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Five Tips to Eating Healthy while Eating Out – Part 1 of #HealthyChomps Series

Eating out all the time can lead to quite a few health consequences ranging from obesity to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and digestive issues or worse. Restaurant meals are often sized large enough for at least two servings and can contain a full day’s worth of saturated fat and sodium.

Of course, moderation is key and choosing wisely and having a healthy balanced lifestyle is a big part of that.

As part of a new series here at, we will be exploring how to eat healthier while eating out at restaurants as well as changes we can make to our diets to improve our health. This conversation will be lead by registered dietitians and nutritionists in our community.

As always, consult your doctor first if you have any questions or concerns about your health.



Five Tips to Healthy Eating While Eating Out

by Maria Ali, RD, LD/N of Second Harvest Food Bank

If you’re trying to be health conscious when dining out, you’ll want to avoid fried foods, heavily salted foods and very sweet foods. Sounds almost impossible doesn’t it?

Dining out should be an enjoyable experience. Sometimes it’s best to leave the strict food rules at home. Here are a few tips that hopefully won’t leave you feeling deprived:


· Choose water.

Save calories and few dollars by drinking the “free” beverage.


· Include vegetables.

If your meal doesn’t come with vegetables, order them as a side item or substitute a less healthy side, like fries, for a salad.


· Watch your portions.

Many restaurants serve meals that are 2-4 times the recommended serving size. It’s a good idea to plan for leftovers or share your meal to limit the amount of food you consume at that sitting.


· Ask for things “on the side.”

When it’s appropriate, ask for creamy salad dressings, toppings like mayo or sour cream, and even butter topping on the side. Save fat by spreading less of these sauces and toppings on your food.


· Don’t do it too much.

It’s important to find that personal balance of dining out, cooking at home, and exercise. I recommend keeping exercise and preparing meals at home the foundation, and dining out the splurge.

If you dine out often and don’t tend to order the most health conscious meals, up your movement to avoid putting on extra weight. Walk after meals. Hit the gym. Dance on the weekends.

M AliMaria Ali, RD, LD/N is the Nutrition Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Since joining the food bank in 2010, she has implemented nutrition education programs and has fostered the progress of several of the food bank’s nutrition initiatives which includes: a nutrition committee, a nutrition strategic planning workshop, and a wellness program for staff. Additionally, she serves as a Board Member of the Orlando Dietetic Association and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Ms. Ali strives to inspire others to live a healthier lifestyle by sharing her passion for nutrition through teaching, speaking, and social media. You can find her at and @morthancalories on twitter.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series as we continue discussion with Ms. Maria Ali, Nutrition Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank.

Check out Second Harvest’s events calendar and upcoming Guest Chef Nights on October 21 and November 21.

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