Eating Out: Your Best Bets

**Bonus Tips for weight loss surgery clients

You pull up to a fast-food restaurant. Are you prepared to order a healthy meal by remembering your goals (optimal performance and optimal health)? Restaurants can become a roadblock to your nutrition goals. However, with a little planning and some specific requests, fast food can become healthy food.

The best way is to prepare your food yourself. Use foods with the least amount of processing. Choose foods with nutrients to sustain health and energy.

When you cannot prepare your own food, remember these guidelines:

  • Stay away from the fryer; choose a salad, fruit, or baked potato as your side. Bonus Tip: skip the potato as well
  • Go grilled
  • Remove the skin from chicken and turkey
  • Hold the mayonnaise, full-fat salad dressing, sour cream, and the “special sauces”
  • Remember that many restaurant foods are high in sodium, even if they are low in calories or fat
  • Choose smaller portions and do not “supersize”
  • Choose water as your beverage

Burgers and Sandwiches

  • Bonus Tip: ask for “protein style” or wrapped in lettuce minus the bun, wrap or bread.
  • Opt for a small hamburger with one meat patty
  • Choose a grilled chicken sandwich
  • Select a roast beef, turkey, or ham sandwich with no mayonnaise
  • Ask for a veggie burger with no mayonnaise


  • Order a bean and cheese burrito, light on the cheese. Bonus Tip: Eat the inside of the burrito, not the tortilla
  • Choose chicken fajitas; limit sour cream
  • Opt for small tacos, burritos, or enchiladas rather than the large-sized ones


  • Choose a small salad with reduced-fat dressing  Bonus Tip: if the eatery does not have low-fat dressing, ask for it on the side and dip your fork in the dressing before each bite.
  • Look for salads that contain grilled chicken or lean beef
  • Avoid salads loaded with cheese or bacon


  • Choose a thin-crust veggie, Hawaiian, or cheese pizza
  • Ask for whole-wheat crust, if available
  • Ask for grilled chicken or steak, if desired and available
  • Avoid breadsticks—order a salad with low-fat dressing instead


Contributed by Megan Mangano, RD, CSSD. Adapted with permission from the Athletes’ Performance Nutrition Team,, and

Updated by Staff, Review Date: 5/26/15
Bonus Tips provided by Joey Sjostrom, RD, LDN    Date: 10/13/16