Dining Out Healthy

I’ve always loved eating out. I have such fond memories devouring meatballs and spaghetti off the children’s menu at east coast diners. As I grew older, my family celebrated honorable report cards, choir concerts, dance recitals and mini-milestones at what I thought were fine-dining establishments: Mandarin Yen or Shakey’s Pizza. Even in high school, after football games, we congregated at Davanni’s, Carbonni’s, Perkins or my all-time favorite, Taco Bell. Whatever happy (often made up) non-traditional holiday we celebrated was at a restaurant. Truth be told, my mom was a fine cook, we just enjoyed the hassle free, family or friend focused meal. My mother also cooked healthy dinners, so dining out included gorging on cheesy pizzas, fried rice dishes and creamy pastas. I know better now that eating out doesn’t mean I have to let go of all inhibitions and start “my diet tomorrow.” While it’s tempting to overdo it, I’ve learned a few tips to keep my diet clean while enjoying a night out for travel, on business or just for fun.

Dining Out Healthy

If you’re like me and love dining out on vacation, business trips or with the family, here are a few quick tips to make your experience easier.

Plan Ahead

If you have a chance to select the restaurant, check out the Happy Cow app to find healthy restaurants in the area. Yelp and Open Table also have filters that can assist in finding farm-to-table or restaurants with healthy options.

Ask for Allergy Menu

If you’re already at a restaurant, ask the server for an allergy menu. As a vegan, I don’t eat dairy and often gluten, so menus catering to allergies often list good choices.

Be Creative

Check out the fruits and vegetables on the menu included with other dishes. The restaurant obviously has those items in the kitchen and the chef may be willing to accommodate. I love to combine quinoa, whole wheat pastas or couscous with salads or hot vegetables. Many times I create a meal that combines two different vegetable or potato side dishes. My favorite substitution of all time is to order a mozzarella caprese salad and swap the cheese for avocado. It’s creamy and delicious.

We’d love to hear from you. What do you find most challenging when eating out?

For wellness daily tips and inspirational ideas on healthy living, clean eating and a non-toxic lifestyle, please follow us on Twitter, InstagramFacebook and Pinterest. Please remember to talk with a doctor or natural practitioner when making lifestyle changes.

Items to Keep in Your Purse – Helpful When Dining Out or Traveling

Not every travel destination is filled with healthy options, so I often bring a little something in my purse so I can still eat healthy even with few choices. Typically, breakfast cafes have dry oatmeal and I will add Himalayan sea salt, coconut oil and cinnamon. I also add the sea salt to steamed veggies or the coconut oil and cinnamon to toasted dry sourdough bread. When there is no juice bar in site, I will use these Amazing Green tablets in the morning.


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If you want to get nostalgic with us – check out our Wellness Wednesday episode from a few years ago where we discuss these recommendations for making healthy choices while dining out.


  1. Because of health concerns, my oldest is now a vegetarian with a milk intolerance, so eating out is tough, but we have found that using allergy menus really works. And luckily nowadays so many places have vegan and vegetarian options.

    • I’m glad that you found the allergy menus work for your oldest child. It’s challenging eating out, but if you find a place you trust, it can be really pleasurable. We LOVE this Italian place by us so frequent it all the time. They cater to my son’s peanut allergy as well as my vegan needs. I hope all is well. Happy Wednesday.

  2. I love this topic as it speaks about dining a healthy meal in restaurants. We are used to eat unhealthy food when we go out and eat but this isn’t the only choice. These days we have planty restaurants that offer clean eating dishes.

    • Yes, they do. It’s incredible (and necessary) that restaurants are catering (no pun intended) to our needs. I find that many places will also help me find a dish (or create on the spot) a veggie filled delight. Italian restaurants are very good about this. Happy Spring.

  3. Cheryl Ford

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 months ago. It was a very aggressive type. However I was stage one and there was only a teeny tiny spot in my Sentinel node so no lymph nodes removed. I’ve eaten pretty much what I wanted all my life I’m 58. However in 1999 I had a Whipple surgery I can eat limited Dairy and I have to watch how much fat I ate but we eat whatever. How can I go from this to eating more plant-based? Because of the Whipple I cannot have almond butter or peanut butter I’m sick all day because of a sandwich from that I just need some help and some hints. I just heard a surgeon on TV a breast surgeon say not to eat meat only to eat nuts and peanuts so I need help thank you in advance

    • HI Cheryl. I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I hope that you are doing well and fairing ok with the treatments. Do you meet with a naturopath? I found that a natural doctor is incredibly helpful to guide through what works (food/lifestyle) and complements my medications. Many of them may charge an initial fee but then will only charge a co-pay. When it comes to lifestyle changes, honestly, our bodies are all really different so there is no “one size fits all.” I don’t eat meat. I also don’t eat peanuts. When it comes to eating plant-based, I started by adding fruits and veggies to all of my meals. I also ate/drank 1-2 smoothies a day (filled with fruits and veggies.) I eat a lot of lentils and chick peas. I love quinoa and ancient grains. I wrote a few pieces on about what I eat for clean eating. There are a few simple recipes that might help. Keep in touch. Check out my Instagram @prettywellness for some other good clean eating ideas. Sending you my best.

  4. Thanks for the tips, Caryn!

    I sometimes avoid dining out because it can be hard to find healthy plant-based meals. I’ll have to rethink it and try out some of these tips ASAP :)

    Best wishes!

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