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Healthy eating-out tips

Photo of a girl ordering at a restaurant.

When you’re eating out, you want food that tastes good and doesn’t cost a lot. But also try to look for food that’s good for you and doesn’t cost you your health! Here are some tips that can help if you’re trying to keep your calories in a healthy range.

  • Watch out for “portion distortion.” Restaurants often serve very large amounts, and we get used to thinking that it’s okay to eat that much. For example, one serving of pasta is half a cup. But restaurants may pile your plate with eight times as much. Try to take home leftovers or share your meal with a friend. (Check out a portion distortion quiz.)
  • “Super” isn’t always better. A combo or jumbo meal may seem like a good deal. Often, though, you will eat less if you just pick the specific items you want from the menu.
  • Be smart about the buffet. “All-you-can-eat” isn’t a good idea. If you’re eating from a buffet, pick salads and vegetables first. Also, use the smallest plate possible.
  • Cut the fat. Ask for low-fat dressings, and ask for dressings on the side. Choose mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise. Get grilled, steamed, or broiled foods instead of fried. Try not to add extra butter to your meal. And try to skip the gravy and creamy sauces.
  • Vote for veggies. Try to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. When choosing pizza toppings, ask for peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, and other vegetables. For a lighter pizza, you can also ask for half the usual amount of cheese.
  • Get the whole grain. When you order a sandwich, ask for whole wheat bread. Order brown rice instead of white. You’ll get an extra dose of fiber, which is healthy and fills you up.
  • Sip smart. Order water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other low-calorie drinks.

Hungry for more ideas? Check out eating-out tips from ChooseMyPlate.gov.

 

Content last reviewed November 05, 2013
Page last updated December 23, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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