Navigating restaurants can be challenging when trying to eat nutritious food. The great thing is that you can absolutely enjoy going out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert when you are focused on nutrition.
There are plenty of restaurants that have vegan, vegetarian, and overall healthy options to order. While it is easiest to order at places geared towards nutritious eating, if you end up at a place that serves the standard American diet (SAD diet) you can still make good choices.
Dining Out Rules of Thumb
- When eating out with friends, order first. You will be much less likely to jump on the, “OK, I’ll just have a burger too” bandwagon if you have already placed your nutritious order.
- Eat out with friends who have the same goals as you and encourage each other.
- Choose restaurants you know have nutritious options.
- Order vinaigrette based dressing, which helps lower the saturated fat content and order dressing on the side. This allows you to control the amount that you put on your food.
- Keep it simple when ordering. Order things that have a clear explanation of what they are. For example, ordering a bowl with quinoa, kale, shredded carrots, mushrooms, and chickpeas is going to be easier to list, whereas pasta with sauce might leave you guessing.
- Always remember you can modify or change up your order. If something has an ingredient that you don’t want, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be taken off or replaced with a more nutritious option! I do it all the time!
- Ask for more vegetables. Ask for extra veggie toppings on wraps, pizzas and sandwiches. Order sides of leafy green salad or cooked vegetables. Substitute your fries with vegetables.
- Choose whole grains. Look for dishes made with whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, barley or oats. Many restaurants now offer whole grain buns, tortilla wraps, pasta or pizza crust upon request.
- Get sauce on the side. Sauces, condiments, dressings and spreads add fat and sodium to your meal. Ask for these on the side and then use just enough to get flavor.
- Skip sweetened drinks. Drink water instead of soda, sweet tea or lemonade. Try sparkling water with lemon or lime wedges.
Here are a few of my favorite restaurants with nutritious options. Time to use your new ordering skills!