Health Tips for Dining Out

Cafe Sign

Research has shown that people generally consume more calories and eat less healthfully when eating out. Whether you dine at a fast-food or expensive restaurant, there are simple strategies that can help.

Before you dine

  • Manage your hunger: Grab a light snack or beverage before you go out.
  • Check the menu: Make sure it has good choices and/or will allow substitutions.
  • The bread/butter pitfall: Ask for the free chips or bread to be served with the meal or not at all.
  • Drink a sugarless beverage while you wait.

Know some key words

How a food is cooked can determine how healthy it is. Use the name and description of a dish to help you enjoy low-fat meals.

Look for

  • Steamed
  • Baked
  • Barbecued
  • Grilled
  • Poached
  • Roasted
  • Broiled
  • Boiled


  • Creamy or Creamed
  • Alfredo (cheese & cream sauce)
  • Au Gratin (with cheese)
  • Scampi (in butter sauce)
  • Bisque (creamy soup)
  • Hollandaise (egg yolk and oil sauce)
  • Buttery
  • Crispy

Slice the portion size

Restaurant portion sizes have ballooned over the last two decades. Try these techniques to enjoy healthful portion sizes, and you may even save money.

  • Share your meal with a friend.
  • Before you dig in ask for and separate half your meal into a doggie bag.
  • Order smaller items, such as an appetizer and soup.
  • Eat slowly to help you realize if you’re full.

Order smart

  • On the side: Ask for any high-fat condiments, such as dressings and sauces to be served on the side.
  • Substitute: For example, on pizza, substitute vegetable toppings instead of sausage and pepperoni; try whole wheat crusts.
  • Hold the butter: Order vegetables with nothing or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
  • Fruit desserts: Order a fruity dessert and share it with a friend.