What Nutrition Pros Eat When Eating Out

Person eating burgerWe contributed to a Huffington Post article yesterday, written by Emma Gray, about what to eat when eating out.  She interviewed us about what we actually do ourselves.  Since we’re used to divulging our dirtiest diet secrets to the world–or at least to anyone reading this blog–we jumped in with how we navigate all the ways to eat well when eating out.

Since it’s the time of year when you may be traveling on vacation or if eating out is part of your week,  here’s what we do when we’re at a burger joint, convenience store, ice cream parlor and other places you may not expect to find your friendly dietitian.


 Burger Joint

Order a regular burger or grilled chicken sandwich.  At my favorite burger joint, In-N-Out Burgers in CA, I’ll go with lettuce instead of a bun and order two single patties.   I then pile on tomato slices and pickles, mustard and ketchup.  Watch special sauces as special is just a euphymism for extra calories.–Julie

ice Cream shop varietiesIce Cream Shop

I order  a kid size or one-scoop serving of a more traditional flavor like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.  If you go with more “exotic” flavors like anything considered  fudgy, chunky, nutty, rocky equals more fat and calories.
Opt for a kiddie cone — less ice cream can fit into a small cone than a cup — and cones have hardly any calories, as long as they’re not huge waffle cones. If you like frozen yogurt or sorbet, go for it, as they are generally going to be lower in calories than hand-scooped ice cream.  Also, the soft-serve will be a better calorie bargain that hand-scooped. –Julie
If I’m at an ice cream shop, I’m having ice cream! Try not to have an ice cream treat more than once every couple of weeks … even less if you are aiming to lose weight. When you do go, stick with one scoop in a regular-sized cone. And make sure you savor the experience! Skip the sundaes and heavy toppings. My favorite: Mint Choco Chip!!–Katherine

Pizza Parlor

-Go with just one slice with veggie-only toppings. Order a side salad to fill up (dressing on the side) instead of having two or three slices of pizza.–Katherine

– I always downsize the size of the pie and then order a thin-crust.  A thin-crust can save about 100 calories a slice compared to a deep-dish pie.  For toppings, I always ask for double the veggies and half the cheese. –Julie

Rest area signC-Stores and Rest Stops

-Look for a national chain that has healthier fare. Starbucks is great. I go for their Bistro Boxes or just get a tall non-fat latte. –Katherine
-At rest stops and C-stores I always go for the single-serve bags of peanuts, cashews or sunflower seeds.  If they have containers of yogurt, I’ll get one of those as well. I look for snacks that have protein and fiber to keep me fuller longer. –Julie
For more ideas, check out the full article.



  1. Beth M. says

    Great article and Great Tips! I love the idea of asking for more veggies and half the cheese on a pizza. I recently found a place nearby that sells the most delicious vegan pizza, but its so easy to down an entire personal pan. They use daiya cheese, which is a healthier vegan alternative to cheese, but it’s still just as fatty. I’m going to def use that tip next time I eat there (along with buying a salad) :)

  2. Pauline Longchamp says

    all of these suggestions are helpful and very unique, especially the lettuce tip at the burger place

  3. Tamara K. says

    I have an allergy to dairy. I get lettuce wrapped burgers all the time at Red Robin’s Restaurant. It is not a problem for them. In fact they suggested it, when I told them I couldn’t have the bun.

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