Healthy Tips for Eating Out

You don't have to give up eating out to cut down on fat, cholesterol, and salt. You just need to think about what you order. Many menus highlight low-fat and low-sodium dishes. But if you can't find what you want, ask. Explain what you need to the waiter or waitress. Or ask to see printed nutrition information.

Man and woman sitting in restaurant eating salads.

Ask for what you want

  • Ask that foods be prepared with little or no fat and with no added salt.

  • Ask that sauces be left off or served on the side. Choose sauces made with tomatoes or broth instead of butter, cream, or cheese.

  • Ask for steamed rice or a baked or boiled potato, without butter or sour cream.

  • Ask that vegetables be steamed and served with no butter or sauce. Ask for lemon juice or vinegar to sprinkle on them for flavor.

Keep these tips in mind

  • Choose minestrone or vegetable soups. Ask about sodium content.

  • Order salad dressing on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing, then in the salad.

  • Look for fish, chicken, turkey, or other meat that is broiled, roasted, poached, or steamed.

  • Order 1 or 2 low-fat appetizers or soup and a salad instead of a main dish. Or eat only half of the main dish and take the rest home.

  • If you want a dessert, try fresh fruit, nonfat yogurt, or sorbet. Or share a dessert.

Foods to pass up

  • Doughnuts, muffins, and pastries

  • Coconut, vegetables with butter, cream, or cheese sauce

  • Cream, whole milk, and powdered creamers

  • Bacon, liver, lunch meats, ground meat, and canned fish in oil

  • Sweets and foods made with butter, coconut or palm oil, or hydrogenated fats