Dining Smart While Dining Out: Healthy Tips for Eating Out

Over the last several months many people have been getting take-out to support their local restaurants throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, and now with restaurants reopening, people have begun dining out again. A common question that I am often asked is, “what can I order at a restaurant that is healthy?”. There are many menu items that can be hidden with fat, calories, and sodium, but there are ways to make healthier choices at restaurants.

First, sauces and salad dressings are often loaded with fat and sodium. The types of dressings with the most fat are oftentimes the creamy dressings such as Ranch, Russian, or Caesar, with around 15 g - 20 g of fat per serving and 150-200 calories (Cervoni, 2020). The serving size for dressing is usually only 2 tablespoons but restaurants oftentimes put way more than a serving on your salad! A good way to avoid an abundance of calories spent on dressings or sauces is to ask for them on the side and put them on yourself. Another option is to use a dressing that is not creamy, like a vinaigrette or Italian dressing, that are less in fat and calories.

Another tactic in making healthy choices at a restaurant is along the same lines as avoiding the creamy salad dressings. When choosing soups and entrees, skip the creamy ones. Look for soups that are broth or tomato based because they are much less in calories and fat than the creamy soups, like the chowders or broccoli and cheese. Same goes for the entrees, any creamy based pasta meals like fettuccine Alfredo, or fried foods, like fried chicken or shrimp, have the highest fat and calorie contents. Look for the baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, and steamed entrees (“Make Healthy Choices at Any Restaurant”, 2020).

A final suggestion for healthy choices when eating out is to focus on vegetables or fruits when ordering appetizers and sides. For example, hummus dip with veggies, edamame, fruit cups, and spring rolls are all healthy appetizers. When it comes to sides, a salad, steamed vegetables, and a baked potato, are all healthier options than french fries, potato chips, or onion rings.

Getting take-out or going out to eat is always fun but it can be worrisome when you are trying to eat healthy. Just by following a few simple guidelines you can enjoy eating out and also eat a healthy meal that is not loaded with excess fat, calories, and sodium.


Barbie Cervoni MS, R. (2020, April 20). How to Choose a Healthier Salad Dressings Without

Sacrificing Flavor. Retrieved July 26, 2020, from

Make healthy choices at any restaurant. (2020). Retrieved July 26, 2020, from

Top 10 Tips for Eating Out. (2018, November 7). Retrieved July 26, 2020, from