6 Healthy Eating Tips for How to Order in a Restaurant

Get 6 tips for how to eat healthy in a restaurant.

If you’ve been counting calories, the prospect of eating out might be a little scary. But with a few simple strategies, you can stay on track while eating out.

—Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., R.D., and Joyce Hendley

Watch: See our quick tips for eating out


Read the Whole Menu

1. Read the Whole Menu

Get a feel for what’s available and estimate the calories before you make a decision about what to order.


Be the First to Order

2. Be the First to Order

That way you won’t be tempted to go along when the rest of the gang orders more than you’d like to eat.


Consider ? La Carte

3. Consider à La Carte

Try getting a soup or salad and an appetizer, or a couple of side dishes, instead of an overly large entree. Many restaurants these days offer smaller “tasting” plates or tapas-size portions too. They are worth a try and often just right in size.


4. Split the Difference

If an entrée sounds like too much food, see if one of your dining companions would like to share it with you. Or set aside half of the food as soon as it arrives and ask the waiter to wrap it up for you.


Ask for Sauces & Dressings on the Side

5. Ask for Sauces & Dressings on the Side

Most restaurants use a heavy hand with toppings; they just can’t help themselves. When they’re on the side you can control the amount without having to miss out. Rather than pouring them on, dip the tip of your fork into the dressing or sauce, then take a bite of food, so you’ll get a little taste in every bite.


Ask Questions

6. Ask Questions

Request that food be prepared your way, within reason (asking for a salad on the side instead of chips is reasonable; asking to have the fish and chips special steamed instead of fried is not). Ask politely but unapologetically; remember, restaurants are in the service business. Most are more than willing to accommodate your request—after all, you’re paying!