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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

Nutrition - Food Skills
- Eating Healthy on the Go

Is it Possible to Eat Healthy When Eating Out?

Eating out can fit into a healthy lifestyle.  The availability of healthy options at restaurants has increased, making it possible to make healthy food choices when eating out.  The next time you visit a restaurant, think about the following information when choosing your meal.




How “fast” does the “fast food” add up?


Fast foods are often high in fat, sodium, calories, and low in fibre.  Eating too much fat, especially saturated and trans fat, can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer.  Ask yourself – is the fast food meal really worth it?

A typical fast food meal might look like this:

Deluxe hamburger, large fries, and a small chocolate shake – 1700 calories & 70 grams of fat

One fast food meal like this can provide all of the calories and fat that an adult needs for a whole day in only one meal.  Ask for healthier foods to replace some of the fat and calories:

Choose…..  Instead of…..
Grilled Fried
Milk or 100% juice  Soft drink
Baked potato or salad     French fries



Menu Clues

There are a number of healthier choices you can make to enjoy eating out.

  • Choose low fat salad dressing, and ask for the dressing on the side.
    Remember that salad toppings such as breaded chicken strips and bacon bits are high in fat.

  • Avoid mayo, sauce, cheese, or bacon on your burger.  Load up with lettuce and tomato instead.

  • Switch fries for a salad, baked potato, chilli, or vegetable soup.

  • Ask for 100% juice, milk, or water  instead of pop.


When you see the words.... It means the food is probably....
Baked, barbequed, broiled, grilled, poached,     
roasted, steamed, stir-fried
cooked with little or no fat – Go for it!
Alfredo, au gratin, battered, creamed,
crispy, deep-fried, pastry, prime, rich,
sautéed, with thick sauce
higher in fat and calories – Caution!
Pickled, smoked, soy sauce higher in sodium – Caution!



The trick is to choose wisely!

Remember three key things:

  1. Serving sizes are often too big.  If the servings are much larger than you would normally eat at a meal, share with someone else or take some home to eat the next day.

  2. Restaurant meals are sometimes low in vegetable and fruit choices, as well as low in dairy and fibre.  If you know you will be eating out, balance the rest of your day by eating more healthy foods such vegetables, fruits, low fat milk products, and whole grains at home.

  3. Be aware of “extras.”  Bacon, sausage, cold cuts, french fries, gravy, cream sauces, and soda are all high in calories, some are also high in fat, and low in nutrients.  Choose these foods less often, and bulk up the meal with some vegetables and fruit.


One other tip – avoid “super-size”, also known as “up-size” or “biggie-size.”  Also, if you are only hungry for a burger, just buy the burger.  You don’t have to buy a “meal deal” if you are not hungry for it.




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Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
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