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Nutrition Library: Healthy Eating

Making Smart Choices When You're Eating Out

  • Choose the restaurant carefully.
  • Are there lowfat as well as high-fiber selections on the menu?
  • Is there a salad bar?
  • How are the meat, chicken, and fish dishes cooked?
  • Can you have menu items broiled or baked without added fat instead of fried?

These are important things to know before you enter a restaurant--fast food or otherwise. Seafood restaurants usually offer broiled, baked, or poached fish, and you can often request butter and sauces on the side. Many steak houses offer small steaks and have salad bars.

Try ethnic cuisines.

  • Italian and Asian restaurants often feature low-fat dishes though you must be selective and alert to portion size.
  • Steamed rice, steamed noodle dishes, and vegetarian dishes are good choices too.
  • Ask that the chef cook your food without soy sauce or salt to decrease sodium.
  • Some Latin American restaurants feature a variety of fish and chicken dishes that are low in fat.

How do I stay in control when I eat out?

  • Ask how dishes are cooked.
  • Don't hesitate to request that one food be substituted for another.
  • Order a green salad or baked potato in place of french fries or order fruit, fruit ice, or sherbet instead of ice cream.
  • Request sauces and salad dressings on the side and use only a small amount.
  • Ask that butter not be sent to the table with your rolls.
  • If you're not very hungry, order two low-fat appetizers rather than an entire meal,
  • Split a menu item with a friend, get a doggie-bag to take half of your meal home, or order a half-size portion.
  • When you have finished eating, have the waiter clear the dishes away so that you can avoid post-meal nibbling

(Reprinted with permission from the United States General Services Administration)

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