We all have to eat out occasionally. Whether it be grabbing a quick lunch on the go or heading out to a restaurant with family and friends, eating out is almost unavoidable.
If you are trying to eat healthy, eating out may seem like a death sentence, but it doesn't have to be! It is possible to order something that won't throw you off your diet and will taste delicious at the same time.
So to help you along on your healthy journey, I reached out to five local dieticians, nutritionists, and health coaches to share where and what they eat when they eat out. (PS. it all sounds amazing!)
"My favorite restaurant to grab a meal is Panera (everyone who knows me, knows that I love Panera, *sigh*, it's a real serious obsession). I always get a Frontega Chicken Panini, sometimes I go for the half sandwich with a salad, apple and a glass of water, or a whole sandwich, it just depends on my mood. The amazing ingredients that make up this panini include smoked, pulled chicken raised (without antibiotics), mozzarella, tomatoes, red onions, chopped basil and chipotle mayo all grilled on Focaccia bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. yummm!"
"Slipstream - I get an almond cashew milk cortado ... and sometimes the breakfast bowl with more greens and no rice. I also love Rasika West End. I love so many items on the menu but my go-to's are the salmon tandoori, the okra side, the cauliflower side, and the lentils or the uttapam (lentil pancake). I may also get a Tito's and soda in a rocks glass with a lime."
"To be completely honest, my favorite place to eat out at is Chipotle. I like how when dining there, YOU are in complete control of your meal. I typically eat high protein, high healthy fat, and lower carbohydrate meals, so at Chipotle I will usually grab a burrito bowl that consists of: A small scoop of black beans, extra fajitas, half steak half chicken, a heaping scoop of pico de gallo, a sprinkle of cheese, and sometimes a side of guacamole (to add a bit to my bowl and enjoy the rest the next day as a snack). This puts me at around 350-400 calories, 40 grams of protein, and 7-8 grams dietary fiber."
"You might find it surprising that a dietitian’s favorite restaurant is one best known for Neapolitan pizza (my favorite is the Sausage and “Friarellli” topped with a generous helping of bitter greens, a flavor missing from the typical American palate). However, what I appreciate most about Etto is their consistent offering of flavorful and thoughtfully combined vegetable dishes. I usually start with the Watercress Caesar which is not only packed with flavor but is an excellent source of vitamins C and K. The Romanesco Cauliflower frequently makes it onto my plate, as does the Octopus and Gigante Beans. If I’m in the mood for something hot, the Sausage and Lentils is what I order; I have never had a tastier legume! While I do not usually order dessert, I make an exception at Etto. The fresh, seasonal tarts are just sweet enough to satisfy. And it’s not just about the food. The physical space, warm and welcoming with a neighborhood feel and relaxed vibe, allows for good conversation and proper digestion."
"We have the most delicious Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood, my go-to for casual dining out. I mean who doesn’t love margaritas and chips and salsa? But the big question is how to enjoy it without completely blowing the week and your waist up. Here are my hacks for guilt free dining out at Taqueria Poblano in Del Ray, Alexandria."
- Order blanco tequila on the rocks with 2 limes or a skinny margarita: Margaritas are notorious sugar bombs and liquid calories are easily avoidable. By cutting back on the sugar you also minimize the morning after blues. Sometimes I just get the fresh limeade unsweetened.
- Go for the guacamole and salsa: Skip the chips, they are deliciously addictive but sliced jicama is crunchy, satisfying, has literally zero calories and lots of healthy fiber. Jicama, carrots, celery or cucumbers are all great ways to cheat the carbohydrate system and enjoy the guacamole and salsa.
- Get the fajitas or any grilled meat or fish: Skip the burritos,nachos, taquitos, bean and rice bowls and opt for tasty grilled meats. Ask for black beans or salsa fresca on the side instead of rice and skip the flour tortillas.
- Eat the veggie sides: Onions and grilled peppers are savory and flavorful, even topped with cheese they are still ok to enjoy. It's the carbohydrates that turn into sugar in your body that get you in trouble. Skipping the chips, tortillas and rice let you still enjoy the nutritionally best parts of the meal.