Making Healthy Choices While Dining Out

a person eating a salad at a restaurant

March is National Nutrition Month!  This month is focused on making nutritious food choices and developing lifestyle habits that will keep you feeling happy and healthy!  But how can you make sound choices while dining out at a restaurant? 

Preparing meals at home can be an effective way to help make healthy choices, since you are able to control the types and amounts of foods and ingredients.  On those days when you choose to eat out, you can still make healthy choices even though you’re away from home!

 

Here are some tips to ensure you are keeping up with your healthy eating while dining out:

  • Hydrate! In general, it’s important to drink lots of water.  However, drinking water before and during a meal can also help you eat slower and aid in digestion. When choosing a drink to complement your meal, opt for water, unsweetened tea, milk, 100% fruit juice, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • Look for meals on the menu that include whole grains, healthy fats, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.  These are the components of a well-balanced meal that  helps to ensure you are getting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to staying healthy.
  • Personalize your meal! Ask to see if the chef can prepare your meal to your liking. For example, choose to have meat grilled instead of fried.  Request dressings, sauces, and gravies on the side so you can control how much you use.
  • Watch your portion size. It can be easy to overeat while at a restaurant, especially if the restaurant offers large portions. But, don’t feel obligated to eat your whole plate! Try practicing mindful eating or even visualizing how much you would normally eat while at home and replicating that. Plus, you can take any leftovers home!

 

For more tips about making healthier choices when dining out, check out USDA’s handout on eating away from home.

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