Dining Out? Take our Tips with You!

Chicago Restaurant Week begins this Friday! This annual event is a great opportunity to sample some of the best of Chicago’s culinary scene with prix fixe menus from more than 370 participating restaurants. At FEED Nutrition Consulting, we believe healthy eating is possible anywhere– as long as you have the right tools.

Read on for some best practices for healthy eating when dining out from the dietitians at FEED as well as other top nutrition professionals who lent us their expertise:

Practice portion control:

“Avoid eating all of the protein you order– even though fish and lean meats can be healthful options when dining out. Typically, restaurant portions are two to three times more than what we should eat at one meal! Use your palm or smartphone as a measurement guide, and save the rest for lunch the next day!” –Lara Field, pediatric nutrition expert and owner of FEED Nutrition Consulting

“Limit alcohol– calories can add up quickly! Save your appetite for the delicious food you will eat instead.” –Melanie Silverman, pediatric specialist and Lactation Consultant serving Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Diego County

Eat Your Veggies:

“Always look to the veggie sides and starters section of the menu first. Choose a few non-starchy veggies to enjoy and a lean protein entree to share.” –Amanda Lemein, adolescent and adult specialist at FEED Nutrition Consulting

“Double up on your veggies. Restaurants do a phenomenal job of preparing vegetables in delicious ways these days. Filling half of your plate with plants provides fiber and important phytonutrients, while helping you to feel full. You may also find a new favorite way to prepare a veggie at home.” –Angie Dye, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

“Make sure your meal includes vegetables! Start with a small salad or add a green vegetable side to what you planned to order and eat that first. Vegetables are full of nutrients and fiber, which will fill you up and help you avoid overeating.” –Kristin Houts, digestive health specialist at FEED Nutrition Consulting

Be Mindful and Enjoy the Experience:

“Do not leave mindful eating at the door when you enter a restaurant. Control portions by ordering appetizer-size dishes and sharing meals with your company. Eat slowly by savoring the food and chewing your food well.” –Vicki Shanta Retelny, The Lifestyle Nutritionist

“When eating out with a group, ordering several shared plates is a great way to try a lot of what a restaurant has to offer and avoid overeating while indulging in a few splurges alongside more nutritious dishes.” –Kimberly Novotny, Chicago-based dietitian and fitness professional

“Mindful eating isn’t just for at-home meals – it applies to dining out, too! Tune into your hunger, and ask yourself what food sounds good and order accordingly. When the food arrives, take your time enjoying its visual appeal, aroma and taste. Pause between bites for conversation and soaking in the dining experience. Check in with your fullness cues and when you’re comfortably full, put down the fork and ask for a to-go box if you have food left. Dining out should be a guilt-free and fun experience!” –Taylor Wolfram, vegan, non-diet dietitian who believes in the power of self-care

Need more help with following healthy habits while dining out? Book an appointment with a FEED dietitian today!

Kristin Houts MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in digestive health issues, modified diets due to food intolerance, and is an expert in the Low-FODMAP diet. Follow along as she documents her own experience living with dietary restrictions on her Instagram, @KristinHouts_RD.