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.
Take Half to Go
Ask for half of your meal to be set aside in a to-go box before it even gets to the table. 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 have it sent to you before your entree arrives. 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 ask for a to-go box to take the rest of the meal home.
Build your Brook Healthy Plate
Better yet – carry a print-out with you for easy reference. Need one? Just let us know in the Expert channel! 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, put the difference into a to-go box 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. If you have any questions about this or anything else health-related, the Brook Experts are available 7 days a week in the Brook app.
Chat soon 💬
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on January 13, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.