Eating healthy while eating out

It’s not always easy to make good choices when eating out, but there are ways to watch your portions and order foods from the menu that are considered healthier for you.

Let’s face it, even if you love to cook there will be times when you don’t have the time or ingredients to prepare a meal…or you just need a break! Eating out is a great option, but if you’re trying to eat healthier, you might find it a challenge to make good choices.

The encouraging news is that eating out doesn’t have to be unhealthy. The key is learning how to choose food from the menu that is considered to be a healthier choice and to watch your portions.

The book, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” offers the following tips:

  • Eat at restaurants that offer foods that are prepared in healthier ways such as grilled, broiled, baked, and/or steamed versus fried, sautéed, creamed or cheese covered foods.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared especially if you’ve never had it before.
  • Plan ahead – look at the menu items posted in the front of the restaurant or online. Decide what and how much you’re going to eat before ordering.
  • Consider ordering smaller portions (lunch or appetizers) instead of main courses.
  • Look for menu items lower in fat, sodium and sugar.
  • Ask to have your vegetables raw or steamed – stay away from butter, sauces and dips.
  • If you’re with a group, order first so you aren’t tempted to change your mind.
  • If possible, order a half portion. If this isn’t an option, share an entrée with a dinner companion or ask for a take-home container when your food is brought to you and box half of it up before you begin eating.
  • Order your salad with dressing on the side and dip your fork or lettuce in the dressing.
  • For dessert, choose fruit, nonfat yogurt, sorbet or sherbet.

Michigan State Uuniversity Extension offers nutrition and disease prevention management classes that focus on making healthier food choices. For more information contact your local MSU Extension office. 

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