NutritionTips for Dining Out While Maintaining Health

Tips for Dining Out While Maintaining Health

Dining out can be a fun and enjoyable experience, but it can also be a challenge when trying to maintain a healthy diet. With tempting menu options, large portions, and hidden ingredients, it can be easy to steer off track from your healthy eating goals. However, with a little planning and mindfulness, you can still enjoy dining out while keeping your health in check. In this article, we will discuss some helpful tips for dining out while maintaining a healthy diet.

Choose Healthy Options

The most important aspect of maintaining a healthy diet while dining out is making conscious choices about what you eat. This means opting for healthier options on the menu rather than indulging in high-calorie, high-fat meals. Here are some tips for choosing healthy options while dining out:

Look for dishes that are steamed, grilled, or roasted

When browsing through the menu, look for keywords such as “grilled,” “steamed,” or “roasted.” These cooking methods use less oil and are generally healthier options compared to fried dishes.

Choose lean protein sources

Protein is an essential macronutrient for our bodies, but not all protein sources are created equal. When dining out, choose lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, or tofu. These options are lower in saturated fats and calories compared to red meats like beef or pork.

Load up on vegetables

Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and are low in calories. When dining out, try to include a serving of vegetables with your meal. You can request for extra vegetables or order a side salad.

Skip the sauces and dressings

Many sauces and dressings used in restaurants are high in calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Instead of drenching your food in these condiments, opt for healthier alternatives such as lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or olive oil.

Choose whole grain options

If your meal comes with a side of bread or pasta, opt for whole grain options instead of white bread or refined pasta. Whole grains are higher in fiber and nutrients, making them a healthier choice.

Portion Control

Tips for Dining Out While Maintaining Health

Portion sizes at restaurants are often much larger than what we would typically eat at home. It can be tempting to finish the entire plate, but this can lead to overeating and consuming more calories than our bodies need. Here are some ways to practice portion control while dining out:

Share a meal

Many restaurants offer large portions that can easily feed two people. Consider sharing a dish with a friend or family member to keep your calorie intake in check.

Ask for a to-go box

If you don’t have someone to share your meal with, ask for a to-go box right away. Once your meal arrives, immediately put half of it in the box to save for later. This will prevent you from overeating and also give you a delicious meal to enjoy the next day.

Order appetizers as entrees

Appetizers are typically smaller portions compared to main dishes. Consider ordering a few appetizers as your meal instead of one large entree. You can also mix and match different dishes to get a variety of flavors and nutrients.

Use smaller plates

A simple trick to control portion sizes is to use a smaller plate. This will automatically limit the amount of food you can fit on your plate, helping you to avoid overeating.

Stay Hydrated

Tips for Dining Out While Maintaining Health

Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining good health, but it can be easy to forget to drink water when dining out. Here are some tips to ensure you stay hydrated while dining out:

Drink water before and during your meal

Before your meal arrives, make sure to drink a glass of water. This will not only help you stay hydrated but also help you feel fuller, which can prevent overeating. Throughout your meal, continue to sip on water to stay hydrated.

Avoid sugary drinks

Many restaurants offer a wide variety of sugary drinks such as soda, juice, and cocktails. These drinks are high in calories and can quickly add up. Instead, opt for water, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water with lemon.

Skip the alcohol

Although it’s tempting to have a drink or two when dining out, alcohol is high in calories and can lead to poor food choices and overeating. If you do choose to have a drink, limit yourself to one and opt for lower calorie options such as wine or light beer.

Be Mindful of Ingredients

It’s essential to be mindful of the ingredients used in the dishes you order when dining out. Many restaurant meals can be loaded with hidden sugars, unhealthy fats, and preservatives. Here are some tips for being aware of ingredients while dining out:

Read the menu carefully

Take the time to read the menu carefully and pay attention to any notes or descriptions of the dishes. Look for keywords such as “fried,” “creamy,” or “battered,” as these can indicate higher calorie and unhealthy options.

Ask about substitutions

Don’t be afraid to ask your server if you can make substitutions to your meal. For example, you can request for grilled chicken instead of fried, or steamed vegetables instead of mashed potatoes. Most restaurants are accommodating to dietary preferences and will be happy to make changes to your dish.

Avoid processed and packaged foods

Packaged and processed foods are often high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and added sugars. When dining out, avoid dishes that are heavily processed or contain many packaged ingredients.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is often served at most restaurants, but it’s important to limit your consumption if you want to maintain a healthy diet. Here are some ways to limit your alcohol intake while dining out:

Set a limit

Before going out, decide on a limit for the number of drinks you will have. Stick to your limit and avoid ordering more than you planned for.

Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

Instead of having multiple drinks in one sitting, alternate between alcohol and water or another non-alcoholic drink. This will help you stay hydrated and reduce your overall alcohol consumption.

Choose lower calorie options

If you do choose to have a drink, opt for lower calorie options such as wine, light beer, or cocktails made with club soda instead of sugary mixers.

Plan Ahead

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet while dining out is to plan ahead. Here are some tips for planning ahead when dining out:

Look up the menu beforehand

If possible, look up the restaurant’s menu online before you go. This will allow you to make healthier choices beforehand and avoid being tempted by unhealthy options when you arrive.

Eat a healthy snack beforehand

Eating a small, healthy snack before heading to the restaurant can help prevent overeating. This way, you won’t be starving when you arrive, and you’ll be less likely to order more food than you need.

Choose the right restaurant

When choosing a restaurant, opt for those that offer healthier options and accommodate dietary preferences. Many restaurants now offer menus with nutritional information, making it easier to make informed choices.

Listen to Your Body

Finally, one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy diet while dining out is listening to your body. Pay attention to how different foods make you feel and adjust accordingly. Here are some tips for listening to your body while dining out:

Stop when you feel full

It’s easy to keep eating when the food tastes good, but it’s essential to stop when you feel full. Overeating can lead to discomfort and bloating and can sabotage your efforts to maintain a healthy diet.

Take breaks while eating

Eating slowly and taking breaks in between bites can help you tune into your body’s signals and prevent overeating. Put your utensils down between bites and take sips of water to slow down your eating pace.

Be mindful of how food makes you feel

Certain foods may make you feel sluggish, bloated, or uncomfortable. Pay attention to these signals and avoid those foods in the future. Instead, opt for dishes that leave you feeling energized and satisfied.

Stay Active

Maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial for overall health and well-being. While dining out, it’s important to stay active and incorporate movement into your day. Here are some tips for staying active while dining out:

Take a walk after your meal

After finishing your meal, take a leisurely walk around the area. This will not only aid digestion but also help you burn some extra calories.

Choose active outings

Instead of always going out to eat, try planning active outings with friends and family. Go for a hike, visit a museum, or try a new fitness class together.

Incorporate movement throughout your day

Even if you have a busy schedule, it’s essential to find ways to incorporate movement throughout your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk during your lunch break, or do some light stretches at your desk.


Dining out doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your healthy eating goals. By making conscious choices about what you eat, practicing portion control, staying hydrated, being mindful of ingredients, limiting alcohol consumption, and listening to your body, you can enjoy dining out while still maintaining a healthy diet. With some planning and mindfulness, you can still indulge in delicious meals while keeping your health in check.


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