Eating Out: Tips for Making Healthy Choices

Eating Out: Tips for Making Healthy Choices

It’s not easy to change the habits of a lifetime. Experts say that it can take 6 months just to change one old habit for a healthier one. That’s why gradual change is so important. These tips are reminders of the dozens of small ways you can change your habits when eating out. Don’t expect to follow each tip all the time. Think of the tips as options for handling situations that may have given you trouble in the past.

Man and woman putting salad on plates at salad bar.

Fast food tips

  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches and plain hamburgers.

  • Remove the skin from fried chicken and choose mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and baked beans on the side.

  • Order a broiled chicken salad and pile on fresh vegetables from the salad bar. Use a small amount of low-fat dressing.

  • Top a baked potato with cottage cheese and vegetables from the salad bar.

  • Ask for a pizza topped with vegetables.

Restaurant tips

  • Plan ahead. Decide what you will eat before you get to the restaurant. If you plan to eat high-fat foods, choose low-fat foods during the rest of the day.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask how foods are prepared and whether they can be done without high-fat ingredients, such as cream, butter, cheese, and oil.

  • Ask for sauces and salad dressings on the side and use just a tablespoon. Ask for low-fat dressings.

  • Try starting your meal with a bowl of vegetable soup. This may help to prevent you from overeating during the meal.

  • Order meat, poultry, and fish broiled, grilled, baked, poached, or steamed. Always remove the skin from chicken.

  • Choose Mexican dishes made with soft, rather than crispy tortillas. For toppings, use salsa and lettuce, rather than sour cream and cheese.

  • For dessert, enjoy fruit, sorbet, or low-fat frozen yogurt. Share a rich dessert with friends.

  • Make a meal out of a low-fat appetizer (such as shrimp cocktail or fresh pasta), bread, and salad as your main meal. Ask for an appetizer-size portion of an entree.