Step 1: You are here to have an enjoyable and nourishing meal. Do not get too hung up on what you should not eat (unless you have an allergy) or cannot have. It is possible to put together a delicious and healthy meal. Cravings can be satisfied without the need to over-indulge. If you have access to the menu before hand (e.g. from a restaurant website), do take a look and note what tickles your fancy and what else to pair it with for a wholesome and healthful meal. Remember that one meal does not make or break a healthy lifestyle. Consider how you can balance your meal with what you will eat in the next few days.

Step 2: Healthy Pickins. Among all the items that suit your fancy…pick at least one-menu item that seems inherently healthier for you. For example: Roasted Vegetable Wrap, Roasted Veggie Penne, or Vegetable Soup.

However, if the dining establishment does not seemingly have any healthy options that would satiate your cravings… don't get discouraged and give up your quest. Commit to something. We can generally make things a little or lot healthier by asking for simple modifications or substitutions when ordering.

Alternatively, when ordering something indulgent, pair it with something healthier. For example: ordering a burger with side of fresh vegetables prepared with no added sauce or salt, or house salad.

Step 3: Ask, and ask more. There are 1001 ways to add the extra cream, butter, oils, fats, and salt to foods. Why? Because, fat and salt contributes to a tastier, flakier, and tender, product. Don’t assume it is a healthy preparation because it sounds like that on the menu or that the main ingredient is naturally healthy. Ask the server how it is prepared or find a listing of ingredients. Check out UNO’s Nutritional Kiosk and Website for the latest and greatest nutritional information. Don’t be bashful. Perseverance will pay short and long term dividends.

Step 4: Building a better mouse-trap.
Ask and you shall receive. Any good restaurant will accommodate requests.
If your goal is to reduce fat, calories, cholesterol:
  • For toppings or stuffings - request little or no cheese, added butter, or pesto
  • Ask for steamed or baked (plain or spiced ..but no added oils)
  • Ask for sauce or salad dressing on the side (use sparingly), ask for less sauce added to food.
  • Ask for broiled not fried (no butter or extra oils)
  • Order without crunchy fried noodles/toppings/croutons/nuts
  • Forgo mashed foods (unless you are sure about preparation)
  • Opt for leaner cuts of meat: white poultry, fish OR ask for smaller portions of meat: beef & pork
  • When your meal is served, eye-ball how much half of it is, and eat only half of what is served. Most likely you will still be very satisfied.
  • If your goal is to reduce your salt intake: Be careful and question everything
  • If the restaurant provides nutrition information, check out the sodium content of menu items before hand to guide your choice.
  • Ask the server if they have low sodium menu items that are not mentioned on menu, or if menu items can be prepared with less salt or salty ingredients.
  • Select fish entrees; meats/poultry are generally are pumped with a salt solution to enhance tenderness and flavor.
  • Ask for steamed/baked/grilled (plain); typically seasonings will have tons of salt.
  • Soups/sauces/condiments, fermented/brined, processed foods, and cheeses are typically loaded with sodium. Eat sparingly.
  • Bring along a salt-free herbal blend (like Mrs. Dash) to use on foods.

  • Step #5: Out of Sight. Out of Mouth. If you know the food portions are generous and temptation will make it difficult for you to avert your attention away from the handful of french fries and the quarter of sandwich left on the plate… ask your server to package half your order "to go" when you place your original order. It's like two meals for the price of one!