With the summer season in full swing, I find myself wanting to eat out all the time! I love sitting outside and having a leisurely dinner, but I worry about the amount of calories I’m consuming. Restaurants often pack in a lot of hidden calories, fat and sugar into their recipes so it is important to be mindful of what you are eating. For today’s Motivate Me Monday, here are some tips for eating healthy at restaurants.

10 Tips for Eating Healthy While Eating Out:

  1. For your beverage, be sure to go for drinks that aren’t packed with sugar. Go for water, unsweetened tea, or low-fat milk. If you want to order an alcoholic beverage, try a red wine since at least you will be getting a daily dose of antioxidants.
  2. Start your meal with a side salad. Be sure to get your fill of veggies before your main course.
  3. Order your salad dressing on the side. One tip that my high school biology teacher taught me 15 years ago was to order your salad dressing on the side and then dip your fork into your dressing before each bite. You will still get all the flavor but only consume about half the calories and fat that you would if you just dumped your dressing on your salad.
  4. Skip the Bread. Most restaurants offer bread before a meal, but how many of you have a bread appetizer before meals at home? Bread before a meal is not necessary and often will make you full so you can’t enjoy your main course.
  5. Stay away from heavy creams or gravies; they tend to have the highest fat and calorie contents. Instead, look for foods marinated in vinegars or lemon or lime juices.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask your server what the healthiest options on the menu are. Many restaurants don’t offer nutritional values, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t know what they put into their recipes. If the server isn’t sure, kindly ask them to ask the chef for the healthiest options.
  7. Look for words such as broiled, steamed or grilled when ordering your meal. Those options tend to be healthier than foods that are fried or sautéed.
  8. Choose your sides wisely. Most restaurants do offer healthier side alternatives to fries or tater tots. Many now offer a side of veggies, cottage cheese or fruit so be sure to ask for those options when possible.
  9. Be mindful of serving sizes. Most restaurants offer huge portions, so be sure you are NOT a member of the clean plate club. You can ask your server to bring you a to-go container as soon as your meal arrives so you can put half of it in there and save it for another meal.
  10. If you choose a dessert, ask for a fresh fruit cup. Fresh fruit is very satisfying and sweet; a perfect dessert option to end a meal.

*This advice should not replace the advice of your doctor.