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Tips for Dining Out

Suggestions for smart nutrition decisions at your favorite restaurant

by Cathy Garvey, RD

Nothing beats a home-cooked meal, especially one that’s as healthy as it is tasty. At the Vegetarian Cooking School at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, we teach you to prepare meals that are both. But we also understand that dining out is a pleasure and a convenience enjoyed by millions of Americans every day.

The next time you treat yourself to a meal in a restaurant, make sure it doesn’t undermine your otherwise good nutritional intentions.

And don’t forget to enrich your meal by savoring its calorie-free and fat-free aspects: the company of family and friends, the ambiance and the pleasure of being served.

Tips for a healthier dining experience

  • Enjoy half of your meal. Bring the other half home, or share your entree with a dining companion.
  • Try a healthy salad dressing. Request olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of a creamy dressing.
  • Pass on the bread. It’s easy to eat mindlessly when served a basket of bread.
  • Finish the meal with fruit. Ask for fresh fruit if you don’t see it on the menu.
  • Be mindful of liquid calories. If you have an alcoholic beverage, limit it to one glass of wine.
  • Make a healthy request. Ask the waiter or waitress about heart-healthy options.