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Restaurant Eating: How to Choose Healthier Options.

Restaurant Eating: How to Choose Healthier Options

Do you feel like you are making a healthy choice when you go out to eat?

If you answered “no” chances are you are not alone. Maybe you want to make a healthy selection, but you are uncertain where to start.

As of May 7, 2018, new menu labeling requirements, enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will now make it easier for you to make an informed decision when you go out to eat at a chain restaurant:

"Consumers will have access to calorie and nutrition information in certain chain establishments covered by the rule. The menu labeling requirements apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations."1

This is great news, considering that on average Americans go out to eat 4 to 5 times each week. 2

In this article, I will share healthier selections from restaurants that made it on the list of Best Chain Restaurants in America 3 and share my own personal tips for success when eating out.

Red Robin

Dishes to try:

  • Ensenada Chicken Platter (480 calories, 27 g carb)
  • Sear-ious Salmon (480 calories, 9 g carb)
  • Simply Grilled Chicken Salad (320 calories, 29 g carb)

Nutrition fact information

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Outback Steakhouse:

Dishes to try:

  • Tilapia with Pure Lump Crab Meat (520 calories, 8 g carb)
  • Grilled Chicken on the Barbie, 8 oz., with Fresh Mixed Veggies (520 calories, 34 g carb)
  • Perfectly Grilled Salmon, 7 oz., with Fresh Mixed Veggies (540 calories, 18 g carb)

Nutrition fact information

Buffalo Wild Wings

Dishes to try:

  • Grilled Chicken Buffalitos (500 calories, 37 g carb)
  • Snack Size Traditional Wings with Buffalo Dry Seasoning (365 calories, 1 g carb)
  • Garden Salad, with Lemon Vinaigrette with Grilled Chicken Breast (800 calories, 57 g carb*)

*Hold the croutons to reduce the carb amount

Nutrition fact information

Olive Garden

Dishes to try:

  • Herb-Grilled Salmon (460 calories, 8 g carb)
  • Chicken Piccata-dinner portion (500 calories, 11 g carb)
  • Salmon Piccata (590 calories, 12 g carb)

Nutrition fact information

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Dishes to try:

  • Good Morning Breakfast: two egg whites, turkey sausage, grits, tomatoes and seasonal fruit (310 calories, 32 g carb)
  • Southern Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Caesar Salad Dressing (640 calories, 29 g carb)
  • Apple Cider BBQ Chicken Breast (290 calories, 21 g carb)

Nutrition fact information

My personal tips for success:

  • Plan ahead. Check the menu a head of time.
  • Choose 2 to 3 dishes (just in case your first or second choice is not available)
  • If you’re going to a chain restaurant, check out the nutrition facts.
  • Beverages. Have a plan.
    • Water is best
    • Avoid unlimited/bottomless soda beverages, sweet teas, and lemonades
    • If you choose to consume alcohol, know your limit. Alcohol ingestion may lower your inhibitions, making you less likely to choose healthier menu options.
    • A 5oz. glass of red wine or a 12oz. bottle of light beer are both lower in calories and carbs than many mixed drinks.
  • Pass on bottomless chip baskets and bread baskets
  • Share a dish with someone at your table
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a menu item to be modified
  • Request salad dressing on the side
  • If you’re ordering salad, skip the croutons
  • Steer clear of breaded and fried foods
  • Ask for a side salad, steamed vegetables, or a fruit salad in place of fries or chips
  • Limit red meat consumption by choosing a poultry, fish, or vegetarian menu option
  • Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you feel bad about what you chose to eat, forgive yourself and start fresh at your next meal.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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