How to Eat Healthy at Restaurants

Updated: April 30, 2020

People looking at menu in restaurant

Here in Vancouver, we have a terrific selection of restaurants to choose from. That’s one of the great benefits of living in a multicultural city.

Whether it’s a regular outing or a special occasion, I really enjoy good food. And if I’m traveling or trying a new restaurant, there are some ‘rules’ I follow.

Without further ado, here they are!

6 Ways to Eat Bone-Healthy at Restaurants

1. Check The Menu Before You Go. I follow a predominantly paleo diet and my wife Viv has some restrictions due to her hypothyroidism. So we always check the online menu before going out. This gives us the chance to see what options we’ll have – and the ability to go somewhere else if we can’t get what we want. Taking a few minutes to prep like this can make all the difference in being satisfied and happy with your meal.

Water being poured into glass

2. Avoid Soda – Stick To Water. Soda consumption is associated with increased body weight and a decrease in intakes of calcium and other nutrients.¹ Cola in particular, is associated with lower bone mineral density in older women.² I know, water can be boring sometimes. So add a slice of lemon or lime for some flavor. Citrus fruits contain citrus flavonoids that can improve digestion and suppress appetite.³ They also contain vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and helps protect your cells from free radical damage.⁵ 

3. Make a Healthy Swap. Most people aren’t consuming enough veggies! ³ Instead of having fries or potatoes with your meal, ask if you can opt for veggies instead or add an extra serving. Steamed broccoli, kale, carrots, cauliflower etc. are low in calories and high in fiber and bone-boosting minerals.

Grilled Salmon and Vegetables

4. Choose Fish. Seafood is a great choice when eating out. Order omega-3 rich wild salmon or mackerel, which also contain significant amounts of protein.⁶ Inflammation is one of the culprits behind conditions such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and dementia. Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA help ease that inflammation so choose these dietary options. Along with a high-quality fish oil this will give you your daily 2.6 grams RDI of EPA and DHA.

5. Ask For It On The Side Or Not At All. Especially when it comes to sauces or dressings. For instance, when I order a salad I always ask for the dressing on the side. Restaurants tend to be heavy handed, which increases calorie intake and takes away from what should be the star of the dish – the greens. Plus, unless you’ve been there before, you never know what it may taste like. I like to be safe and order these things on the side – or not at all.

No Dessert

6. Skip Dessert. This one can be hard! But I’ve found that I usually don’t need that much to satisfy my sweet tooth and restaurant portions are way too big. They’re also loaded with refined sugars, oils and fats that promote inflammation. If you do need something sweet, wait until you get home and have a piece of small dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is loaded with polyphenols that function as antioxidants and research has shown that eating dark chocolate may reduce stress hormones. But don’t go crazy! A square or two will do.

Plus, my general diet bonus tip…

7. Be Flexible. Food should be a positive experience. There will (and should) be times where you eat for pleasure instead of health. Studies have actually shown that being flexible with your diet is associated with better weight management and overall health.⁸ So take this into consideration and think about your diet as a whole – one little indulgence from time to time is ok!

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  1. Georgiana

    October 28, 2016 , 7:18 am


This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,
Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Dr. Carole McArthur
MD, PhD - Professor of Immunology, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Residency Research in Pathology, Truman Medical Center.,