26 Tips for Eating Healthy (and Low-FODMAP) at Restaurants

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

sushi restaurant healthy

  1. 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.
  2. Alternatively, ask for half of it in a to-go bag for tomorrow. Before it even gets to the table.
  3. 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.
  4. Other healthy options: Seafood, Mediterranean, American (if you go for salads or grilled protein)
  5. Chain restaurants are required to provide nutrition info. Check online before you go.
  6. 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.
  7. Always ask for dressing on the side. Use only what you need.
  8. Your best options for salad dressings include olive oil, vinaigrettes, vinegars, mustards, and lemon/lime juice.
  9. Avoid unnecessary refined carbs. Order a sandwich without the bread and enjoy it as a salad.
  10. If bread is brought to the table, just say no thank you rather than leaving the temptation on the table
  11. Know how to order your food. Grilled, steamed, roasted, or boiled is always going to be healthier than fried, broiled, or sauteed.
  12. 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.
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. Similarly, try sharing big dishes.
  16. Ask to substitute sides. Salads, fruit, or steamed veggies instead of fries can make a big difference.
  17. At Italian and Asian restaurants, skip the pasta and noodle dishes. Order fish or meat instead.


low-FODMAP restaurant healthy

Laduree was nice enough to make this dish without onions or garlic for me

  1. Research the menu ahead of time
  2. 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.
  3. Don’t be shy. Ask questions. Make special requests. Be assertive. This is your health on the line.
  4. Your best bets are usually a salad with olive oil or lemon juice for dressing or grilled meat/seafood. Sushi also works.
  5. 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!
  6. Breakfast is usually pretty easy. Eggs are your friend.
  7. 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.
  8. It’s generally a good idea to avoid soups. There are usually onions in the broth.
  9. 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!

2 Comments on 26 Tips for Eating Healthy (and Low-FODMAP) at Restaurants

  1. P J says:

    Most of what you are saying is incredibly inaccurate, and honestly concerning. Though i will not go line by line, the ones that stuck out to me were the attacks on Garlic; a well documented lipid lowing, antioxidant reducer and radical removing agent.

    May i suggest actually reading real medical journals on nutrition before writing, publications that require peer reviews and analysis before printing, not just random health magazines with no merit.

    • Danielle says:

      Hi PJ. I’m not sure if you’ve actually read my posts. My problems with garlic have nothing to do with nutrition. For the average person it’s great. But like gluten, many people have a sensitivity to it that causes a lot of negative side effects. I encourage healthy individuals to eat it, but for those of us who have digestive issues, namely IBS, it’s best avoided. There ARE indeed peer reviewed articles about this if you search online for information about FODMAPs. It’s also recommended by most gastroenterologists and dietitians who deal with these conditions.

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