Episode 20 – A simple strategy for picking healthy foods at restaurants

Social health is very important and has many benefits including, relating with others, fostering a support network as well as plain old having fun. Part of socialising is eating out, but eating out can often be difficult especially if you’re trying to keep healthy. In this article, let’s learn about picking healthy foods at restaurants.


1.  Go to a place that’s more likely to sell healthier food

The first thing to look for when choosing foods is to choose an outlet that provides healthy food options. This sounds like common sense but people make funny decisions under stress, hunger, and fatigue. If you going to go to a fast food restaurant, don’t expect to eat healthy. By doing this, you’ve basically cut out or completely reduced your possibility of eating healthy. So, start well by choosing a good healthy restaurant.


What to look for?

Look for the following cuisine options as they are more likely to be healthy:

  • Japanese
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Authentic Italian
  • Greek
  • Thai
  • A health-focused café or restaurant such as a salad cafe or juice bar.


2. Look for the lean meat or vegetarian protein option

It’s a good idea to look at lean meats first (or vegetarian options if you don’t eat meat). The reason you start looking for these is because they usually come with a good healthy accompaniment. The following lean meats are good to look for:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Kangaroo
  • Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, bream, snapper
  • Lamb
  • Duck
  • Wild game meat


So, it’s important to start good. If you don’t, things can quickly escalate in the wrong direction:

  • Burger – it usually comes with fries or onion rings on white bread.
  • Fried chicken – the side accompaniment on the dish is usually deb or fries.
  • Others to watch out for include: crumbed, fried, deep-fried, breaded, battered.


What’s the other two things to look for when picking healthy foods at restaurants? Read on!



3. Get the side salads or vegetables on top of your meal

More often than not the restaurants tend to skimp on the vegetables – which is why you tend to favour the unhealthy options – for the “filling” effect.


If the restaurant is a bit cheap on the vegetables (which they usually are), look to add on some extra side vegetables onto your meal to boost up your vegetable intake and ensure that you get in those extra vitamins and minerals. Choose to have a variety of colours in the vegetables (such as red, yellow, green, purple, orange). This will ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients into your diet.

Also, watch out for how much sauce you use as it’s an easy way to add in extra calories and preservatives / additives (unless it’s genuinely homemade or made from scratch).


4. Choose water or tea as first priority

Always go with water first. It’s the best way to hydrate. If you want something tastier ask them to add in a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, chia seeds (or maybe berries). This will add some taste and also help to balance the osmolarity of the water especially if it was distilled or heavily filtered. The other option is to get some real tea – green or black tea – and have it either hot or cold (ice cubes added). There are no calories, it has a great taste and may contain antioxidants and bioflavonoids. The final option would be fresh juices to get in extra vitamins (not fruit drink or cordial).


5. Full or Satisfied?

There are two ways to beat hunger – one is to “fill up” and the other is through “satisfaction.” If you aim to “fill up” you may not be hitting the nutrients the body needs or desires – you’re simply physically filling up your stomach. Instead, go for satisfaction.


How do you get satisfied?

“Satisfied” should feel like the following:

  • You feel good about the food
  • You’re not necessarily feeling too heavy or bloated
  • The right amount
  • The right types of food
  • More energetic after eating the meal (not tired or sleepy).


Note: when you’re satisfied, you might not need to eat all the food you have on the plate. So, eating healthy is much about your “gut feeling” then it is logic. Follow your satisfaction to help choose healthy foods off the menu.


Dinner is served

These tips will help you be better skilled in picking healthy foods at restaurants. Just take one tip and start, then add in another over time. You got this!


Here are the top four (4) tips to keep in mind:

1. Go to a place that’s more likely to sell healthier food

2. Look for lean meats or vegetarian protein option

3. Get the side salad or vegetables on top of your meal

4. Choose water or tea as first priority

5. Full or satisfied?


Need extra help? 

  • My PURITY Protocol is an amazing resource packed with 6 secrets to detox your life and supercharge your energy. It’s my personal wellbeing philosophy. Check it out here.
  • The First Five Fitness program is a complete 35 day guide to nutrition, mindset, and fitness for beginners and intermediates AND it only takes five minutes blocks to start. Click here for details. 
  • Don’t know what or how to cook and prepare food?! Check out My Meals & Recipes book here. It’s packed with loads of practical, healthy and simple to make breakfast, lunch, dinner options as well as snacks and drinks.
  • Want live coaching? Click here to contact me. I look forward to working with you soon.


Feel free to watch the video!


  • Chek, P. (2009) How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!
  • Duhigg, C. (2012) The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business. Random House
  • Germov, J., Williams, L. (2004) A Sociology of Food & Nutrition: The Social Appetite (2nd Ed.) Oxford.
  • Gropper, S., Smith, J., Groff, J. (2005) Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4th Ed.), Thomson Wadsworth
  • Kahneman, D (2011) Thinking, fast and slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Kausman, R. (2004). If not dieting, then what? Allen & Unwin
  • Williams, T., (2004) This=That: a life-sized photo guide to food serves

Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness.

Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness. International Athlete, Elite Performance Manager for the Philippine Volcanoes rugby teams, qualified Dietitian / Nutritionist and qualified educator. Chris Everingham combines more than 10 years of experience and education together to deliver the best strategies to grow your mindset, rewire your habits and transform your life.


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