Eating Out!

Around the holiday season people tend to get together on dates, family outings, reunions, and so many more. So undoubtedly the first suggestion is to go out to eat or grab a coffee. For example, for the 9 days that I have been home I have eaten at the following places: Pei Wei, Chili’s, La Madeline, Babe’s, Papa Murphy’s, Texas Land and Cattle, and Macaroni Grill. Every menu has healthful options and choosing the items that fit my eating habits have become a habit. Going out to eat does pose a challenge at times but there are so many options you have on any menu that you can still “have your cake and eat it too”. So here are some tips you could try starting tonight!

Saint Louis University dietetic internship menu labeling

Order water. Studies have proven time and time again that people who consume a glass of water before their meals are more likely to consume less calories than those who do not – so drink up.

Look before you go. Almost all restaurants now have nutrition labels either on the menu or on their website. The current trend in menu design is to have a section for lighter options which can also help consumers with healthful choices.

Ask for substitutions. If you aren’t wanting a grain or starchy veggie see if you can sub it for another nutrient dense side like broccoli, green beans, carrots, things like that. Also if pick a menu item that offers a non-specified side dish try going with the more healthful choice.

Ask for dressing/sauces on the side. Dressings and sauces can be the downfall of dishes. With salads ask for you dressing on the side and dip your fork in the dressing then load up your fork. With sauces try not scooping but dipping and shaking a little off.

Ask about preparation techniques. If your fish or chicken comes fried ask if you can have it charred, grilled, or pan seared instead.

Split a plate. This is might not always work out – but if it does you both controlled the calories on the plate better and now have a budget friendly check.

Ask for the to-go box. This is what I like to call “portion distortion”. Are the plates at restaurants as big as yours at home, and would you normally serve yourself that much? (Just something to think about.) This technique works wonders and is probably my favorite! When your food comes, ask the waiter for a to-go box and put half in the box so you have the pleasure of finishing your plate and knowing you have leftovers for the next day. Very budget friendly!

All things in moderation…including moderation. All foods can be found on a balanced diet. So if you are going out and its time for a cheat day….no one says it better than Marie Antoinette, “let them eat cake!” (I understand this is out of context – but I’m hoping you get the point!)

Fast Food Frenzy. So you might not have the time to sit down and eat and follow these tips. But you can still apply them to a drive-thru menu. Think about things like which restaurant you pulled up to, calories, protein value, can you substitute, and drink choice. If you did plan ahead to order at a particular fast food place have your top 5 restaurants already researched with acceptable foods that fit your health goals from the menus posted online.


In health,



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