A Few Simple Tips for Eating Out

Have you ever asked yourself, How do I handle that situation in a health way? In our new series of blogs, Revive’s Registered Nutritionists will put their heads together and provide strategies to help you handle a variety of tricky situations. From eating strategies while watching sports with friends to how to be mindful while eating out, we will show you how to handle a variety of situations. Along the way, Revive’s Registered Nutritionists will share some of the obstacles they encounter in their own lives and the tools they use to overcome them.


Dinner – Raina

A nice relaxing dinner out at a restaurant is something we all look forward to. No cooking, no dishes, no hassle. There have been times where I’ve used eating out as a reward for myself. In that mentality, I almost always make choices that are not helpful to my body, thinking that I “deserve” that entrée, drink, or dessert. There have been many times where I have consumed almost a day’s worth in calories in one meal.

Here is how I handle going out for dinner: veggies first! Either I have these at home or at the restaurant with a starter salad. This just helps top me up on fibre, and I always make better decisions when I’m not starving. I order the entrée that I want, but pack half of it up. I drink water or tea as I know the food is likely going to be salty. If I get a dessert, I share it!

If you’re someone who loves the bread or buns that many restaurants serve before your meal, count that as your grain and starch and choose an entrée that has high quality protein and vegetables. Ask for double the vegetables instead of the potato or rice side.  Your grain portion will be better controlled and you will not leave feeling stuffed.

Finally, I’ve stopped thinking about eating out as a “reward” for myself. Yes, we go to restaurants often for celebrations, however it’s just a part of my life. Eating out doesn’t give me special permission to throw everything out the window!


Lunch – Barbara

“Who wants to go for lunch?!”

You might hear this at your workplace every day. The sound of a freshly made restaurant meal can be much more appealing than the peanut butter sandwich you have in your bag, if you even had time to pack a lunch in the first place. Research shows that eating out often results in a higher intake of salt, fat and can take a serious toll on your wallet: eating out consistently can triple or quadruple your lunch food budget. However, we live in a less than perfect world where kids, pets and other commitments take up time and prevent you from packing a lunch for yourself.

Fortunately, there are some strategies that can make eating out for lunch more healthful and less draining on your bank account. If you know that you have a meeting that will involve lunch out, look at the menu and nutritional information ahead of time. A simple chicken salad can be a less healthful choice than the house burger or chicken sandwich. Aim to order double vegetables with your meal and ask for any sauces or salad dressings on the side so you can regulate how much you are adding to your food. You can also choose to eat half of your meal and save the rest for the following day!

Another great option is visiting a local grocery store and buying a fresh made lentil or chickpea salad paired with a small carton of milk and a tray of raw carrots or snap peas. It can be much easier to assemble a healthy meal at a grocery store than at a restaurant.


Breakfast – Susan

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day! When I eat out for breakfast, it is usually on the weekend and happens to be later than when I normally eat breakfast during the week. For this reason, I usually do not need a morning snack after enjoying a restaurant breakfast meal.

Here are a few tips to keep a restaurant breakfast balanced:
For a classic bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast meal:

  • Ask if there is a chicken sausage option instead of pork to help limit total fat.
  • Choose either toast OR hash browns (if the meal comes with both), and swap out the other for a side of fresh fruit.
  • Ask for unbuttered toast as there will already be some fat added to cook the bacon and eggs.

For pancakes, waffles, and French toast

  • If you are on a breakfast date, order the pancakes/waffles/French toast along with a vegetable omelette or frittata. Split both the meals in half to share!
  • Order an egg on the side and ask for peanut butter to top your pancakes for more protein! You don’t have to finish it all especially if you have a towering stack. Share, or take some home for later.
  • Ask for the syrup on the side so you an decide how much to add.

For egg dishes like omelettes and scrambles:

  • Choose a vegetable omelette or frittata with a side of fresh fruit or toast. This is a lighter option than a quiche with the pastry crust.
  • Skillet scrambles usually come with hash browns, so opt for a side of fruit salad instead of the toast.

Customize with extra sides:

  • Restaurants usually have extra sides that you can order together to make a balanced meal. For example, order the bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit and an egg on the side.
  • Try ordering a side of sourdough or rye bread, ask for peanut butter on the side (instead of buttered) and the side of eggs with a small bowl of fruit.