How to Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out

Hey Everyone!  Today I want to share some tips with you on how to eat healthy when you eat out.  I love eating at home because I know exactly what I’m fixing.  But, I also enjoy eating out and not having to cook or clean!  When I first started eating healthy, I used to get completely stressed out when going out to eat.  I would avoid it as much as I could.  I would decline invitations from friends and make excuses as I why I couldn’t meet for lunch because I didn’t want to break my routine of healthy eating.  I would think that I’ve been eating so good, I don’t want to go out and blow it on a three course meal.  Thankfully, I finally realized that you can eat out and eat healthy too.  Lots of restaurants offer low calorie or healthy entrée options.  You just have to know what to order. 

I want to share with you what has helped me to be able to eat out with family and friends and not stress about it.  I’ve gotten to the point where I can find something anywhere we go because I know what to order. 

Know what you are going to order in advance 

I don’t remember where I heard this tip, but it has completely saved me!  If I know where we are going before we go, I will look up the menu online and decide on what I’m ordering before we get there.  This way, once we are there I don’t even have to look at the menu and be tempted by all the unhealthy choices. 

Try to avoid ordering fried foods.  Look for grilled chicken, lean cuts of beef, and steamed vegetables.  Also, watch out when you order a salad.  All of the toppings that are added on to it can end up being more calories than a hamburger!

Order smaller portions

 The sizes of some entrees can be enough for two meals.  I always try to order off of the lunch menu, or even the kids menu.  This way I am getting a smaller portion meal – which is plenty – and I don’t have the risk of overeating! 

Share a meal

If you are eating with friends or family, you could always ask to share a meal with someone.  My husband and I almost always share meals.  I will order a side salad, and he will order an entrée.   I’ll eat my salad and a little bit of his meal.

Watch out for sauces and dressings

I have found that most restaurants will have a grilled chicken breast, or some lean cut of beef.  But, most of the time it is served smothered in some kind of sauce or cheese.  I always order it plain.  I also always order my salad dressing on the side.  This way it doesn’t come out drowned in dressing and I can put as much or as little on it as I want.  I will usually dip my fork in the dressing and then into my salad.   Dressings are full of fat and calories, so I try to order fat free or vinaigrettes.  

Skip the appetizer

If you were eating at home, would you eat an appetizer?  Most appetizers are deep fried or bread.  You don’t need that!  If you can’t wait for your meal, order a side salad with the dressing on the side. 

Ask for a to-go box

If you order a big meal, ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal comes.  This way you can put half in the box to take home for later and you don’t eat more than you need in one setting. 

Skip dessert

This can be a hard one for people with a sweet tooth.  I love dessert!  And, I really love fancy brownies with lots of sweet sauces, or big pieces of pie.  But, restaurant style desserts have way more calories and added sugars than homemade ones.  Just say no! 

How to Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out - Run and Live Happy


It took me a little while, but I figured out a healthy meal at each of the restaurants in my town so that way I will always know what to order when I eat out. 

I also stopped eating fast food.  I used to eat it several times a week.  But since I started my healthy lifestyle journey a few years ago, I might eat fast food once every few months, if that.  I know which fast food places I can eat something somewhat healthy at, and if we are in a pinch and have to eat fast food, those are the restaurants that I will eat at. 

I also want to add to this post about how I handle eating at friend’s houses.  When we go over to a friend’s house, I usually don’t know what the meal is going to be.  And, usually when it’s a big gathering, the menu is just a lot of finger foods that everyone brings.  (Usually all unhealthy!)  In this case, I do a couple of things to deal with this.  If I know that there isn’t going to be anything healthy there, I will eat some kind of protein before we go.  This way I’m not hungry and won’t “graze” all night.  Or, I will fix a small plate and that is all I will allow myself to eat.  If I’m still hungry, I will drink a lot of water and then eat something when I get home.  The last way that I handle this is to take a healthy dish.  I will make a salad or a vegetable and that way I will know there will at least be one thing healthy that I can eat. 

How to Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out - Run and Live Happy

I don’t eat healthy 100% of the time, but I try to do so most of the time.  I really have just learned to listen to my body and how I feel after I eat unhealthy foods.  I don’t like feeling full, bloated, miserable, and having an upset stomach, so I avoid foods that make me feel like that.  Just listen to what your body tells you!  But, don’t restrict yourself because then you will want it more.  I do indulge in a burger or a couple of cookies every now and then.  But, overall I try to eat clean and healthy the majority of the time! 

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4 thoughts on “How to Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out

  1. Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

    I actually often will order appetizers — because then I can get to try a couple of things, and they’re often smaller portion sizes. Not fried things, but things like maybe gnocchi at an italian restaurant — I’ll get the appetizer and a salad.

    The only time I eat fast food is when I’m traveling and then it’s almost always salads, too! We moved here 8 years ago, and for the most part, I probably couldn’t even tell you where the fast food restaurants are.

    If I go to a friend’s house, I will usually offer to bring something and most likely will have a snack so that I don’t go hungry.

    I’ve been at weight management a long time, but eating out can still be tricky and sometimes a little angst provoking.

    1. Profile photo of Tara


      I like your plan for ordering appetizers! That’s a great idea! Eating out can be tricky and stressful!

  2. San

    Those are great tips, Tara. I do the same (with looking up menus in advance), but also will sometimes treat myself when eating out with something that I completely avoid having at home… (like fries or a fried appetizer).

    I think the mindset/attitude is everything and knowing what will make you feel good.

    1. Profile photo of Tara


      I do the same when we eat out every now and then. If I’m craving a burger, I’ll eat one. Or, if we go to a restaurant that we rarely ever go to then I will enjoy it!

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