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🥦  Nutrition

Written by Sarah Louise • Updated July 20, 2021

12 tips for eating healthy at restaurants

Eating out is often considered a negative thing if you're on a fat loss journey, but it doesn't have to be. While there might be plenty of unhealthy choices you can make, there's definitely just as many good choices you can make if you learn what to look out for.

Follow these easy 12 tips for how to eat healthy at restaurants to see how eating out healthy is possible, delicious and won't ruin your progress!

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#1 Look up the menu beforehand

You and your friends are likely weighing out a few options as to where you should go out to eat. Look up the menu the different restaurants offer beforehand and make sure there are meals that align with your fitness goals. If not, simply suggest a different restaurant.

#2 Scan the menu

Look for keywords on the menu that are giveaways for what to avoid if you're trying to avoid unnecessary calories.  Here are some examples of the most common culprits:

  • Pan-fried

  • Crispy

  • Dipped

  • Breaded

  • Cream

  • Alfredo


These certainly make the meals very tasty, but will also pack in extra calories. Instead go for these key words:

  • Grilled

  • Steamed

  • baked

  • Roasted

  • Braises

  • Broiled

  • Seared

#3 Modify your meals

Have a look at the different ingredients in each dish instead of just assuming the salad is the healthiest option - they can secretly be quite calorie dense if they're filled with healthy fats like cheese, avocado, nuts/seeds, hummus and dressing. If you notice that your salad has multiple of these fat sources, don't be afraid to ask for it without certain ingredients.

The same goes for any other dish other than salads; if it's a meal with a lot of rice or potatoes, you can ask for them to be swapped with veggies.

Remember, it's not that these ingredients are unhealthy or bad for you, but if you're trying to save calories these are some easy swaps we can do.

#4 Ask for dressing on the side

When you ask for dressing on the side, you're able to portion control it a lot more - you can choose to not add anything or just add a couple teaspoons.

Another little bonus tip is to ask that the dressing is a vinaigrette!

#5 Stick to 1-2 meals

Bread, starter, main AND a desert...?

You usually wouldn't eat that much in one go if you were at home, so it's not necessary either when you're eating out. Ideally, stick to just the main, but if not make a decision beforehand to limit it to 2 meals - either a starter and main or main and a desert.

#6 Protein and veg

Eating protein and fiber-rich veggies will help you feel full and satiated, so make sure the meal you go for includes both.

If you're vegan, some typical protein sources are lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu or tempeh. If you eat meat, opt for lean meats, white fish, or prawns.

These are typical dishes that don't include a lot of protein and veggies:

  • Risotto

  • Pasta dishes

  • Pizza

Once again, it's not that these foods are unhealthy or bad for you, but if you're trying to save calories and feel satiated it's better to opt for protein

#7 Have a light snack beforehand


Sometimes it can be hard to make the best decisions when we're super hungry. Other times it simply makes us order way too much food. Having a light snack that's high in protein and fiber can help you curb the worst hunger ... especially if you're going to a buffet 😉

#8 Avoid buffets


Even though an all-you-can-eat buffet sounds like a dream and is often cheaper for the amount of food you get .. we also need to remember that it can be difficult to stop after just 1 portion.

Need I say more? 😆

#9 Ask for boiled or steamed


An easy way to save calories from oil or butter is to ask for veggies and potatoes to be boiled or steamed. When placing your order, ask the waiter how these ingredients are cooked and if you can have it boiled/steam instead. 

#10 Share the desert


It's no secret that saying 'no thank you' to desert will save you calories, but if you don't want to cut it out completely, ask to share it with the person you are eating with.

Otherwise select a healthier desert option like fruit or sorbet

#11 Limit the fancy drinks


If you must order an alcoholic drink, try to avoid margaritas, piña coladas, and other exotic mixed drinks. They include sugary add-ins that add tons of calories and processed sugars and flavours.


Instead, order a glass of wine, a light beer, a vodka and tonic, or a simple martini.  These options will be better for your healthy eating goals, especially if you choose not to drink that often.

#12 Opt for tomato-based sauces

Sauces are often made on a cream-base or tomato-base - typically in pasta dashes or indian dishes. Opting for a dish that is tomato-based will save you a lot of calories and also add a lot of extra fiber and vitamins.

Look up the menu beforehand
Scan the menu
Modify your meas
Limit the fancy drinks
Ask for dressing on the side
Stick to 1-2 meals
Protein and veg
Have a light snack beforehand
Opt for tomato-based sauces
Share the desert
Avoid buffets
Ask for boiled or steamed


While it can feel easy to just say no to dinner-invitations while you're on a diet, the healthiest & most sustainable way to live is to learn how to include everything in moderation. Eating out definitely won't ruin your progress. I hope this article helped you.

Sarah Louise

Personal trainer & founder of trainn

Personal trainer Sarah Louise, founder, trainn app, fitness app, workout app, build muscle, lose weight, free workout app, personalised workouts, personal trainer, personal trainer in your pocket

Hi, I'm Sarah Louise 👋🏼


I am one of the personal trainers on trainn, as well as the founder & creator of it all.

My aim is to take you on a personalised fitness journey to a body you love and a lifestyle you can maintain. Real advice. Real results.


After coaching thousands of clients for nearly a decade and gathering lots of experience, I have designed methods that are proven to make your results stick with you forever.

Take your fitness to the next level, regain confidence and create a consistent routine through personalised workouts, weekly goals, healthy habits & expert advice. All unique to you.

Start your fitness journey today

About the author

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