Healthy Ordering Tips For Restaurants

Stay on Track Wherever You Eat

In a previous article, I mentioned overall tips and suggestions on how to make eating out realistic and in line with your fitness goals. In this article, I wanted to highlight specific ordering suggestions for various cuisines. Whether you are eating at an Italian, Japanese or Indian restaurant, knowing what dishes to avoid and which to dig into will make eating out so much easier and stress free. Remember— it isn’t about always being perfect; it is about being mindful and making the best choices possible.

Healthy Ordering Tips For Restaurants

American

A typical American favorite is a nice juicy hamburger. See if they have turkey or bison burgers as a healthier option. Request a whole-wheat bun or better yet, ask for your patty to be wrapped in lettuce. Chicken or turkey sandwiches/wraps are always great options as well. Ask for whole wheat or rye bread over white. Load your sandwich/wrap with healthy toppings such as lettuce, cucumbers, sprouts and tomatoes. Avoid cheese, bacon and mayonnaise, which can all contribute unnecessary calories and fat. Wherever you see the word “melt,” best to stay away.

White-meat chicken, turkey or fish entrees are always great choices. Replace any mashed potato or french fry sides with steamed veggies or a side salad. Keep in mind that salad entrees can be a great choice but often can have just as many, if not more, calories than a burger. Avoid salads loaded with bacon, cheese, caramelized nuts and fruit. Look for salads that are full of vegetables, and ask for the dressing to be served on the side.

Chinese

There are some really great meat and vegetable dishes that are still healthy. Ginger chicken, beef and broccoli, seafood and vegetables are all great options as long as they are steamed and not fried. Be sure to ask for all sauces to be placed on the side or better yet removed so you are less tempted. Dipping sauces can add a significant amount of fat and unnecessary calories. Avoid deep-fried items and think steamed and sauce-free. Chicken lettuce cups can be a great option as long as you leave the bed of wonton noodles and ditch the dipping sauces.

Healthy Ordering Tips For Restaurants

Indian

Skip the naan bread and curries. Your best option is to choose lean protein skewers or other protein sources with a side of steamed vegetables.

Italian

First off, ask for NO bread. One slice can easily turn into four. A house salad, dressing on the side and no cheese, or sautéed calamari over fried are great starters. Steamed clams or raw oysters are also great options. As an entree, if you are really in the Italian mood and want pasta, see if they have whole wheat and always go with the tomato based or simply ask for olive and garlic.

Avoid creamy sauces such as fettuccine alfredo. If pizza is your choice, go for thin crust and light cheese. Italian restaurants have a wide selection of lean protein and seafood options that always make great choices. Ask for no butter and replace any side of carbohydrates with steamed vegetables and you have yourself an excellent choice.

Healthy Ordering Tips For Restaurants

Mexican

First off, ditch the chips, which are little triangles that can add up very quickly! Fajitas are a great choice because they are normally grilled and you can make your own tacos. Fish tacos without the cream sauce or a chicken or veggie tostada make great choices. With any entree, always ask for corn over flour tortillas and black beans over re-fried beans.

Ceviche makes a great meal. It is usually found on the appetizer menu but it can be added to a house salad for an excellent healthy Mexican dish. The juices from the ceviche marinade make for a great salad dressing so you don’t need to add anything else to it.

Sushi

Sushi can be extremely healthy if you keep it raw and stay away from fried or baked rolls. Sashimi is the safest and healthiest way to go. Nothing beats fresh raw fish. You want to watch out for eating too many rolls with rice. If brown is available, go for brown over white rice. Now several sushi chefs can prepare a roll wrapped in cucumber. Ask if that is an option and you can turn any roll into a cucumber roll.

Keep your rolls basic and stay away from any roll that has cream fillings or uses the word “crunchy.” Tempura is also a no-no. Seafood salad or seaweed salads are other great choices. Remember dressing on the side.

Healthy Ordering Tips For Restaurants

Thai

You will be surprised how many healthy options are available and conducive to our healthy lifestyle. You can always find protein and vegetable stir-fry. Just remember to avoid dipping sauces or cream-based entrees.

Out to Breakfast

An egg white dish doesn’t taste that much different than a regular egg omelet, so always ask for egg whites. Even if they cost a few extra dollars, it is well worth the savings in calories and excess saturated fat. Go for an egg white omelet loaded with veggies and without cheese. If you order a side of toast, go for wheat or rye and ask for it dry.

You can always substitute the potatoes or hash browns with a side of fresh fruit or sliced tomatoes. Oatmeal with fresh fruit is usually available and a great choice. Just be sure to opt out of the side of brown sugar and cream that usually accompanies the oatmeal.

Be sure to stay clear of muffins, doughnuts and bagels, which are loaded with sugars and fats. If you are in the mood for pancakes, opt for healthier options such as whole wheat or buckwheat, which make much better options.

I hope that helps you in your dining out experience and makes ordering a bit easier. Knowing what to order is half the battle. Once you do, you can see how you can go anywhere and still find items that will keep you on track with your goals!

Gina Aliotti

Gina is Co-Founder of Devotion Nutrition. She is a Professional Figure Competitor, certified personal trainer, certified yoga instructor, CrossFit instructor, nutritionist, and fitness consultant. Her passion is to inspire, motivate and teach people the tools to reach their lifelong fitness goals, in a realistic and fun way.

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