Restaurant Menu

5 Healthier Things to Look for on Any Restaurant Menu

Publish Date April 4, 2022
Author By Ashley Martinez, MFN, RD, LD, NASM-CPT

When you’re trying to make healthier choices, navigating a restaurant menu can be challenging. We know how difficult it is to make a selection when everything feels off-limits. Eating out – and doing so healthfully – shouldn’t feel restrictive. Next time you dine out, keep these 5 tips top of mind for a stress-free, tasty and healthy experience – exactly as it should be!

  1. Veggies: As a guiding tool, half of what you eat in any meal should come from fruits and/or vegetables. If that burger is calling your name, top it with as many veggies as you’d like, skip the fries and add a side salad instead. This allows you to balance that juicy burger with nutrient-dense ingredients.
  2. Shareable Plates: Shareable plate portions, a trend that continues to evolve from restaurant to restaurant, keeps serving sizes in-check. Restaurants are certainly using this as a way to redefine family-style, and many are using it as a way to give the customer a little bit of everything – and there’s nothing wrong with that! This not only creates an enjoyable dining experience for you, but it cuts down the total calories too. If shareable plates aren’t offered on the menu, splitting a meal with a friend can certainly serve the same purpose.
  3. Customizable Options: Working with the waiter or waitress to fully understand how certain items are prepared is also important in your selection process since most items are often cooked to order. If you’re focused on cutting calories, asking the chef to prepare your side of veggies with less oil can ultimately save you a couple hundred calories. Or, leaving the salt off can save you a couple hundred milligrams of sodium. The same principle applies to beverages since you may be able to cut additional calories by leaving out the sweetened syrups.
  4. Calories: Some restaurants openly list the caloric content of each meal on their menu. You may notice that because of additional sauces, oils or other additives, the calories on some of your favorite meals are higher than you’d expect. If the calories aren’t listed on the menu, ask your waiter or waitress if they have the information available somewhere.
  5. Intuitive Eating: You won’t find this one on the menu, but it’s the most important tip of them all: eat intuitively! Restaurants are notorious for cooking larger-than-necessary portions and restaurant goers are known for over-eating. Eating slowly and stopping when you’re full lets you enjoy the foods you want without the guilt associated with over-consumption. Pack up whatever you don’t finish at the restaurant to enjoy at home later.

Keeping these tips in mind, you’ll notice that all foods can fit into your happier, healthy lifestyle – and that’s truly the ultimate goal!

Explore more healthy living advice from our team of experts.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.