Click here to read our frequently asked Diet and Nutrition questions.
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.
Fitness Minutes: (56,973)
690 3/6/13 9:52 P
I've checked menus online, and stick to the low-cal, high protein options...but really, when I'm trying to lose weight I try to stay away from restaurants, as they usually wreck my efforts for the week. It could be due to salt, or just not knowing *exactly* how much of everything is used in the cooking process...
We eat out quite regularly and I found in the past that this sabotages my weight loss efforts. Now I go online and look at the menu for diet-friendly options. If there aren't any, I go someplace else! I also ask for double vegetables and no starch to conserve calories. I love salmon so I often have that as my entree. Desserts are reserved for special occasions only! Lately I have been skipping the wine and this conserves calories and $.
There was an article on the news in my area recently about restaurants meals and how much salt was "supposed" in them. They discovered that the meals had as much as 4300 mg. of salt. This was due to how much salt was used in the preparation of each component of the meal before it was placed on the plate for service.
Fitness Minutes: (19,655)
85 3/6/13 8:14 A
Ask for the kid's menu - I've found at a lot of mid and even higher end restaurants they'll have an appetizer plate for kids with raw veggies and fruit (the Keg does this) and the entrée portions are generally much smaller. Yes, many of the menus state "for children under 12" but I've never had a problem ordering - I'll offer to pay a bit extra but none of the restaurants has ever charged more.
The kid's entrees tend to have fewer sauces and even if you order something more caloric, the reduced portion size helps moderate the quantity of calories.
Alternatively, some restaurants have a "senior's" set of selections. Same deal with smaller portions but sometimes more entrée options.
The simplest way to knock off sometimes a few hundred calories when eating out, is skip condiments and sauces. I also look for words like creamed or rich...those are calorie bomb words and will sabotage you every time. Find the fittest thing on the menu and challenge yourself to make it even healthier. I have no issue with having the cook prepare my food different from what the menu advertises. I figure it's my money, my waist line, and my choice!
I absolutely recommend the Eat This, Not That books for restaurants and supermarkets. While some of the selections boil down to the lesser of two evils, many of the comparisons give you a lot of information about calories, sodium, sugar and fat content, and really do point to options that are, in fact, healthy. It gives me a much larger selection when I eat out as opposed to just getting the standard salad and salmon or sirloin. I love these books --- they also help me make healthier choices for my entire family when it comes to groceries and take out.
Applebees is my favorite. Their lighter fare menu makes me feel special. It's not just a plain "grilled chicken breast" like so many places offer. Ruby Tuesday also has a good menu. You can choose the main dish and have two choice of sides. I think they list the calories on the menu. Olive Garden also has a lighter fare menu. I usually get the venetian apricot chicken, which is under 400 calories and then either have a bowl of minestrone, because hot soup always fills me up, or the salad with the dressing on the side. Then I dip my fork in the dressing for each bite and I don't feel deprived. TGIFridays has a few things on their Right price right portion menu which qualifies as lighter fare as well. I wish more restaurants would be better about publishing their nutrition information!
Fitness Minutes: (10,484)
6 3/3/13 1:26 P
I like the Seafood Brodetto at Olive Garden-lots of fresh seafood in a tasty tomato broth. I think it is @ 400 cal or so but very filling.
Check out the chain Seasons 52. More of an upsclae place for a special but healthy dinner . All of thier food has a caloirie count and all of the entrees are supposed to be 475 calories or under. Everything is tasty there! They even have tiny dessert cups (250 cal ) And I have never left there feeling hungry either :-)
Fitness Minutes: (3,052)
229 3/3/13 8:54 A
We rarely eat out, but when we do we always get salad and dressing on the side. We look for restaurants that have steak with sweet potato as an option. We also love Subway, it's our favorite for night we don't want to cook
I don't know if its healthy but I love the BBQ chicken flatbread at TGIFridays. Its only 430 calories and has 23g of protein. Its an appetizer but I get it as an entree and it leaves me very satisfied.
Fitness Minutes: (4,675)
1 3/2/13 10:04 P
You might want to re-check McDonald's. They just announced that they are cancelling some of their healthy options.
Going out is something I do as a treat or a special occasion. I do eat at home most of the time and I have no problem planning meals. But getting to Applebee's or Red Lobster for something I can't afford to cook at home that is actually cheaper from a chain's menu is fun. I like the under 500 calorie menus and I check out the websites to plan ahead.
I always ask for my salad dressing on the side, dry fish (no sauce, but still flavorful if they use salt, pepper with olive oil), grilled or steamed vegetables. Mixed berries for dessert. Most restaurants are good about altering the dish if it's a reasonable request.
