Top 10 Tips for Eating Out

couple looking at a menu at a restaurant

Eating out can be a nice treat once in a while or a convenient option when you don't have time to cook a meal. But the fat, calories, sugar and sodium can add up quickly if you eat out regularly. Use these tips to make healthy choices the next time you eat out.

Managing your portions when eating out

1. Keep it small. Portion sizes at fast food counters and restaurants are usually bigger than what you would normally eat at home. Ask for half portions, share a large meal with a friend, or pack up part of your meal to take home. 

2. Divide up dessert. If you’re still hungry, finish your meal with fruit or sip on a plain cappuccino sprinkled with cinnamon. If you love rich desserts, order one and ask for spoons to split with your friends! 

3. Avoid super-sizing. Super-sized meal combinations might seem like a good deal, but they're often high fat, calories, sugar and/or sodium.

Making healthier choices when eating out

4. Ask for more vegetables. For more fibre, ask for extra veggie toppings on wraps, burgers, pizzas and sandwiches. Order sides of leafy green salad or cooked vegetables. Substitute your fries with vegetables. 

5. Go for whole grains. Look for dishes made with whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, barley or oats. Many restaurants now offer whole wheat or whole grain buns, tortilla wraps, pasta or pizza crust upon request.

6. Keep sodium in check. Choose fewer foods that have been smoked or made with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. Look for "light" versions of these sauces and ask for them to be served on the side. Find out how to spot foods high in sodium.

7. Get sauce on the side. Sauces, condiments, dressings and spreads can add fat and sodium to your meal. Ask for these on the side and then use just enough to get some flavour. 

8. Skip sweet drinks. Drink water or low-fat milk instead of sweetened drinks such as soda pop, ice tea or lemonade. Try sparkling water with lemon or lime wedges. If you drink alcohol, limit it to one or two drinks for the day.

Getting informed when eating out

9. Ask how food is prepared. Order foods that have been steamed, baked, broiled, grilled, or roasted. Fat and calories add up quickly when food is fried, deep-fried or breaded.

10 Look ahead. Ask for the nutrition information or visit the restaurant's website ahead of time. Look for healthier options that are higher in protein, fibre and vitamins and lower in calories, fat, sugar and sodium.

Bottom line

With a little planning, you can make healthier choices when eating out. 

You may also be interested in:

Keeping portions under control

10 ways to shake the salt habit when dining out

You can ask…for more veggies

Last Update – November 7, 2018

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