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Published on April 07, 2022

5 Tips for Eating Out | Nutrition Bites With Kate Watts

5 Tips for Eating Out | Nutrition Bites With Kate Watts

In this episode of Nutrition Bites, Kate Watts, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES, registered dietitian nutritionist, shares 5 tips for making healthier choices when eating out.

#1 Choose Where You're Eating Out Wisely

Thinking about where you're going to eat will set you up for success. Find a restaurant that has healthier items on the menu. Then look for items that will help you get a serving of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (like grilled or roasted meats) and whole grains.

#2 Look at the Menu Online Ahead of Time

Whether you're going through the drive-through, ordering takeout or going to sit down and eat inside of a restaurant, take some time to look at the menu online ahead of time. Doing this will help you have a plan so that when it's time to order, you don't feel pressured to make a decision quickly. Use online menus to identify a couple of healthy options that help you get a serving of all the food groups. Some restaurants even have nutrition facts listed on online! 

#3 Manage Your Appetite and Don't Go Hungry

Avoid going out to eat when you're feeling famished! When we're really hungry, we tend to order larger portions and eat more quickly -- so it's easy to overeat. Additionally, restaurant portions are usually much larger than the amount of food we actually need to nourish our bodies. By avoiding eating out when you're extra hungry, you can more easily stick with healthy portion sizes.

#4 Eat Mindfully

Take time to slow down, enjoy your food and eat mindfully. If you're getting takeout or going through the drive-through, avoid eating in the car or in front of the TV when you get home. Instead, sit down at a table so that you can focus on eating. Take the food out of the to-go containers and put it on a plate to make a more pleasant eating experience. 

If you're eating at a restaurant, set your silverware down and drink some of your beverage between bites. This will help you savor your food and eat slowly enough so that you can stop when you're at a comfortable level of fullness.

#5 Splurge and Balance

Sometimes when we eat out, there's a certain food item that we're really looking forward to enjoying that may not be very healthy. If that's the case, try splurge and balance!

The idea of splurge and balance is to enjoy your splurge item, but then to balance it out with other healthier food options. For example -- if you're really looking forward to having that fried chicken sandwich, go for a healthy beverage like water or unsweet tea, and a healthy side like a salad! Another way to balance things out is to share food items with others, so that you can get a taste of that splurge item without it being your full meal.

About the Expert

Kate Watts, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES, is a registered dietitian nutritionist with LiveLifeWell, Cone Health's employee wellness team.