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Choosing Healthy Restaurant Meals

When eating out beware of large portions that are often high in calories, fat and salt


NIH/National Institute on Aging

Going out to eat is enjoyable, but restaurants often serve large meals, which can be high in calories, fat and salt. Don’t be afraid to ask how items on the
menu are prepared and request substitutions.

Here are a few tips from Go4Life to help make your meal both delicious and nutritious:

  • Order a salad with lean meat, low-fat or fat-free cheese, and other healthy toppings. Choose low-fat or fat-free salad dressing, and ask for the dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, braised, grilled, steamed, sautéed, or boiled. Avoid fried food.
  • Hold the “special sauces.” Ask the kitchen not to top your dish with butter or whipped cream.
  • Select foods with a tomato-based or red sauce instead of a cream-based or white sauce. Tomato-based sauces usually contain more vitamins, less fat, and fewer calories.
  • Use portion control: Skip the “large” or “super sized.” Ask for “small,” or share a portion.
  • Ask for food to be prepared without added salt and don’t add salt at the table.
  • Drink water, fat-free or low-fat milk, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • Instead of fries, try a small baked potato, side salad with low-fat or fat-free dressing or fruit.
  • Order an item from the menu instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
  • If you take home leftovers, get them into the refrigerator within two hours — sooner if the temperature outside is above 90° F.

Quick Tip

For more ideas on healthy eating, read "What’s on Your Plate? Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging."

Based on content from Go4Life ® , the exercise and physical activity campaign from the NIH/National Institute on Aging.

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