Staying healthy when eating out


Love to dine out with friends and family? Turning to fast food because of your busy schedule? Being healthy doesn’t mean giving up restaurants. Follow these tips to guide you in making healthy menu choices.


Fast food

Look for salads, lean meats (chicken or turkey), vegetables or fruit for sides and sweets. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find healthy fast food options, so try not to eat them too often.  

Chinese and other Asian food

Eat less noodles and rice or choose brown rice. Don’t choose fried, battered meats. Try steamed dumplings and vegetables in lighter sauces. Try moo shu or steamed vegetables. Sushi or sashimi can be healthy, but mayo and other sauces can be high in fat and calories.


Italian and pizza

Choose whole wheat pasta or pizza crust when available. Opt for salads, lean meats and grilled vegetable sides. When it comes to toppings, order extra veggies rather than meats and cheeses.

Indian food

Choose whole wheat bread or brown rice. Coconut cream-based sauces will be higher calorie, so choose tomato-based sauces when possible.

Grill or pub

Look for salads with veggies or lean meats. Opt for grilled chicken in place of batter-fried. Don’t have fried appetizers and sides. Substitute whole wheat bread for sandwiches or burgers.


Limit extra sugar and calories by drinking water or diet soda instead of juice and regular soda. Milkshakes often have the same calories as a meal, so they should be a dessert on rare occasions.

Snacks and sweets

It’s likely you’re eating extra calories no matter what when dining out. Try to save snacks and sweets for special occasions like birthday dinners.

Portion control (the amount you eat) 

Take home half of your meal. Share a main dish. Order an appetizer as your main meal. “Kids meals” do not necessarily mean kid-sized. Divide out what a normal meal should be for your child and bring the rest home. See the portion size handout on our website.

Salad bars can be a healthy choice, but be careful what you add. High-fat meats, cheese, olives, avocado and dressing can make your salad higher calorie than a fried meal if you are not careful. 

Use these tips when you dine out. The more you dine out, the more important it is to make these healthier choices. The best choice is to limit eating out and prepare healthy meals at home when possible.