Healthy Restaurant Dinning Tips

  • Healthy preparations to choose include baked, broiled, boiled, steamed, poached, roasted, grilled or stir-fried foods.
  • Stay clear of dishes that are battered, breaded, creamed, crispy or fried. These are code words for high fat.
  • The following terms describe dishes that usually contain high amount of calories and fat: Au Gratin, Bolognese, Hollandaise and Scalloped.
  • Ask how the food is prepared. Be assertive if the food you ordered is served the wrong way. Don’t be afraid to speak up and send it back.
  • Get it your way! Ask if substitutions are possible. Generally, restaurants are health conscious and accommodating. For example, ask for fruit salad or a house salad instead of fries or chips.
  • Request sauces and salad dressing on the side. This way you can control how much you use.
  • Ask to go light on the cheese when ordering omelets, sandwiches, pizza or burritos.
  • Ask the waiter to remove the bread basket, chips or other goodies on the table if they are trigger foods for you.
  • Practice portion control. If you are at a restaurant with large portion sizes, consider sharing an entrée, or take half home or just leave some food left over.
  • If you’re at a restaurant that has large portions, consider ordering a salad to start and then an appetizer as your main course.
  • Avoid salads with dressing already added such as tuna salad or potato salad made with mayonnaise.
  • If available, choose low-calorie dressing or use balsamic vinegar.
  • Choose broth based soups like chicken noodle, vegetable, lentil and bean soup.
  • Avoid soups with the following words in their name chowder, bisque and cream.
  • Fill up on salads and vegetables. Limit added oil and dressings and ask for vegetables steamed or grilled.
  • Remove visible fat from red meats and the skin from chicken.
  • Ask the waiter to remove your plate when you are finished so you are not tempted to eat the leftover food.
  • Ask for fresh fruit, sorbet or a skim cappuccino for dessert.
  • If tempted to have a high-fat dessert, take a few bites and share. This helps you to reduce the total amount of calories.
  • If everybody else is ordering dessert, order a cup of coffee or tea to keep you busy.
  • Eat slowly and savor your food. Put your fork down in between bites. Enjoy the company along with your food.
  • Learn from your dining experience. Ask yourself if this restaurant is worth coming back to? Does it allow you to keep on track with your new healthy eating lifestyle?

Healthy Dining Out by Cuisine

ITALIAN FOOD QUICK TIPS : Skip the bread basket; beware of portion sizes of pasta dishes

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Plain bread
  •  Plain breadsticks
  • Salads with dressing on the side
  • Lentil or minestrone soup
  • Baked clams
  • Fresh seafood
  • Pasta with red, clam or wine sauce
  • Pasta primavera
  • Biscotti
  • Skim milk cappuccino
  • Garlic bread
  • Fried calamari
  • Shrimp scampi
  • Cheese cannelloni with meat sauce
  • Spaghetti with meatballs
  • Fettuccini Alfredo
  • Chicken or eggplant parmesan
  • Cream or white sauces
  • Pastries, cannelloni and tiramisu
FRENCH FOOD QUICK TIPS : French food is known for containing lots of cheese, cream and butter; ask how food is prepared and request sauces on the side

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • French bread
  • Mussels
  • Bouillabaisse (seafood stew)
  • Coq au vin (chicken stewed in wine)
  • Salad Nicoise, with the dressing on the side
  • Ratatouille
  • Pot au feu
  • Quenelles (steamed fish dumplings)
  • Mixed berries
  • Sorbet
  • Croissant
  • French onion soup
  • En croute (wrapped in pastry)
  • Potatoes au gratin
  • Beef Bourguignon
  • Foie gras
  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Chicken cordon bleu
  • Hollandaise, Bernaisse and Bechamel sauces
  • Buerre blanc (butter sauce)
  • Chocolate mousse
GREEK FOOD QUICK TIPS : This cuisine is noted for using healthy monounsaturated fats but portion sizes still matter

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Pita bread
  • Hummus
  • Olives
  • Yogurt and cucumber salad
  • Greek salad without the dressing
  • Baba ghanoush
  • Dolma (stuffed grape leaves)
  • Souvlaki sandwich
  • White meat chicken and fish kabobs
  • Saganaki (cheese appetizer)
  • Moussaka
  • Falafel in pita
  • Pastitsio
  • Gyro
STEAK HOUSE QUICK TIPS: Practice portion control, start off with a shrimp cocktail or oyster appetizer; skip high-fat side dishes like mashed potato and creamed spinach; consider ordering fish even though you are at a steak restaurant

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Cooked oyster
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Salad with dressing on the side
  • Steak, lean cuts like round or loin with trimmed visible fat
  • Steamed vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus or spinach
  • Baked potato, no butter
  • Bread with butter
  • Sour cream
  • Salad with a lot of dressing and cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Onion rings
  • Creamed spinach
  • Cheesecake
MEXICAN FOOD QUICK TIPS : Use salsas instead of high-fat salad dressings; skip the chips or limit to a portion of 10 chips; order food with only one high-fat topping such as cheese, sour cream or guacamole; fajitas are perfect to split

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Soft flour tortillas
  • Sangria
  • Gazpacho
  • Bean soups
  • Bean chili
  • Bean, chicken or seafood fajitas or burritos
  • Salsa
  • Beans and rice
  • Taco salad without the shell
  • Tortilla chips
  • Margarita
  • Nachos
  • Refried beans
  • Chorizo (sausage)
  • Chimichanga (fried burrito)
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Fried ice cream
CHINESE FOOD QUICK TIPS: Order dishes steamed with sauces on the side; make vegetables the predominate food on your plate; don’t be swayed by people wanting to share high calorie dishes with you; watch out for anything fried or crispy

