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Ask Ginger: Making Healthy Choices While Dining Out
Mar 08

Ask Ginger: Making Healthy Choices While Dining Out

By Let's Move Pittsburgh

You've got questions ... we’ve got answers! Email your queries about healthy foods, physical activity and screen time for kids and Ginger will answer them here on the Phipps blog.

Q: No one in my family is a great cook, so we often go out to eat. What are some tips on how to make healthier decisions while at restaurants? (Katelyn, Oakland)

A: Great question! Making healthy choices while dining out calls for tough decision making, but we have some tips to ensure you have a nutritious meal.

When you are choosing foods from the menu, select items noted with less fat or fewer added sugars. Some menus have a symbol next to lower calorie items, but don’t be afraid to ask for a healthier substitution if you don’t see it listed on the menu. We suggest:

  • Order an appetizer or side dish for your meal as they are often smaller portions
  • Pick broiled, baked or steamed foods rather than fried foods
  • Opt for fat-free or low-fat milk instead of cream in coffee or tea
  • Choose lower-calorie salad dressings and ask for it on the side. (You can also ask for higher calorie creamy sauces to be served on the side.)
  • Get your whole grains by requesting whole-wheat or multigrain breads, rolls or pasta when you order your meal.
  • Pick low-calorie beverages without added sugar, like water, sparkling water, low-fat milk or unsweetened tea. (For a bit of extra flavor, ask for a slice of lemon or lime in your water or tea.)
  • Ask to swap fries or potatoes for extra vegetables or a side salad
  • Choose tomato or vegetable-based sauces over creamy sauces

Once your meal has been served, we have a few more tips on maximizing the nutritional value:

  • Remove skin or trim fat from meats
  • Cut your meal and take half home for later
  • Skip dessert or order fruit1

Visit websites such as Choose My Plate, Eat Right by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or the American Heart Association for more tips on how to eat healthy while dining out!


1. Eating Healthy When Eating Out

2. Choose MyPlate: 10 Tips: Eating Foods Away from Home

3. Eat Right: 7 Tips for Healthy Dining Out

4. American Heart Association: Dining Out