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Tips for making healthier choices when eating out

When eating out, choose vegetables, fruit and whole grains more often. Choose foods that are boiled, steamed, baked, roasted or grilled rather than deep-fried.  Try and limit sugar, fat and sodium by following the tips below. It is important to consider vegetables and fruit when eating out, since many meals at restaurants do not contain a significant amount of vegetables and fruit.  Ask for a side order of vegetables, and exchange French fries for a salad.  Avoid having cream sauces, creamy salad dressings and sugary desserts. Choose whole grain over white grain choices when possible. Drink water or soda water with your meals to avoid extra calories from sugary or alcoholic beverages.

See tips below for ideas by type of food establishment.


•    Vegetables and fruit for on-the-go snacks
•    Lower-fat cheese and yogurt
•    Unsalted nuts and seeds (if permitted)
•    Crackers (whole grain) and  peanut butter


•    Aim to increase the vegetables in your meal
•    Start with a vegetable soup or salad
•    Make half your plate vegetables (order a double portion of vegetables)
•    Look for items that are steamed, roasted, grilled, stir-fried, baked, barbecued, poached
•    Limit items that are deep fried, pan fried, or battered
•    Order a half portion or plan to take leftovers home (many meals are super-sized and can feed more than one person!)
•    Order a smaller burger (single patty vs. three) or a kids meal
•    Share an entrée with a friend and have a side salad
•    Choose whole grain pizza crust, pasta and bread whenever possible
•    Avoid adding salt at the table 
•    Limit sauces such as creamy salad dressings, soy sauce and ketchup
•    If you are having French fries, ask them to hold the salt

Vending machine

•    Unsalted nuts and seeds
•    Dried fruit
•    Cereal bars (choose whole grain bars and real fruit/nut ingredients)
•    Water or 100% juice
•    Lower fat milk

Coffee shop

•    Use lower fat (skim, 1%, 2%) milk in beverages instead of cream
•    Ask for specialty coffee drinks made with lower fat milk and no whipped topping. Ask for the nutrition information before choosing or check online.
•    Choose a smaller beverage size than normal
•    Have 100% juice, milk or water instead of juice drinks
•    Choose fruit, nuts or yogurt as a side instead of donuts or pastries
•    Check nutrition facts when choosing a muffin or baked good- choose lower fat and sugar and higher fibre options
•    Choose whole grain bagels and toast with peanut butter

Source: Dietitians of Canada and Canadian Diabetes Association
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