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Healthy Eating Out

Baked potato Healthy Eating Out

You do not have to give up eating out to cut down on fat, cholesterol, and salt. You just need to think about what you order.

Many menus highlight low fat and low sodium dishes. But if you cannot find what you want, ask. Explain to the waiter or waitress what you need. Or ask to see printed nutrition information.

Following are some tips for ordering healthy meals.

Asking for What You Want

  • Ask that foods be prepared in little or no fat and with no added salt.
  • Ask that sauces be left off or served on the side. Choose sauces with a tomato base instead of cream or cheese sauce. Then eat only a little.
  • Ask for a baked or boiled potato or steamed rice, without butter.
  • Ask that vegetables be steamed and served with no butter or sauce. Ask for lemon juice or vinegar to sprinkle on them for flavor.

Keep These Tips in Mind

Minestrone Soup

  • Choose minestrone or vegetable soups. Ask about sodium.
  • Order salad dressing on the side. Dip your fork into the dressing, then in the salad.
  • Look for fish, chicken, turkey, or meat that is broiled, roasted, poached, or steamed.
  • Try ordering 1 or 2 appetizers or soup and a salad instead of a main dish. Or eat only half of the main dish and take the rest home.

Salad Bars and Buffets

Salad bowl

Some healthier choices include:

  • Lettuce, plain fresh vegetables, beans, fruit and flavored gelatin
  • Low fat or fat free salad dressing, or vinegar and a little oil
  • Whole wheat bread or bread sticks
  • Roast chicken or turkey breast
  • Steamed vegetables without butter or sauce
  • Pasta or bean salads made with oil and vinegar dressing

Fast Foods

Burger and fries Try these healthier orders.

  • Broiled, roasted, or grilled chicken sandwich without mayonnaise, dressing or sauce
  • Chicken or whole bean burrito or soft taco, without cheese, sour cream, or guacamole
  • Garden salad with light or fat free dressing
  • Baked potato with chives
  • Mashed potatoes without gravy

Interview Yourself

When the vending machine or other tempting delights come calling, ask yourself if you are truly hungry or simply eating out of habit. If you are really hungry, address that issue with a nutritious option. If you are stressed, bored or angry, however, find a way to deal with those emotions without involving food.


Mexican Meal Make these healthier choices:

  • Chicken tostada or enchilada with whole beans and no cheese, guacamole, or sour cream unless light or better yet, non-fat sour cream.
  • Chicken tamale
  • Burrito with black beans and chicken
  • Whole beans and rice
  • Steamed tortillas without butter or salt
  • Rice with chicken (arroz con pollo)
  • Chicken or fish fajita


Smarter choices include: Spaghetti Meal

  • Minestrone soup
  • Pasta with tomato sauce or sauteed vegetables (pasta primavera)
  • Fish stew (cioppino)
  • Chicken cacciatore
  • Ravioli or tortellini in tomato sauce
  • Risotto (rice) with vegetables
  • Pizza with vegetable toppings and little or no cheese

What Can You Order?

Here are some more ideas. Kebab

  1. Grilled chicken and vegetable kabobs
  2. Broiled or grilled fish
  3. Corn on the cob
  4. Low sodium vegetable or bean soup
  5. Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with cranberry sauce or mustard
  6. Steamed vegetables over rice or noodles
  7. Steamed shellfish in wine or tomato sauce
  8. Chicken or whole bean burrito or tostada
  9. Chicken tandoori

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