Fitness Minutes: (8,763)
9 3/1/13 6:32 P
My family likes to eat out, and we go fairly often. To stay on track, I sometimes select shrimp cocktail or another appetizer that's not served with a lot of sauce or fried and then choose soup, salad another appetizer or an entree without a lot of sauce. When my dinner arrives, I ask for the box and remove all but one "normal" portion from my plate to take home for a meal or two. I don't feel restricted or guilty, and it gets my husband and son looking at their portion size, too, and they'll often ask for a container.
Panera You Pick Two. I usually get the Black Bean Soup (170 calories, 2g fat, 6g fiber) and Half Asian Sesame Salad (240 calories & 13g fat with all ingredients, but I usually skip the wonton strips and use 1/2 the dressing). Panera's offers whole wheat baguettes, or you can get an apple instead of the baguette. The only downside is like most restaurants the sodium is super-high.
Jack Astor's - Lamb Kafta (Kafka?) It's still about 600 calories for the whole meal, but it's high fibre and protein and WOW delicious!
Fitness Minutes: (63,813)
31,289 2/28/13 6:02 P
Stay away from restaurants if you can. A home cooked meal is so much more satisfying. If you have to dine out, check all the information here on Spark.
Fitness Minutes: (3,693)
38 2/28/13 10:36 A
When I have free time, I search the internet for the nutrition menus of restaurants I like. I know the big chains will be required to have it printed in their menus soon too. Sometimes I have to e-mail more than once to get the info (ahem Buffalo Wild Wings) this lets me know before I go what I want to order. I keep meaning to set up a list of restaurants and the menu items within my target calorie range so I have choices.
Although Applebee's healthy choices have a LOT of sodium, I feel so indulged having surf&turf - I would order that if I wasn't dieting. And I feel like Applebee's was one of the first big chains to offer healthy TASTY options that aren't just dry salad. I appreciate that, I go through burn-out phase on salads and that can be a failure point if I'm not careful.
Top picks: Applebee's light menu 6" sub from Subway Gas station quick-picks (fruit, yogurt, protein bar etc) anything is better than McD's.
Fitness Minutes: (1,201)
205 2/27/13 10:20 P
Most of the chain places i've been to recently advertise at least a few lower cal options. I only go to restaurants when traveling or when i'm having a splurge meal though, so I haven't actually ordered any of them.
Fitness Minutes: (11,216)
930 2/27/13 5:20 P
Bob Evans has a Fit From the Farm menu for every meal.
My local Bob Evans serves a very nice large Garden Side Salad (50 Cal.) Along with that I get ala cartel grilled Chickenbreast (165 Cal). A little light dressing on the side to dip into.
Fitness Minutes: (33,677)
5,088 2/27/13 3:57 P
Ruby Tuesdays has good options. You can pick 2 sides with most entrees and I get broccoli and zucchini with no butter/oil added.
I often look at a restaurant's nutritional menu ahead of time to make my choice. Sometimes the items listed on a light menu may not be as healthy as one would think. Panera's menu items, for example, often are loaded with fat and calories. When I do go there, I order a cup of chicken noodle or vegetable soup and a half of a Fuji Apple Chicken Salad with the dressing on the side.
During the daytime . . . if I'm on the road - often for work and usually in a hurry - I like to run into a supermarket/grocery if I can find one on my route, and I'll pick up fruit that I can buy "singles" of -- a banana, orange, and/or apple. Then I'll run to the dairy section and grab a fat-free 80 calorie yogurt. Fruit and yogurt satisfy me quite nicely for breakfast or lunch. Every so often if I have to I stop at McDonalds for breakfast which for me is a toasted English muffin-NO butter (130cal) and a Yogurt/Fruit Parfait (150cal). I usually spread some of the yogurt/fruit on the English muffin, then just eat the rest of the yogurt parfait. I know that's 280 calories, but it's satisfying to me when I'm on the run. I'd rather have that as compared to a McD's EggMcMuffin or Sausage Burrito which are both 300 calories--but have an awful lot of calories from FAT.
Fitness Minutes: (1,664)
214 2/27/13 1:04 P
I was at village inn last weekend and was pleasantly surprised with their options. I had a two eggbeater omelet with mozzarella, fresh fruit, vanilla yogurt, and an English muffin for only 400 or so calories. And I was full all afternoon.
I have noticed the healthier options on a lot of restaurant's menus, and I will second that Olive Garden does have a healthier option section. I usually get the minestrone or pasta e fagoli soup there and limit myself to one breadstick. I can make better pasta at home. :-)
Fitness Minutes: (10,607)
402 2/27/13 12:56 P
You got to watch eating out. A lot of hidden fat. I usually try to order a salad without dressing. I don't really care for it. Ask for no butter on your vegtables. Take 1/2 of your entree home. Ask for your meat blackened or grill. Find a place that matches your diet - example, I try to eat low carb so I don't go to Italin places very often. Find places that offer healthy choices. McDonalds - salad or grilled chicken breast w/no bun and apples. You can eat healthy anywhere, you just got to make the right choices.
