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Do you find it challenging to eat healthy while dining out?

You might be wondering if it is possible to make healthy choices when dining away from home.

Yes, there are healthy choices if you are aware of what to look for and ask for when dining out.  Many restaurants offer meals that are low in calories, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Learning and understanding what to look for, can improve the choices you make while dining away from home.  Keep portion size in mind, as most restaurants serve large portions that lead to increased amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

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A big challenge to dining out is finding and making good choices. Often, a restaurant, dinner party, or event will not have exactly what you want. These tips will assist you in these situations:

  • Plan Ahead
  • Having a plan will help you prepare for difficult situations.  By being prepared, you are more like to make healthy choices.
  • You can call ahead to the restaurant or look at the menu on-line to see what healthy options are available.
  • Eat less fat and fewer calories at breakfast and lunch if you plan to eat out in the evening.
  • Eat a small, healthy snack or drink a large, low-calorie or calorie-free beverage before you go out so you won’t be as tempted to overindulge on less healthy food.
  • Select what you will order before you get to the restaurant, and order without looking at the menu.
  • Order Healthy
  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, steamed, or stir-fried.
  • Select foods without gravy, sauce, butter, or ask for your food to be prepared without these extras.
  • Choose a low-calorie salad dressing and ask for it on the side so you can control how much is on your salad.
  • Keep Portion Sizes Small
  • Share your meal with someone.
  • Ask for a to-go box when your meal arrives and put a portion away for the next day.
  • Order a low calorie appetizer as your meal.
  • Load Up on Vegetables and Fruits
  • Make half your plate vegetables and fruits.
  • Steamed vegetables are always a good choice.
  •  Ask for a side salad in place of fries or chips when they come with your entrée.
  • Beware of Bread Choices
  • Choose 100% whole grain bread choices.table-791167_960_720
  • Order your sandwich without bread.
  • Pass the bread basket when it appears in front of you.

When your only choice is fast food, look on-line for specific nutrition information or use this resource for general tips when ordering from fast food chains.

If you’re dining at a buffet, keep in mind that they offer a variety of options which can lead to poor choices and overeating.  This guide gives some tips to consider before you go into a restaurant with a buffet.

Writer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Sources

National Diabetes Prevention Program, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/handout_session10.pdf

National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/distortion.htm

USDA, Choose My Plate, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-eating-foods-away-home

USDA Choose My Plate, https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/tentips/MPMW_Tipsheet_7_navigatethebuffet_0.pdf

USF Health at the University of South Florida, Tampa,

http://health.usf.edu/NR/rdonlyres/D5168BE9-98A7-4809-97E8-3EAA23A7006A/42723/HealthierFastFoodOptions.pdf

 

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