Healthy Substitutes During Eating Out

Eating out can be a fun way to spend time with friends, but it can also be a source of anxiety for dieters. Despite the push for healthier products in grocery stores, many restaurant portions are as unhealthy as ever. However, there are many ways for you to mitigate the dietary damage of eating out.


Calories from beverages can add up quickly, often without you noticing. In addition, research from the “American Journal of Public Health” found that soft drink intake is related to weight gain and lower intake of calcium and other nutrients. Alcohol isn’t much better–a recent study from the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” indicated that alcohol consumption leads to poor dietary choices.

Instead of drinking regular soda, opt for diet soda or water. If drinking beer, order a low-carb beer. Many mixed drinks are high in calories, so try liquor mixed with diet soda.


If you’re out for breakfast, eggs are often the centerpiece of the dish. While eggs are a good source of protein, they are also high in fat. Many establishments offer egg whites or egg substitute as alternatives to eggs in dishes such as omelets and scrambled eggs.

Cutting out cheese can also drop the fat and calorie content significantly.

Cooking Method

Often, you’ll find a dish that seems healthy–such as a chicken sandwich–only to realize that it is fried. Breading and frying everything from chicken to vegetables turns them into high fat, high calorie items.

In most cases, you can simply ask for your meal to be grilled instead of fried. This eliminates the fatty oil and high-carbohydrate breading.

Another popular cooking method is sauteeing, which involves the use of oil or butter. While this is preferable to frying, it still adds calories to your dish. Try asking for your meal to be grilled or seared instead.

Salads vs. Sandwiches

Sandwiches seem innocuous enough, but all of the bread will throw off your diet if you’re on a low-carbohydrate plan. The addition of mayo and butter to bread also dramatically increases the calorie count of your meal.

Choosing a salad instead of a sandwich will allow you to benefit from the lean protein such as chicken or turkey that you’d find between your bread, without the carbohydrates. In addition, salads offer more vegetables than sandwiches.

Sauces and Dressings

Often, a meal that is healthy enough is compromised by a high calorie sauce or dressing. Words that can cue you to high calorie toppings include alfredo, buttery, creamy, and hollandaise.

If you still want to enjoy the sauce or dressing that comes with your meal, order it on the side so you can control the portion used. In addition, you can ask if there are any low-fat or low-calorie substitutes.

If not, top your pasta dishes with marinara sauce, which is mostly comprised of tomatoes and relatively low in calories. Salads can be topped with hot sauce, mustard, soy sauce, or something as simple as salt and pepper.


A popular way to cut calories is by going on a low carbohydrate diet. However, this often presents one with options that are high in fat, which results in a high calorie meal.

Choosing a meat-based entrée is a great way to cut carbohydrates, but many meats are fatty and high in calories. In addition, if the meat is sauteed or fried, it will be higher in calories. Ask your server if your meat can be broiled, grilled, steamed or smoked.