Eating out can be a nice treat once in a while or a convenient option when you don’t have time to cook a meal. But the fat, calories, sugar and sodium can add up quickly if you eat out regularly. Use these tips to make healthy choices the next time you eat out.
Choosing healthier foods when eating out
Managing your portions
- Keep it small. Portion sizes at fast food counters and restaurants are usually bigger than what you would normally eat at home. Ask for half portions, share a large meal with a friend, or pack up part of your meal to take home.
- Limit cakes, cookies, and rich desserts. Get a smaller size or share with someone.
- Avoid super-sizing. Super-sized meal combinations might seem like a good deal, but they’re often high fat, calories, sugar and/or sodium.
- Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets.
- Take home half your meal and keep leftovers in the fridge for the next day.
Making healthier choices
- Ask for more vegetables. For more fibre, ask for extra veggie toppings on wraps, burgers, pizzas and sandwiches. Order sides of leafy green salad or cooked vegetables. Substitute your fries with vegetables.
- Order healthier salads. Dark green salads are usually healthier for you than higher fat Caesar, taco, potato, or pasta salads.
- Choose whole grains. Order sandwiches, subs, or wraps with whole grain bread, buns, or tortillas. Choose one spread instead of two (for example, mayonnaise or margarine, not both).
- Keep sodium in check. Choose fewer foods that have been smoked or made with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. Look for “light” versions of these sauces and ask for them to be served on the side.
- Ask for sauce and dressing “on the side.” Ask for gravy, sauce, and salad dressing on the side and use a small amount.
- Drink smart. Choose water, milk (skim, 1%, or 2%), fortified soy beverage, or 100% juice instead of soft drinks or sweetened beverages.
- Ask how food is prepared. Order foods that have been steamed, baked, broiled, grilled, or roasted. Fat and calories add up quickly when food is fried, deep-fried or breaded.
- Look ahead. Ask for the nutrition information or visit the restaurant’s website ahead of time. Look for healthier options that are higher in protein, fibre and vitamins and lower in calories, fat, sugar and sodium.
Eating out with kids
Eating healthy when you’re dining out can be easy for everyone–even kids. Encourage children to:
- Choose a meal that includes foods from the four food groups.
- Skip the kids’ menu and order a healthy entrée from the regular menu.
- Order fresh fruit for dessert, or a small salad or veggies and dip as an appetizer.