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How to Dine Out

Restaurants Shouldn't Ruin Your Nutrition Plans...

March is National Nutrition Month, so I thought I would touch on the topic of dining out. One of my favorite things is good food at home and good food when I choose to dine out.  I am a bonafide foodie for sure and truly enjoy going out and trying new non-chain, local restaurants. Nashville is really becoming a place with many great local, farm-to-table types of establishments, and I love it!

No matter the establishment or type of restaurant you choose to dine, there are some helpful tips that are worth mentioning. Next time you're taking the family out to dinner, employ these super simple tips, hints and tricks to ensure you get the best food for your buck.

Don't Let the Menu Decide for You.

Plan what you are going to eat before you get there. Many restaurants have their menus online so it is easy to look at the menu before you go out to eat. You’re more likely to make healthy choices when you’re not starving. Choose foods that say “baked,” “steamed,” or “broiled.” Avoid fried foods and dishes with heavy cream-based sauces.

You're Allergic, not Picky.

Attribute special requests to allergies rather than being picky—especially if you become self-conscious while asking questions. You may not have been diagnosed specifically with the condition but at the cellular level, we are all allergic to sugar and bad fats found in many sauces -or "allergic" to many typically prepared entrees "as is" on the menu.

Most restaurants are more accommodating to special requests, and especially to customers with special health concerns and conditions -which, in my opinion, should be everyone's concern so that it doesn't become a condition. Don't be afraid to ask to leave something off or change are just "allergic"...wink, wink ;)

Don't be afraid to ask for them to hold off something or add something that would be to your health advantage - even if it isn't that way on the menu. I even try to make sure my fish is from wild caught (not farmed raised) sources and the beef is from grass-fed sources.

Hunt for Healthier Sides.

Scan the menu. If something like asparagus appears somewhere on the menu but is not included with the item you are ordering, ask to substitute it for something else. It's worth the extra charge, if there is one.

Believe it's not Butter.

Ask if they use margarine or butter. Many large chains restaurants mistakenly think they are one and the same. The same misunderstanding applies to canola oil versus olive oil. With rising food costs, restaurants often use the cheapest options, which are not healthy fats like real butter and olive oil. When ordering a salad, not only do I ask for the dressing on the side, but I typically will just order plain olive oil on the side as my choice of salad dressing or dip.

Ditch the Kids Menu.

Have children order off the adult menu, and then have them share. Typically, there is nothing healthy on a children's menu.

Keep portion sizes in check

Learn what makes a healthy portion size. That might mean pulling out a measuring cup at home to see how big your favorite plate or bowl is. Wait a few minutes after you’ve finished your serving to let your brain register that you’re full. If you’re still hungry, you can always go back for more. But being more aware of portions will help you when you dine out. Most restaurants pile it up big here in 'Merica. Just be aware.

Drink up

Ditch the sugary sodas and juices for water or other low-calorie, low-sugar options. The calories in liquids don’t tell our brains we’ve eaten, and those calories add up quickly. Try adding citrus or herbs like mint or basil to a glass of sparkling water to mix things up a bit.

Be active

No amount of healthy eating can beat a couch potato lifestyle. Get up and get moving — walk, run, play basketball, bike, take a hike — anything that gets you physically active and contributes to having fun. If you have a "cheat" day or meal, make up for it with more activity. Get moving!

Yours in Health,


Dr. David R. Mason, D.C.

Be Fit. Eat Right. Think Well. Get adjusted.



1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

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