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How To Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out

First off, it’s important to eat the foods that you enjoy but it’s also important you know How To Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out!

Balance and mindfulness are key parts of healthy eating. Here are some tips on how to make healthy choices when eating out. 

Indulging however, doesn’t mean going overboard and feeling crappy the next day. I’m not saying don’t ever get the fries or milkshake but if you eat out often or you have stomach issues, fatigue or remorse the next day, it can add up and impact your health goals. There are strategies and ways to be mindful to prevent these situations.

As a dietitian, it’s important for me to meet you where you are at. It’s not always realistic for everyone to pack a lunch, pick the healthy restaurants every time or give up some of the junky meals. I know I like to enjoy a milkshake, glass of wine and fried food every once in awhile.

So here are a few tips and ideas for when dining out!


Healthy Choices When Eating Out Tips:

1. Check the menu out before your go

-Download CalorieKing, MyFitnessPal, or check out the restaurant’s website. Have an idea of what you want and if there are ways to make it more aligned with your health goals, go for it!

2. Swap sides or sauces out

-Ask about veggie substitute sides and order sauces/dressings on the side so you can have control over the amount. I do the “dip your fork” method in sauces and dressing providing just as much flavor without the drenching.

3. Ask the server about your options

-In the words of BK, “Have It Your Way”. Don’t hesitate to ask for accommodations or substitutes. Servers are usually more than happy to make it happen. For example, I ask for extra veggies as sides, or have the restaurant add veggies to omelets, sandwiches, pasta dishes, etc.

4. Control portion sizes

-Have them bring your to-go box early, share a meal, order smaller option or kid’s size. As we know, most meals are way too large for one serving, having them box up 1/2 to begin with gets your an extra meal without the temptation to pick at it and mindlessly eat it all.

5. Skip the not-so healthy things, that aren’t important to you

-Drinks, desserts, heavy sides, appetizers or sauces can add up quick. If you choose a fried appetizer try making a compromise elsewhere like skipping dessert. Choose what’s more important and satisfies your craving!

6. Slow Down

-Chew your food, drink water, socialize, be mindful. It’s easy when the food is so good to forget to put your fork down and give your stomach a break to digest. Take your time when dining out.

7. Order first! Or take the lead when choosing where to eat

-Don’t let other people’s order impact your decision. You may have different health goals and preferences! Select a place that has healthier options you enjoy if you are concerned about making better choices.

Live in Northern Colorado? Here are some of my healthy options in Greeley, Colorado!

Read: Greeley Healthyish Eating Out Options

Healthy Choices at Chain Restaurants  


Burrito or Fajita Bowls skip the tortilla or rice and sub with beans (complex carb, more fiber and protein)

Salads (light on high calorie toppings like sour cream, cheese, sauces)

Tacos (light on high calorie toppings)


Berry Burst Salad (dressing on the side or 1/2)

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad (dressing on the side or 1/2)

Grilled Chicken Wrap

Small Chili, Garden Salad, Apple Slices

Plain Baked Potato with Small Chili

Grilled Chicken Wrap


Anything from the Fresh Fit Menu

Any Salad with Lean Protein (dressing on the sides, light on high calorie toppings)

6-Inch Subs with Veggies and Lean Protein (skip the chips, cookies and soda)


Egg Cheese Muffin

Grilled Nuggets with Apple Slices or Superfood Salad

Grilled Market Salad

Chicken Noodle Soup with Apple Slices or Superfood Salad

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Egg White Grill

Greek Yogurt Parfait


Thin crust, load up on veggies, add a lean protein topping like shredded chicken or ground meat (sausage and pepperoni don’t count) and pair with a salad

Jimmy Johns


½ Sandwiches (skip the chips, cookies and soda)


Grilled Chicken with Green Beans

KFC Famous Bowl Snack Size with Side Salad


Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad (dressing on the side)

Single Hamburger

Grilled Ranch Snack Wrap


Grilled Chicken Salad, Wrap, Sandwich (skip the fries, soda)

Burger King

Single Hamburger with Garden Side Salad

BK Veggie Burger or 6 Chicken Nuggets on Salad

Tender Chicken Garden Salad

Panda Express

Load up on steamed veggies, a lean protein and less rice/chow-mein

Broccoli Chicken, Beef Broccoli, Chicken Teriyaki with Veggies

Buffalo Wild Wings

Snack Size of the Traditional Wings and Load Up on Carrots and Celery

Naked Tenders with Veggie Sticks

Grilled Chicken Wrap with Tomato Cucumber Salad or Garden Salad

Carl’s Jr.

Lettuce Wrap Burger or Grilled Chicken

Single Burger or Grilled Chicken Burger


Guiltless Grill Menu


Soups- Broth Based, Veggies, Lean Protein

Avocado, Egg White and Spinach Sandwich

Salads (dressing on side, light on high calorie toppings)

½ Sandwiches, Load up on Veggies and Lean Protein


Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

Egg Bites

Spinach Egg White Wrap

Protein Boxes


Taco Bell

Fresco Style Crunchy Tacos

Grilled Chicken Salad


Fitfare Menu

Loaded Veggie Omelet


Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad

Classic Roast Beef Sandwich


Light Fare Menu

Cracker Barrel

Chicken, Crusted Fish with Veggies on the Side

Grilled Chicken Salads

Egg Whites and Veggies with Fruit

Scrambled Eggs with Yogurt or Small Oatmeal or Slice of Whole Grain Toast

Five Guys

Burger Load Up on Veggie Toppings

Golden Corral

Load the Plate up with Veggies (think about what food options are important, don’t waste calories on foods that aren’t great)

Search for leaner cuts of meat

Prioritize which carb sides are important

Olive Garden

Light Menu

Grilled Salmon with Veggies

Order a Side or Kids Serving of Pasta, Add Veggies and Lean Protein

Outback/Texas Roadhouse

Lean 6oz Steak, Chicken or Grilled Shrimp with Veggies and Plain Sweet Potato

P.F Changs

Buddha Feast

Half these entrees:

Asian Grilled Salmon or Steamed Salmon

Lemon Chicken or Scallops

Chang’s Spicy Chicken

Orange Peel Beef

Hong Kong Beef

Red Lobster

Lighterfare Menu

Half Order of your Favorite Seafood, Broiled with a Veggie Side

Red Robin

Salads (dressing on side)

Lettuce Wrap or Open Faced Burger (change out sides, light on sauces/cheese/toppings)

Tokyo Joe’s

Bowls/Boxes: Lean Protein, Veggies, Light on Carb (rice/noodles)

Salads (dressing on side)

½ Sushi Rolls

These aren’t all the healthy choices when eating out or the only places you should go, just some of my top favorites to spark ideas!


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