Eating Out

Eating well at home can be done by planning meals in advance, making a list before you shop, setting aside time to cook, and having healthy snacks on hand. Making healthy choices in restaurants is not always as easy, but by following some of the same principles it can be done.

Plan in advance. Choose restaurants that you know offer healthy choices. Ask restaurants for nutrition information when you arrive or visit their website before you go and use the information to compare different choices.

Look at the bigger nutrient picture. To make a healthy overall choice look for dishes that are lower in fat, sodium and sugar, and also include lots of vegetables and fruit and whole grains.

Undress your meal. Sauces and gravies can be high in both sodium and fat. Either ask to skip them altogether or request them on the side so you can control how much you put on.

Make substitutions. Order your meat, poultry or fish baked, broiled, poached or grilled with no salt or other seasonings that contain salt. Ask for lemon slices, fresh pepper or extra herbs and spices to add flavour. You can also ask for your vegetables steamed with no added salt.

Identify hidden sources. Be familiar with words that indicate a high sodium content such as: marinated, pickled, smoked, breaded, brined, au jus, teriyaki or in broth.

The extras count. Beware of condiments such as ketchup, relish, soy sauce, and dressing which can be high in sodium and fat. Ask for them on the side.

Pass on the salt shaker. Don’t add any salt at the table. And ask your server if your meal can be provided with no extra salt added in the kitchen.

Divide and conquer. Portion sizes in restaurants are often large, so share or take half of your meal home.

Watch what you drink. Use milk instead of cream in your coffee. Drink water, lower-fat milk or 100% fruit juice.

Check for Health Check. Restaurants that are part of the Health Check program offer menu items that meet the specific nutrient criteria developed by the Foundation’s registered dietitians. Menu items must provide standard portion sizes and provide adequate amounts of protein, and vegetables and fruit (for large entrees), and limited amounts of fat and sodium. The menu items that meet these specific criteria are easily identified on the menu with the Health Check logo.

Articles of Interest

Restaurant Menu Items Finder