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How to Eat Healthy When Eating Out

MUSC Health
March 15, 2019
Image of a man eating sushi

March is National Nutrition Month, which is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices. In honor of National Nutrition Month, we wanted to share one of our favorite resources from the Academy with all of you.

This is an area where many of us could use a little help—our top 10 tips are as follows:

1. Think ahead and plan where you will eat. Consider what meal options are available and look-up the nutrition facts ahead of time if available.
2. Hunger can drive you to eat too much bread before your meal arrives. Ask your server to skip the bread—out of sight, out of mind!
3. Think about your food choices for the entire day. If you’re planning a special restaurant meal in the evening, have a light breakfast and lunch.
4. At the sandwich shop, choose lean beef, ham, turkey or chicken on a whole grain wrap (instead of bread). Ask for mustard, salsa or another low-calorie spread, and don’t forget to load it with veggies for added fullness!
5. In place of fries or chips, choose a side salad or fruit.
6. When choosing an ethnic restaurant, go for the Chinese stir-fry (hold the rice) or a vegetable-stuffed pita or Mexican chicken fajitas (hold the sour cream and go light on the guacamole).
7. Eat your protein and produce first, like a baked meat and side salad—you likely won’t have room for that additional starch!
8. If eating pizza, go for the slice that’s loaded with veggie toppings. If you add a meat, choose a lean meat like ham, chicken or shrimp.
9. Pass on all-you-can-eat specials and buffets—you will never eat your money’s worth, and if you do, you will overeat!
10. Grabbing a meal at the supermarket deli? Select rotisserie chicken and salad in a bag—this is quick, easy and filling!

Remember it’s always easier to control your choices when you prepare your own meals. However, this doesn’t mean you have to avoid restaurant eating—you just have to be a “mindful eater” when eating out!

Amanda Peterson, RDN, LD & Molly Jones, RDN, LD
Amanda and Molly are the MUSC Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program Registered Dietitians. With 15+ years experience combined, they facilitate behavior change through nutrition counseling for weight loss and maintenance with children through adults.

Content adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (PDF).

About the Author

MUSC Health

Keywords: Nutrition, Wellness, Diet, Healthy Communities