Tips for eating healthier when dining out

Young woman with a friend ordering to waiter holding digital tablet. Two women sitting at cafe holding menu card giving an order to male waiter.

NC) We’ve all been there — too tired to cook after a long day at work and hanging out with the kids so you order delivery, or give in to a tempting invitation from a friend to join them for dinner and drinks at your favourite restaurant. Either way, your goal of eating healthy meals is out the window. Or is it? Whether you’re eating out more often than you’d like or simply enjoy indulging in restaurant food, you can make healthier, more nutritious food choices with a bit of information. Here are the top tips experts recommend for healthier eating when dining out:

1. Develop a game plan. Do some research before heading out the door or picking up the phone. Most restaurants post their menus with nutrition information online, so you can get a better idea of which dishes are better options. If you can’t access this info online, ask your server. Consider everything you’re going to consume — you might plan on ordering a salad, but if you’re also going to have dessert and a Cosmo, you might be eating more calories than you think.

2. Portion control. Many restaurants and fast food places offer much larger portions than necessary. Consider splitting an entrée or bringing half home for easy leftovers. Looking beyond mains is also a great alternative, as sides and appetizers can sometimes be great options in smaller portions.

3. Ask for info: Ask how the food is prepared. Look for foods that are grilled, baked or broiled instead of fried. Ask for dressings or sauces on the side as these often have lots of calories, fat and sodium. This way you have more control of how much you add to your dish. And try and substitute fries for vegetables and order a salad whenever possible.

4. Make it a treat. Busy lifestyles and new trending restaurants mean eating out is more common than ever, but try to prepare as many meals at home as possible so you can control the ingredients. Or choose healthier options most of the time you dine out, and save the all-out pasta, ice cream, and breadsticks feast for a special occasion.

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