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Healthy Restaurant Dining

Eating at a restaurant is always a little daunting for anyone on a diet or trying to eat healthy.  In fact, many just avoid it altogether.  But you can make healthy choices at just about any restaurant and eating out allows for a nice change of pace.

Just because you are trying to eat healthy, doesn’t mean certain restaurants need to be off limits!  Here are some tips for healthy ordering at your favorites types of restaurants:


The first key to eating healthy at a Mexican restaurant is to avoid all of the fried tortilla options- yes that includes the abundance of free chips, as well as any hard tacos and of course, the chimichanga.  When it comes to tacos and burritos, always stick with soft shells and choose options filled with lots of veggies.  For protein, opt for grilled chicken, fish, or whole beans.  A taco salad can be a great option too, just make sure to forgo the large taco bowl!  And the killer at any Mexican restaurant is the abundance of cheese in everything- try ordering your items without cheese or with limited cheese to save lots of fat and calories!


Italian food, with its abundance of carbs, cheese, and butter can be a diet killer!  But there are still ways to make healthy choices.  Try packing as much veggies as you can into your meal, by ordering a salad first and also a meal that includes veggies, like a primavera pasta or a meat item with a large veggie serving on the side.  For protein, opt for grilled chicken, shrimp, or other fresh fish.  But beware of thick, buttery sauces such as alfredo, carbonara, and vodka!  Try sticking with the red sauces, like marinara, pomodoro, or arrabiata.  The same is true for pasta options- stick with the good sauces.  Also, nowadays many restaurants offer whole wheat pasta options- packed with fiber, this choice will fill you up quickly!

Burger Joints

Ah, the classic burger and fries- how do you make that healthier?  Well, for starters, you can focus on packing that burger with veggies- lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, all add nutrients while helping fill you up.  Also, try opting for the leanest burger option- consider a turkey patty or a veggie burger.  In addition, just about every burger place now offers a “bunless option” where you can have your burger lettuce wrapped instead- a great option to avoid all that unnecessary refined flour.  But if you want a bun, try to choose a whole wheat or whole grain option.  And don’t forget about condiments!  A lot of burger places will try and sneak in high calorie options like mayonnaise or ranch, but simple ketchup and mustard are always your best bets!  And, finally, the fries.  Well, we all know the scoop here- if you can talk yourself into something else- grilled veggies, baked potato, etc- you’ve made a healthy decision!


Sushi restaurants sound healthy to most people, but they can be a little sneaky from a calorie standpoint.  First of all, beware of how much rice you are eating!  Regular sushi rolls are filled with them- instead opt for sashimi to balance out all the unnecessary white rice.  Also, be sure to read the ingredients list- many special sushi rolls include things like cream cheese and mayonnaise which up the calorie count considerably.  Try to choose healthy fish options (like mackerel and salmon) and rolls or dishes that are filled with veggies.  And of course, soy sauce is a sodium nightmare- use sparingly!

There are a lot of ways to eat healthy when dining in a restaurant so no need to avoid them when you are watching what you eat.  Keep these tips in mind and remember you can make healthy choices anywhere, so get out there and enjoy eating out!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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