Eating out nutritiously may seem impossible, but with careful planning it can be done. By planning ahead and ordering with care, you can keep to your healthy diet and enjoy a good meal.

Planning should begin before you even get to the restaurant. Take a few moments to check the restaurant's website and online menu, if available. It's easier to choose a nutritious, low-fat meal when you're by yourself, rather than at the restaurant when all your friends are ordering the spaghetti carbonara.

There are several important things to consider when ordering your meal:

  • If you're watching calories, skip the (usually fat-laden) appetizers and order water instead of wine or a soft drink. If you want an appetizer, a small salad with dressing on the side, a broth-based soup (such as chicken noodle), or a fruit cup are nutritious choices.
  • When choosing your entree, look for the words broiled, grilled, and roasted; these will usually be lower in fat than fried entrees.
  • When ordering pasta, choose tomato-based rather than cream-based sauces.
  • If entrees are large, split one with your dinner partner or take a portion home to reheat later.
  • Choose healthy side-dishes such as steamed vegetables (hold the butter), plain rice, or a baked potato topped with vegetables or salsa.
  • If you choose to have dessert, split it with at least one other person.

You needn't deny yourself everything in your pursuit of a healthy diet. The most important word to remember when eating out is moderation.

Marlene Veloso