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The Secret Art of Eating Healthy at Restaurants

Dining out is a great way of socializing, be it with friends or family! However, it comes at a cost of high fat foods and loads of unnecessary carbs.


Finding healthy options while eating at a restaurant is one of the most difficult things! Yet not impossible!!!


Here are a few tips that can help you make healthy choices.

1. Check out the menu

You tend to make unhealthy choices when hungry. Hence, The best way to begin is by pre-planning!


Most of the restaurants these days display their menu online.

Check out their menu thoroughly. If you find any restaurant having too many fried items or high fat foods, move on to the next restaurant.

However, if you have not had the chance to pre-plan, go through the menu card at the restaurant and opt for healthier choices.

Avoid items with words like:

  • Fried

  • Pan-fried

  • Cream

  • Dipped

  • Stuffed

  • Alfredo

Such dishes may contain a lot of hidden salts and fats.

Find items with words like:

  • Steamed

  • Baked

  • Grilled

  • Roasted

  • Seared

2. Salad/ Roasted Papad before meals

Salads contain ample amounts of helathy fibres. Eating salad before your meals will help you remain full and avoid unnecessary cravings.

Keep the salad simple.

Swap the creamy dressings for simple oil and vinegar. Skip croutons and cheese.

You can also opt for a simple roasted masala papad to munch on.

3. Ask

Often lots of butter and salt goes into the preparation of foods to make them tastier. They make you happier but are not good for your health.

Hence, don't be reluctant to ask your server how your food will be prepared, and if possible, request for it to be prepared differently.

4. Water is the best beverage!

Having a glass of water before your meal helps to a great extent.

Drinking in between meals can help you slow down from eating too fast.

If plain water is too boring, opt for lemon/ mint water.

5. Try opting for two appetizers instead of main meal

Yes. This can help avoid indulging in creamy high fat curries, gravies, etc.

They can satiate your appetite for long.

Go for dry, grilled, roasted, steamed ones.

Ask for sauces and dips separately.

Avoid fried or bread appetizers.

6. Try to include lean protein in your meals

When eating meat, avoid indulging in red meat. Opt for white meat like Chicken or Fish. But again, do not go for any fried items and avoid the skin.

Chicken and fish contain proteins. They help you stay away from foods loaded in carbs and unhealthy fats.

Vegetarians can opt for low-fat cottage cheese, beans, lentils, plain greek yoghurt or Tofu.

7. Fresh Juices everytime

Rather than relishing on sweetened or carbonated drinks, make a healthier choice by opting for a fresh juice.

8. Eat Mindfully

Chew your food well. Taking time to chew helps to avoid unnecessary binging when you are hungry.

Give full attention to the eating process and savour the flavours of the meal.

9. Snacking before arriving

Having a healthy snack like yogurt, which is low-calorie and high protein, before leaving for the restaurant can keep you from over-eating. Moreover, it does not require any preparation. You can have it on-the-go.

10. Desserts- Share them!

Desserts are hard to avoid when eating at restaurants. The best option to avoid those extra calories is to share your dessert! This way you get to enjoy bites from your favourite dessert and satisfy your cravings as well.

If at all, sharing is not possible, opt for a bowl of fruits.

11. Buffets! - a smaller plate is the secret.

Eating the right amount of food at buffets can be challenging.

Use a smaller plate to control the portion sizes.

If you are left with a normal plate, try filling half of it with salads or vegetables.

12. Walk!

Plan a light activity after your dinner such as a light stroll. This will aid in digestion.


Here are some healthy items you can swap for the unhealthier ones at different restaurants:

Italian Restaurants

Start meals with salads consisting of vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, olives, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

If available, opt for whole grain pasta with red sauce or pesto.

Ask for extra veggies wherever possible.

Chinese Restaurants

Go for steamed or stir-fried foods, chicken, sea food and steamed rice.

Indian Restaurants

Try out the South Indian foods with spicy vegetable dishes.

Tandoori meats and plain dals make for good choices too.

Mexican Restaurants

Grilled items, lean proteins like chicken, fish or beans are healthier.

Request to swap tortilla for lettuce.


Start with salads. Opt thin crust/whole wheat crust pizzas with veggie toppings/ lean meat and less cheese. You can thank us later!

Asian Restaurants

Prefer brown rice/ steamed rice over fried rice. Again grilled items and lean proteins are the best choices.

Fast food

Baked chips instead of the typical french fries, Pitas, Frozen yogurts, grilled chicken would be great!


Indulging in your favourite foods at your favourite restaurants once in a while does not do any harm!

But if you happen to eat frequently at restaurants, the above tips will come in handy!

Another trick lies in controlling the portion sizes. Small portions of everything you like also help a great deal. And water! Yeah! Never forget this magical drink!

Take your step towards a healthy life today!


An article by -

Dt. Anju A. Founder & Senior Consultant

Nutri Care Diet Clinic

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