5 Tips to Help You Eat More Plants While Dining Out

Eating plant-based meals outside of the comfort of your kitchen can prove to be difficult. Restaurants, with their platters of cheesy filled pizza crusts and colossal-sized steaks and hamburgers, can derail even the most well-intentioned eaters.

The secret to managing meals in restaurants without surrendering your health goals is all in the planning. Try these simple tips during your next restaurant visit to keep you on the plant-powered path:

More: 8 Tips for Eating Out More Healthfully

1. Prep ahead of time: Visit the restaurant website before your dining experience. Scroll through the menu so you can make a plan of attack. Some websites even provide the nutritional information of their dishes. If so, browse through the nutritional facts before you leave the house.

2. Don't order on an empty stomach: Just as shopping at the supermarket while starving can give you "grocery goggles," restaurant dining on an empty stomach can also be a trap. Eat a piece of high-fiber fruit, such as an apple, pear or berries, before heading to the restaurant to take the edge off your hunger.

3. Pass on the starters: The breadbasket and chips, while seemingly appealing at first, can add an extra 150 calories per serving and fill you up even before your meal arrives. As a rule of thumb, ask the wait staff to serve you a single portion of bread or chips on your appetizer plate or simply decline it altogether.

More: 16 Ways to Cut Calories and Lose Weight

4. Load up on veggies: Instead of ordering a high-fat, starchy side-dish with your meal, such as French fries or mashed potatoes, pile on the steamed veggies or simply order a side salad.

5. Skip the extras: Sauces and condiments can make a huge difference in the nutrition profile of your meal. Extras such as sour cream, cheese, tartar sauce or Hollandaise sauce pack on the saturated fat, calories and sodium. If you really want a taste of that special sauce, ask for it on the side.

More: 10 Chain-Restaurant Foods Recommended by Sports Nutritionists

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About the Author

Sharon Palmer

Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 750 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today's Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon makes her home with her husband and two sons in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles.
Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 750 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today's Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon makes her home with her husband and two sons in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles.

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