Hate packing a lunch? Going out, or picking up carryout from your favorite lunch spot can be convenient, but it might not be the most nutritious choice. Whether it is the local deli or a popular fast casual restaurant, making healthy food choices while eating out can be a challenge. 

Eating out can be tough on your diet, especially if you are trying to lose weight and eat more nutritious foods. Popular areas are packed with restaurants that strive to please the masses, often with calorie-dense, fried, or richly prepared foods. And if you are travelling, choices at airports and highway travel stops often favor convenience over nutrition. 

So how can you find healthy foods while eating out? Our CoreLife dietitians have pulled together a few tips that you can use when selecting foods from any menu.

First, if the restaurant provides nutrition information on the menu or online, it is worth taking a look at before you visit. Try to make a selection in advance, so you don’t get caught choosing something unhealthy when you are “hangry” or in a rush. If the servings are large, you can also share a dish or order from the kids menu for a smaller portion.

When selecting side dishes, opt for color. Fruit, vegetables, and salads are a better choice than fries or chips and most restaurants will happily make a substitution. You can also increase the color of your meal by looking for veggie forward dishes, like stir fries or vegetarian selections. 

In the mood for an appetizer? Choose a salad instead, or share an appetizer with the whole table so you are limited to a few bites. And don’t skip meals before you eat out. You do not want to be overly hungry when you reach the table. A small snack of nuts, cheese, yogurt, or fruit can stave off cravings.

Many restaurant menus can be overwhelming and it can be hard to decipher what is healthy and what is not. Descriptive words can provide clues to how a recipe is prepared. Choose foods described as “baked”, “roasted”, or “steamed” as opposed to “fried”, “creamy”, or “smothered”. 

Is it “bad” to eat out once and a while? Absolutely not! Successful lifestyle change is about balance. If that means having dessert or treating yourself to a special meal out – go for it!  Use these tips to make healthier choices while eating out, but remember that one meal is just one meal – what you eat every day matters most!

To get started with CoreLife, call (800) 905-3261, and one of our Patient Navigators will assist you, or you can fill out the “Contact Us” form here https://corelifemd.com/contact-us/ and one of our Patient Navigators will give you a call!