Finding Time for Fitness in a Busy Life

Eating Healthy at a Restaurant

Eating Healthy at a Restaurant

How to Eat Healthy at a Restaurant

Eating healthy is important to most people. Most people think in order to eat healthy, you need to cook ALL of your meals at home. Well, I don’t cook everyday. Sometimes I get burned out cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the family so I like to go out to eat. There are a few restaurants that we LOVE as a family. And at these restaurants, I can find healthier options to eat and still stay on track.


How to Make Healthy Choices at a Restaurant

  • You don’t need to eat EVERYTHING they give you
  • Salads are great but get the dressing on the side
  • Turn your burger into a lettuce wrap
  • Order the steak!
  • If you can, order off the kids meal


You don’t need to eat EVERYTHING they give you

Eating healthy at a restaurant may also mean watching your portion sizes. The portions at restaurants tend to be larger than what you may have at home. I like to weigh my food because I count macros, but I cannot weigh my food at a restaurant. There are “general” rules for how to measure your food without a scale.


This chart is great! It shows you basically how to measure portion sizes only using your hand. Using a chart like this can help you keep track of your portions and your macros. I give a bit of a buffer because most restaurants use more oils, sauces, and butter than I normally would use at home.



Eating salads can be great but some restaurants can sneak in TONS of added calories, from the large portions of cheese to croutons and extra dressing! For example, when I order a chicken Caesar salad, I ALWAYS get the dressing on the side! When I get the dressing on the side, I get full control of how much I put on it. Some restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, will use breaded and fried chicken on their salads — I always request grilled chicken instead. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE deep fried foods! But I know that I can’t overdo it. Not only will it throw my macros off, it upsets my stomach.

Wendy's Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

To me, the best fast food place to get a salad is Wendy’s! The salads are very big and their grilled chicken is great! They also have so many fun choices; like salads with fruits and nuts! But my FAVORITE is the Caesar salad and Jacob loves the apple pecan salad!


Who doesn’t love TACOS!?

Mexican food is delicious, but between the rich sauces and the massive tortillas, that can add up to a LOT of calories! We have a local Mexican restaurant who puts the ingredients of a chicken or steak fajita on a salad and it is AMAZING! So basically, its grilled chicken or steak with grilled onions and peppers on top of Romaine lettuce! I get it every time we go there because like most people, I like to eat the chips and salsa too!

Steak Fajita Salad


Lettuce Wrapped Burgers

Eating healthy can be done when eating burgers too! My absolute FAVORITE way to eat a burger is lettuce wrapped. There are a few reasons I love it. One, it is a fun way to eat a salad. Two, LESS calories than a bun! Three, I get to eat more fries! So true! One way I manage my carbs when it comes to a burger and fries is the fries are the priority. (Ok, but seriously, fries are worth the calories for me!) I get a lettuce wrapped burger so I can eat more fries and not feel horrible afterward. My favorite place to get a burger is Red Robin! I always get the Sauteed Shroom Burger Wedgie Style with sweet potato fries! So good!! Red Robin also has several protein substitutes, such as grilled chicken breast or veggie patty.

Sauteed Shroom Wedgie Burger



If you like red meat, you know a good steak is perfect when you don’t have to make it! Haha! We don’t go out for just steak very often. However, the kids LOVE Applebee’s so Jacob and I always order the 2 for $20 and I get the steak. The best part of ordering the steak is I get to choose the sides. I think the best way of eating healthy with steaks can be the side dishes! I always get the steamed broccoli and french fries (of course)! Steak is pretty straight forward with macros, though may have a little more fat with the butter or oil it’s cooked with.

steak, broccoli and french fries


Order off the kid’s menu

The kid’s menu tends to have smaller portion sizes. Smaller portion sizes are great because they tend to stay within my macros. Another great thing about the kids menu: they always have the fun foods! Macaroni and cheese… burgers… chicken tenders… HAHA! Some times I just want to splurge a bit but I still want the portions to stay small (or I will get an upset stomach) so I like to have chicken tenders and fries. Kid’s meals are perfect for that! Also, fast food kids meals even come with a toy! Also, the kids meal at Panera is basically a smaller portion of the “adult sized” meals.


