October 01, 2018

Dining out well

Making healthy restaurant choices

Whether for a convenience or a treat, dining out is a common — and growing — part of Western culture. From portion size to troublesome ingredients, there are potential downsides to regularly dining at restaurants. But that doesn't mean you need to avoid them completely. Making a few sensible adjustments in how you eat out can help you maintain a healthy diet even outside of your home.

Restaurant pitfalls

Some foods at restaurants are more obviously challenging than others. Plates piled high at a buffet or baskets of greasy french fries — it's clear these aren't the wisest choices. But some diet busters are less obvious.

In addition to giant portions, restaurant fare is notorious for ingredients and preparation methods — think lots and lots of butter — that drive up the calories, fat and sodium. In fact, evidence shows that an average meal at an independent or small-chain restaurant contains over 1,300 calories — almost two-thirds of what could be considered a typical 2,000 calorie diet.

Industry changes

As consumers are becoming more health conscious, the food industry is starting to make changes. As of 2018, restaurants that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations are required to list calorie information for standard menu items. These businesses must also be able to provide, on request, a nutritional breakdown of menu items, including the fat, sodium, sugar, cholesterol and carbohydrate content. Many vending machines also will list the calorie content of available foods.

Tips for healthy dining

To ensure your dining out experience is...