Seven Easy, Healthy Choices to Make While Dining Out

If you’re like us, you love dining out at local restaurants! There are so many talented and creative chefs in our community and LOTS of good food to eat. Luckily, dining out can be part of a nutritious, heart-healthy lifestyle.

We’ve partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield for many years to provide heart-healthy meals for Project Angel Heart clients living with heart failure. As the Healthy Dining Sponsor for Dining Out For Life®, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield also supports our efforts to encourage community members to make heart-healthy choices when enjoying takeout or dining in at restaurants.

Here are some simple tips they’ve shared to ensure your restaurant meal is enjoyable and also nutritious!

takeout boxes on kitchen counter

Look at the menu ahead of time so you can show up prepared to order a balanced meal. Restaurants often have nutrition information available online, as well! Look for low-fat terms like steamed, in its juice (au jus), garden fresh, broiled, baked, roasted, poached, lightly sautéed, or stir-fried.

Don’t go into the meal starving. Being hungry makes you more likely to overeat. Drink a glass of water or have a light snack (like some carrots, celery, or a piece of fruit) before you go out.

When you order, try to include foods from each food group. Prioritize vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken and fish. The more natural colors and fresher the food on your plate, the better!

Sometimes, restaurant portions are big enough for two or three meals. Ask your server to box half up before you begin eating—now you have two meals for the price of one! You can also order appetizers as your main meal or share an entrée with a friend.

Nearly 75 percent of the sodium found in a typical American diet comes from processed foods, so the easiest way to reduce the amount of salt you consume is by eliminating things like french fries from your meals—ideal swaps: a baked potato, sweet potato, side salad, or seasonal veggies.

Eat slowly! It takes 20 minutes for your stomach and brain to communicate when you’ve had enough to eat.

Skip sweetened drinks like soda and sweet tea. Try sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime, instead, and drink plenty throughout your meal—it will help you eat slower, so you’re less likely to overeat.