Longhorn Steakhouse has an Under 500 calorie menu, you can still get a steak, veggies and salad. I work there.. I do chicken and brocoli all the time or salmon, and you can find the same options at almost any restaurant chain..
Fitness Minutes: (11,285)
2,776 2/27/13 11:28 A
I love the Olive Garden salad. A friend of mine and I go there for lunch once in a blue moon, mainly for the salad. We order one pizza (smallish) and share it and we eat two bowls of salad. I also like to go to Applebee's after work on Fridays once in a while. I will usually have one of their salads topped with grilled chicken. Can you tell I LOVE salads??
I went to Ruby Tuesday's on Sunday. They had a spaghetti squash marinara that was delicious, and 390 calories.
Fitness Minutes: (34,194)
126 2/27/13 11:19 A
I LOVE the Cheesecake Factory low cal menu. They have a completely separate, HUGE menu of items that are less than 600 calories...quite a range of items...I enjoyed the grilled salmon and veggies a lot. I think they call it their "skinny menu".
The great part is, I don't even have to LOOK at the regular menu. I just don't even pick that one up so I am not tempted by my biggest temptation... All you have to do is order off that menu and stay away from your dining partner's cheesecake!
I always try to get grilled chicken and veggies. Most places have it on their "lighter" menu. As someone else noted it is usually high in sodium. Also at Olive Garden you can get whole wheat pasta.
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
897 2/27/13 9:56 A
MissRuth -- Actually Olive Garden DOES have an under-500 calorie section on its menu! (Or something along those lines.) I ate from it when we met my parents at one about a month ago.
I find offerings like that to be great for people who are trying to eat well(ish) when out of the house, because it takes the guesswork out. I don't have to try to figure out a reasonable portion of a dish when I have no real idea what's in it, I can just eat the whole thing (or as much as I want) and know it's fine.
For pizza I just have a single slice, with green salad if I want it. Never any idea on the calories, but neither do I care very much how many there are, for a rare thing like that.
We eat at Dennys for breakfast occasionally when we are on the road. They have a Fit Slam which is pretty healthy. You get an egg white scramble, two pieces of turkey ham and fruit. I also will make my own Slam with grits, eng muffin (dry of course), egg whites and turkey bacon. Fills me up until lunch
Chilis and Applebees have great lighter menu options, just have to watch the sodium in them though. If I know I am going out I do the research online and track whatever it is I know I want to eat at the restaurant. If I am with family I will usually have a bite or their "regular" food or a few fries or something so that I do not feel deprived.
Fitness Minutes: (10,472)
1,027 2/27/13 9:22 A
If you know the place you're going to be, see what restaurants are in the area and look up their nutrition facts online. I usually do that before going anywhere so I'm not tempted by the menu. A lot of places too will steam your veggies if you just ask and prepare them with no additional salt or butter which is awesome.
A couple of the chains out here will create a plate for me. I eat raw mainly and there are no restaurants that sell that here. I have them create a plate of raw veggies. I chop it in a big salad or have some just dipped in dressing (usually bring my own). A japanese steakhouse I went to did this for me. I got lots of veggies and they charged me a reasonable price.
There are a lot of chain-type restaurants (not fast food) that now offer a low-cal section-- meals under say 500 or 550 calories or something similar. These will be single-portion sizes and usually include steamed vegetables as one of the sides. Obviously I'm not talking Olive Garden. More along the lines of Applebee's. I do not recall seeing a lot of roasted vegetables-- I think maybe the time involved to prep them (and they don't "hold" well without going overcooked or shivel-ly) may be why?
The only time I can think of fresh fruit being available at any time of day is at a buffet type place. But if you're talking breakfast... we don't go out as often for breakfast, may be other places offer it at breakfast.
Some restaurants also offer a "senior" menu which generally includes smaller portion sizes, though not necessarily low-calorie. (May include fried foods or something with a high-calorie sauce.)
Fitness Minutes: (46,996)
3,463 2/27/13 7:29 A
What healthy choices have you found at restaurant chains? I search and search online. For my definition, I'd like raw, steamed or roasted vegetables included with the meal. I'd like fresh fruit available. And I'd prefer to have the sodium not use up my week's allowance at one meal.
I would also prefer portions be for one person, for one meal, and not have to divide and conquer the calories. When I go out for dinner, I'm often doing it far from home with plans for an evening out afterwards, when the food would spoil before I got it refrigerated.
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkTeams, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.