How to eat healthily when eating in restaurants

The Vitl Nutrition Team / 8 Jul 2021

Our in-house nutritionist gives advice on how to keep to a healthy diet whilst eating out in restaurants, now that restrictions are easing.


With the easing of lockdown restrictions, eating at restaurants has already started to become more frequent. However, we have all felt the struggle; kicking off our new nutrition plan and feeling the pressure to opt out of social activities to make sure we keep our caloric intake in check. Here are a couple of tips that can help you eat healthily anytime and anywhere.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Usually, cooks at restaurants are particularly invested in flavour; that said, they sometimes use large amounts of fat, salt or sugar to provide tasteful dishes. It is absolutely ok to check with the chef with regards to the healthiest option; this includes foods made with extra virgin olive oil rather than butter, and steamed, grilled, roasted, baked or poached options, instead of fried. Your chef or waiter/tress will most likely be able to assist you here too.

Remember the golden balance

Half of your plate should be greens, ¼ protein and ¼ carbohydrates. You can always opt out of carbs (such as fried potatoes, bread or pasta) and stick to a grilled chicken or tofu salad. In any case, make sure to stick to your portion size, and avoid ‘sharers’; you may find it tricky to keep your plate balanced eating these.

Drink water or… a glass of red wine!

Avoid sodas or any other sugar-sweetened beverage. Opt for water or a nice glass of red wine; red wine is one of the constituents of the Mediterranean diet that contributes to its cardioprotective effect. Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant making it a healthy choice. Not everyone likes drinking wine, however. If you’d rather not, water (still or sparkling) is key to avoid the excess calories of sugary drinks.

Salads at restaurants are not always healthy

Don’t be tricked; just because it is named ‘salad;, it doesn’t mean that it is the healthiest dish on the menu. Often, salads in restaurants contain high amounts of oil, mayonnaise, or other highly calorific ingredients included to achieve a creamy, tasty dressing. Croutons, crispy bacon and cheese are also elements that, although seemingly innocent, contribute to a dramatic increase in the caloric content of your salad. You can always kindly ask your chef to serve the dressing separately, and add olive oil, some lemon juice or vinegar and a pinch of salt. Additionally, you can opt out of having croutons (which are usually deep fried), and ask instead for a handful of mixed nuts or seeds. Dried fruits like figs are also delicious with salads, especially when combined with oil and balsamic vinegar.

Order before others

Although it might sound silly, we often get influenced by our peers' decisions. Stick to your initial, healthy decision - and now you know how to pick the healthier choice!

No matter what… enjoy!

Even if you end up ordering that burger, please enjoy every single bit of it… proudly! No need to punish yourself with guilt. Always remember; a healthy relationship with food includes eating a pizza at a football game or season finale of your favourite show with no guilt! It’s the habitual eating of processed food that becomes the problem. 

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