurant meals are often served in huge portions that are loaded with calories and saturated fat. If you want to be able to eat at a restaurant without blowing your diet, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind for eating out healthy.

The Do’s of Healthy Menu Planning While Dining Out

  • Do ask for a to-go box when you place your order. Then, immediately box up half your meal as soon as it’s served. You’ll be less tempted to eat the whole thing if half of it has already been packed up.
  • Do ask the server questions about how the food is prepared. Cooking methods such as steaming, broiling and grilling add less fat to the dish than frying or sautéing.
  • Do check out the menu before you arrive; you’ll be less tempted to order an unhealthy meal if you’ve already chosen your meal before you sit down. You may be able to find the menu on the website for the restaurant–diet guides with calorie and nutritional information are sometimes available, too.
  • Do choose a restaurant with healthy menu planning options. The healthy options may be listed in a separate section on the menu (“lighter fare”), or marked with a symbol such as a heart to denote heart-healthy meals.
  • Do request that sauces and salad dressings be served on the side. Then, add only as much to your food as needed.
  • Do search the menu for entrées that feature a lean source of protein, such as chicken breast or fish.
  • Do substitute unhealthy sides, such as french fries, with healthy ones, like salad or steamed vegetables.

The Don’ts of Eating Out

  • Don’t clean your plate. Keep asking yourself if you are still hungry as you eat your meal. If not, then stop eating.
  • Don’t fill up on the bread that is often served before the meal. If you do have bread, skip the butter.
  • Don’t order a fancy cocktail. These are high in calories and low in nutrition. If you want an alcoholic drink, stick to a single glass of wine.
  • Don’t take the attitude that eating out healthy is impossible. Going out to dinner is not an excuse to ditch your goals for healthy eating. The key is to learn to maximize the healthful options that are available and avoid the unhealthy pitfalls and temptations that go along with eating out.


American Heart Association. (2010). Deciphering the menu. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from

American Heart Association. (2010). Ordering your meal. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from