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Clear soups
  • Hot and sour soup
  • Steamed vegetable, chicken or shrimp dumplings
  • Steamed brown rice
  • Stir fry or steamed chicken or seafood with vegetables
  • Mu Shu with no egg
  • Chinese vegetables with tofu
  • Fortune cookies
  • Fried rice or noodles
  • Fried dumplings
  • Egg rolls or spring rolls
  • Spare ribs
  • Fried dishes
  • Sweet and sour dishes
  • Egg foo Yung
JAPANESE FOOD QUICK TIPS: Generally Japanese food can be high in salt; ask for low sodium soy sauce and watch the amount you use; stay away from any items that have tempura in their description

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Edamame
  • Miso or Su-Udon soup
  • Sushi and sahimi
  • Mizutaki (simmered chicken & vegetables)
  • Tossed salad with miso dressing
  • Cucumber and seaweed salad
  • Steamed gyoza (shrimp dumplings)
  • Vegetarian yosenabe (noodles, seafood or vegetables in broth)
  • Chicken or fish teriyaki
  • Tempura (fried food in batter)
  • Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet)
  • Crispy fried noodles
THAI FOOD QUICK TIPS: Watch out for dishes with coconut or peanut or curry sauce; stick with white meat chicken, vegetables, tofu and stir fries with the sauce on the side

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Lime juice based salads
  • Spring rolls in rice paper
  • Broth based soups
  • Tom yum kung (hot-and-sour soup)
  • Steamed dumplings
  • Chicken satay
  • Steamed white rice
  • Thai seafood salad
  • Thai chicken with basil
  • Mussaman beef curry
  • Thai coconut rice
  • Pad thai
  • Thai beef salad
  • Thai coffee or tea
INDIAN FOOD QUICK TIPS: Some terms to learn:  Jhinga or paneer tikka (grilled dishes), Malai (means cream), Makhani (made in butter), and Naan (high-fat and made with white flour)

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Chapati or puri bread
  • House salad
  • Chicken tikka
  • Tandoori shrimp
  • Tandoori chicken without skin
  • Whole wheat tandoori roti (without butter)
  • Bean and lentil stew (dal maharani)
  • Yogurt salad or raita
  • Green chutney
  • Roasted papade instead of fried papade
  • Masala chai
  • Nan bread
  • Samosa (fried vegetable or meat patties)
  • Lamb korma (spicy curry)
  • Chicken curry
  • Vegetable fritters
  • Lamb biryani
  • Kulfi-faluda or gula jamun (sweet, cream filled dessert)
PIZZERIA QUICK TIPS: Ask the pizza maker to go light on the cheese and heavy on the vegetables; fill up first with a side salad with the dressing on the side; choose thin crust pizzas over thick crust pizzas

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Healthy pizza toppings such as part-skim cheese, feta cheese, vegetables, olives, pineapple or grilled chicken
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Oregano, basil or garlic
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Pizza toppings such as extra cheese, several types of cheese, bacon, sausage or pepperoni
  • Deep dish pizza and Sicilian pizza
  • Breadsticks with butter and garlic bread
SANDWICHES AND SUBS QUICL TIPS: Ask the sandwich or sub maker to go light on the meat and heavy on lettuce, onions, tomatoes and peppers; healthier condiments include mustard, ketchup and vinegar; skip the mayo

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Turkey breast, smoked turkey, chicken breast, ham or roast beef
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Healthy broth based vegetable and grain soups
  • Half or small size sandwiches
  • Scoop the middle out of a big roll or sub
  • Salads with light or fat-free dressing
  • Baked chips or pretzels
  • Fruit salad
  • Tuna, chicken or egg salads with a lot of mayo
  • Pastrami and corn beef
  • Russian dressing
  • Coleslaw, potato and macaroni salads
  • Pasta salad with oil or cream sauce
  • Potato and tortilla chips
DINER FOOD QUICK TIPS: Keep in mind almost anything can be ordered at a diner all day and prepared the way you like it; don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Egg white vegetable omelet
  • Chef’s and Greek salad, without dressing
  • Grilled chicken salads
  • Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Fruit salad with cottage cheese
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Turkey and veggie burgers
  • Baked or grilled fish and chicken
  • Baked potatoes
  • Cheese omelet
  • BLT (bacon, lettuce & tomato) sandwich
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Hamburger on bun and French fries
  • Ham and cheese sandwich, grilled
  • Tuna, egg and chicken salad
  • Rice pudding, pies, cakes, muffins and danishes
BUFFET FOOD QUICK TIPS: Don’t go to a buffet with an empty stomach; you don’t need to eat your money’s worth and leave feeling stuffed; take only small amounts of high calorie foods; consider ordering a la carte

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Fill your plate with healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, lightly dressed salads, turkey breast or shrimp cocktail
  • Salads drenched in dressing, salads prepared with lots of mayonnaise, dishes prepared with lots of cheese, pasta dishes made with lots of oil and cream sauces, muffins, pastries and desserts
HIGH TEA QUICK TIPS: Have a small lunch a few hours before your high tea date; this will keep you from being starved and setting yourself up for eating too many goodies; strategize and pick your food mindfully; plan to sip more tea than filling up on sweets; remember dinner is only a few hours away

Healthy choices Foods to avoid
  • Cucumber, smoked salmon, vegetarian , chicken, tuna or ham sandwiches
  • Fruit and berries
  • Bite size cookies
  • Bite size pieces of cake
  • Mini fruit tarts
  • Jam
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Lemon curd
  • Large sized scones or other pastries