Dining Out Can Be Healthy Too: Finding Balance

Amy Kaczor, MS, RD, LDN

Dining out is commonly considered "unhealthy" and "indulgent" but can be a part of a very balanced lifestyle. Besides just mere convenience, eating at a restaurant is an enjoyable social experience, and that is okay. Rather than avoiding dining out of the home, here are a few tips and tricks to help you eat balanced meals when at a restaurant.

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1) Incorporate whole grains. Based on the MyPlate food model, which has since replaced the Food Pyramid, half of the grains you consume in a day should ideally be whole grains (MyPlate, n.d.). Whether this is wheat pasta, wheat bread, oats, wheat tortillas, or brown rice, whole grains provide many B vitamins, iron, and dietary fiber.

2) Look for lean proteins. A wide variety of protein sources will ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs. Lean protein can include lean beef or pork, skinless chicken or turkey, and seafood. Vegetarian options include tofu, beans, nuts and seeds, and lentils.

3) Add plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables should comprise half of the dining plate (MyPlate, n.d.). A side salad, tasty fruit or vegetable side dish, or a fresh veggie topping to the protein, can not only provide vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy but also add color, texture, and flavor to your plate.

4) Don't forget your dairy. What first comes to mind is a glass of milk or non-dairy milk alternative, but feel free to be creative here! Yogurt, cottage cheese, even ice cream will provide calcium to keep your body strong.

5) Consider portion size. Restaurant portion sizes are often larger than a typical meal you would eat at home. But, again, listen to your body's natural fullness cues, and don't be afraid to take the rest home for later.

Amy Kaczor, MS, RD, LDN


Are you making every bite count? MyPlate. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2022, from https://www.myplate.gov/

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Part-time Registered Dietitian, Part-time Freelancer, Part-time Entrepreneur, Full-time Coffee Enthusiast. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter for subscriber-only content!

Chicago, IL

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