Question: Can chain restaurants be healthy choices for eating out?
Yes! Chain restaurants, like almost every other restaurant, can be a healthy choice when it comes to eating out. Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians always recommends avoiding the “healthy restaurant” trap. Most restaurants offer a spectrum of menu choices – from the great to the best avoided “calorie bombs” so often seen in new headlines. Your kitchen is probably pretty similar, with a wealth of lean proteins, fruits and veggies and whole grains plus a few indulgences.
Instead of avoiding certain restaurants, focus on making healthy choices at every restaurant you frequent: fast food, fine dining and everything in between. This strategy allows for much more flexibility in your healthy lifestyle.
When eating out at restaurants, follow these tips to make the best choices for your health goals:
- Make fruits and vegetables the centerpiece of your meal. MyPlate recommends that at least half of your plate be filled with such foods, and for good reason. These nutrient-dense, fiber-rich and often lower-calorie foods have been linked to a variety of health benefits and can be found at almost every restaurant.
- Opt for lean proteins like seafood, poultry and lean cuts of beef such as sirloin. These choices can help satisfy with less fat and fewer calories, whether they’re served at your favorite fast food restaurant or the newest high-end bistro down the block.
- Choose whole grains over refined to fill up and keep hunger at bay. Whole grain buns, brown rice, oatmeal and more choices are becoming more and more common at restaurants, thanks to growing demand.
Watch out for condiments, sauces and dressings to control added calories and sodium. When possible, skip these additions or ask for them on the side to help manage quantities.
These are just a few tips we recommend for making the best choices at any restaurant. Find more ideas for making healthy choices at restaurants here. Don’t forget to search for Healthy Dining options near you with the personalized search on HealthyDiningFinder.com. Our team of registered dietitians works closely with a variety of restaurants coast to coast to take the guess work out of finding great choices.