5 Easy Ways to Eat Healthy at Restaurants

Eating out is a part of life, but it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that with eating out often comes larger portions, added salt and sugar, and extra added ingredients that we aren’t always aware of. Ouch. Fear not, with a few simple tricks, you can make eating out a restaurants a whole lot healthier. 

Choose whole grains

Go for brown rice over white rice, or whole wheat toast instead of white. This increases the fiber content of your meal, and provides you with nutrients that the more processed grain foods likely won’t have.

Save half for later

Ask for half of your meal to be set aside in a to-go box before it even gets to the table. If you’re eating take out, put half the food away before you start eating. Serving sizes have grown consistently bigger over the years, so you may be completely content with the amount of food that half a portion provides. If you’re still hungry, you have the rest of the plate to enjoy later.

Have a salad first

Order a salad with dressing on the side, and finish it before you start on the main dish. This way, you’ll be sure to get in a serving or two of veggies with your meal. Favor vinaigrette or oil and vinegar to dress your salad over creamy dressings.

Practice mindful eating

This is a good tool for anytime you eat – consider your hunger level on a scale of 1 (ravenous) to 10 (Thanksgiving-style full) before the meal, and then concentrate on your food as you eat it. Consider the smell, appearance, texture, and taste of each bite, and savor the food. Being slow and methodical like this allows you to notice when the food no longer tastes as good, which is often a signal that you’re starting to get full. Consider your hunger scale once again, and when you get to a comfortable fullness (about a 6 or 7), set down your fork and save the rest for another meal. Want to know more about mindful eating? Check out our guide.


Build your Brook Healthy Plate

Using the Brook Healthy Plate method ensures your meal is well-balanced. While dining, ask yourself: am I getting half a plate of low-carb veggies, one-fourth of a plate of protein and the last fourth of starchy veggies or grains? If your meal doesn’t match the Brook Healthy Plate, package up the the difference and use your leftovers to make another balanced meal later by adding ingredients from home.

We hope these ideas are helpful and make it easier to stick to your nutrition goals when you are eating out or getting your food to-go.  Need more ideas? Chat with us in the Brook app!

Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN​

on January 11, 2021. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Health Coaches.