It was my birthday yesterday! Trying to find restaurants to celebrate at was a challenge. Since I’m now 26, I thought I’d share 26 tips I’ve learned for dining out, whether you’re low-FODMAP or just trying to eat healthier/lose weight. Stay tuned for a future post on my favorite healthy restaurants in NYC.
General Healthy Eating Tips
- Portion sizes in the U.S. are often at least double that of what they eat in other countries. Ask for a half-sized portion.
- Alternatively, ask for half of it in a to-go bag for tomorrow. Before it even gets to the table.
- Sushi is always a safe bet. Unless you’re getting the spicy crunchy rolls. Some rolls may be higher in calories, but the healthy omega 3s make up for it.
- Other healthy options: Seafood, Mediterranean, American (if you go for salads or grilled protein)
- Chain restaurants are required to provide nutrition info. Check online before you go.
- Don’t be fooled by fake healthy options. Vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free does not mean they’re healthy. They can still be high in calories, carbs, or sodium. Veggie burgers, for instance, can sometimes be even worse than hamburgers.
- Always ask for dressing on the side. Use only what you need.
- Your best options for salad dressings include olive oil, vinaigrettes, vinegars, mustards, and lemon/lime juice.
- Avoid unnecessary refined carbs. Order a sandwich without the bread and enjoy it as a salad.
- If bread is brought to the table, just say no thank you rather than leaving the temptation on the table
- Know how to order your food. Grilled, steamed, roasted, or boiled is always going to be healthier than fried, broiled, or sauteed.
- Know how to read the menu. Words like creamy, crispy, breaded, scalloped, basted, au gratin often give away that it may not be the healthiest choice.
- Steamed veggies are your friend and they can help fill you up. Plus, it’s still a treat because they taste so much better when prepared by a real chef!
- Have tapas. Trying multiple small things may be more satisfying than one large dish. You may eat more of one thing since you’re never completely satisfied.
- Similarly, try sharing big dishes.
- Ask to substitute sides. Salads, fruit, or steamed veggies instead of fries can make a big difference.
- At Italian and Asian restaurants, skip the pasta and noodle dishes. Order fish or meat instead.
Laduree was nice enough to make this dish without onions or garlic for me
- Research the menu ahead of time
- Become a regular. Find a few restaurants you really like so you can learn the menu in and out. Plus, if they remember you, all of your special requests will be much easier to handle.
- Don’t be shy. Ask questions. Make special requests. Be assertive. This is your health on the line.
- Your best bets are usually a salad with olive oil or lemon juice for dressing or grilled meat/seafood. Sushi also works.
- Not a fan of blander foods? Bring your own low-FODMAP salad dressings and sauces. It might feel a little awkward, but it’s less awkward than all the pain you’d be in otherwise!
- Breakfast is usually pretty easy. Eggs are your friend.
- Beware of onions and garlic. These are the hardest to avoid because they’re hidden in most sauces. Always ask about this even if you’re pretty sure you’re safe.
- It’s generally a good idea to avoid soups. There are usually onions in the broth.
- Look for restaurants that specialize in gluten-free, all-natural, etc. You still need to be careful of other ingredients, but they tend to be more accommodating of special requests.
Have any more tips? I’d love to hear them!