Going out to eat and staying within your diet

Who said you cannot eat out when you are on a diet? There are many ways to stay within your diet and not have to cook everything! Sometimes we all just need a break from cooking all time and want to spend time with family and/friends! Just remember my tips and you will enjoy your meal and stay within your diet!!



What is the most difficult thing for you when going out to eat? Is it trying to decide what you want? Is it trying to keep your macros or calories on track?

36 thoughts on “Eating Healthy at a Restaurant”

  • All of these tips are so on point! I also always look for a vegetarian or vegan section of the menu, if there is one, or for any kind of grain-based dish.

  • Appreciate the insights. When I eat out, I try to ask for my food to be cooked with as little oil as possible. Not sure how much of a health difference it makes, but I don’t feel as sluggish the next morning.

  • I have been getting a grilled chicken salad a lot when we go out lately. Or, if I know it’s more food than I need and my husband doesn’t want to split a meal, I will ask for a to-go container right away and put half in there so I am not tempted to eat everything. My mom always orders off the kids menu but I like the foods on the adult menu better!

  • When I eat out, the hardest part is when a restaurant has few “healthy” options o n the menu. It is hard to eat appropriately, even if you eat only half, when all the entrees start at over 1000 calories!

  • Great tips for eating out! I like getting the 2 for $20 at Applebee’s too and their steak is the best! I do usually order the broccoli and I too my steak with mushrooms. We also get an unwich at Jimmy John’s so it is wrapped with lettuce instead of bread.

  • I know what you mean about the salads. I used to work at the California Pizza Kitchen, and when our menus started featuring calories, I couldn’t believe how many calories the salads had! Because we got a free meal every day we worked there, I knew this would add up quickly, so when I did get salad, I always got the dressing on the side. I also enjoyed their lettuce wraps. These days I don’t eat out too often, but when I do, Thai food typically seems pretty healthy (as long as I skip the rice). I also love Mexican food, but I usually just get a taco or two. If I get the burrito or one of those big plates, I just feel sick afterward!

    • If we go to Red Robin, Applebee’s, or any Mexican place (our typical sit down restaurants) I order either a burger wrapped in lettuce or a grilled chicken salad with the dressing on the side. Fajitas are great at Mexican restaurants. Steak with broccoli as one of the sides is one of my go tos. I basically look for LOTS of veggies, not a lot of sauce, meat (protein), and healthier carbs.

    • French fries are my favorite sides so I always try to balance with a healthier meal, like steak and broccoli or grilled chicken. 🙂

  • These are amazing choices and it looks something I would order because I don’t really like to eat much of unhealthy food even in home as well.

  • OH I love steak! It’s very hard for us now in this generation to see health first before satisfaction. We eat in restaurants just to satisfy our craving and hunger not really going healthy but I agree this is an essential matter that we have to consider all the time.

  • Great tips, especially as I just came from a Mexican restaurant and it took major discipline to stop eating chips/salsa (seriously one of my fav snacks). lol But I was proud that I didn’t eat everything and brought home tacos for tomorrow’s lunch! I definitely order salad dressing on the side (otherwise it’s way too much), as well as mayo and other condiments.

  • Because we often don’t know what goes into the dishes served at restaurants,it can be hard but your tips are very good. With some effort, we can avoid the excessively high fat and calorie dishes..

  • These are great tips. I hate wasting food so I always end up eating everything on my plate. I need to get better at that!

  • great tips and tricks for eating healthy while out! I cant think of any place that I eat at that would allow me to order off the kids menu (except burger places like mcdonalds lol) but I really like the idea of lettuce wrapped burgers.. I didn’t know that was even an option!

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I may share food ideas and recipes, but I am not a licensed dietitian. I can show you foods I love to eat which may have helped me achieve my weight loss and health goals. I cannot provide meal plans.


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