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7 Nutrient-Packed Restaurants for Healthy Eating Out

Updated: Apr 29

By Erica F Perusse, BS

Restaurant table with 2 wine glasses and a booth
Healthy eating is possible anywhere!

Craving a night out but worried about sticking to your nutritional goals? Fear not! We've scoured some of the best healthy eating restaurants for nutrient-packed dining out and compiled tips to help you make healthier choices without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction.

Let's begin this blog by defining one word: "healthy." Healthy depends on what your body needs and doesn't need so that you can live a long life filled with things you enjoy. You will see this word many times throughout the blog, and this is what we mean. Being healthy is not about restricting or omitting any one food group. It is about being aware and knowledgeable about what your body needs to reach your desired goals.

Onto the good stuff! Are you wondering where to find healthy eating restaurants offering nutrient-packed meals? You'll be pleased to know that many restaurants have nutritious and delicious options. To help you make the best choice, follow these tips to select a meal packed with nutrients and flavor confidently.

Tip #1: Master Menu Lingo: Learning how to navigate restaurant menus effectively helps you identify healthier options and avoid dishes that might leave you feeling bloated or overly full. By understanding menu descriptions and making informed selections, you can confidently choose meals that align with your dietary needs and preferences.

Tip #2: Honor Your Cravings: Have you ever picked a "salad and grilled protein" just because you felt you had to for a healthy lifestyle? Let's face it, that's not sustainable. You might end up munching on extra appetizers or menu items to satisfy the cravings you originally had. Sound familiar? So take a moment before you order or even go to the restaurant to ask yourself, "What am I in the mood for?"

Now, it's time to explore some restaurant options and decide what to eat!

Outback Steakhouse or Roadhouse

Steakhouses are known for sizzling, juicy cuts of meat that'll make your taste buds dance. Often, there are unlimited types of bread with tasty butter options to spread. Not to mention the abundance of specials that include fried or sauced-up appetizers and sides. Fear not, you can still enjoy these restaurants and reach your goals. When looking at the menu, choose lean cuts of meat like sirloin or grilled chicken and pair them with steamed veggies or a side salad. When those delightful breads hit the table, go ahead and grab yourself one, put it on the little plate, and save it for the meal itself! You don't have to skip the butter; just pay attention to serving sizes and PCC. Your choice! Don't forget to ask for a to-go box because you don't have to be a part of the "clean plate" club!

Cafes and Bodegas

Cafes can be a treasure trove of nutritious options with appropriate serving sizes. Look for dishes featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients like salads with mixed greens, grilled veggies, and lean proteins. Don't be afraid to customize your order by asking to put the dressing on the side, swapping out a side for fruit or veg you would prefer, or even adding something to your dish. The goal is to look at the entire meal as a PCC plate, including your sweet treat.

Greek or Mediterranean Restaurants

Greek and Mediterranean cuisine are known for their emphasis on fresh ingredients and heart-healthy fats. Choose dishes like grilled fish or chicken, hummus with veggies for dipping, and tabbouleh salad for a nutritious meal. Opt for olive oil-based dressings and sauces, and enjoy the abundance of flavorful herbs and spices. Don't forget to get in your water, as some dishes may have more salt than others.

CoreLife Eatery or Build your Own Bowl Restaurants

These spots are a haven for health-conscious diners, offering a variety of fresh and nutrient-packed options. Opt for salads loaded with colorful veggies, lean proteins like grilled chicken or tofu, and whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. Be cautious with dressings and toppings, choosing lighter options like vinaigrettes and nuts for added flavor and nutrients.

Italian Dining like Olive Garden or a Local Restaurant

Italian restaurants can be a bit trickier, but you can still enjoy a nutrient-packed Italian meal by understanding what healthy looks like for you and knowing what your PCC plates look like. Look for options like grilled seafood or chicken with marinara sauce, pasta with tomato-based sauces, and a bright side like a hearty salad or even steamed or grilled veg! Don't like having leftovers? Consider asking for lunch-sized portions or sharing an entrée to keep portions in check.

Applebee's or Chili's

These casual dining spots offer a wide range of options, including healthier choices. Opt for grilled proteins like steak, chicken, or shrimp, and pair them with steamed veggies or a side salad with vinaigrette dressing. If foods come with heavy sauces, you can ask for "light" sauce or even see if it can go on the side. Opt for asking for extra vegetables if you choose that "unhealthy" dish. Yes, I said “UNHEALTHY” dish because perfection is not required for you to reach your goals. Adding those extra vegetables will help get you full and sneak in some fiber.

Jersey Mike's, Firehouse Subs or DiBellas

Both of these deli chains offer plenty of nutritious options amidst their hearty sandwich selections. Choose whole grain bread or wraps filled with lean proteins like turkey or grilled chicken, and load up on veggies for added nutrients and fiber. Feel free to ask for a double or extra half portion of protein for your sandwich or spud. Watch portion sizes by opting for half sandwiches or smaller portions.

By making smart choices and being mindful of portion sizes, you can enjoy dining out almost anywhere without derailing your healthy eating efforts. And you know what?! One meal not "aligning" with your goals will not mess up all of your hard work.

Our programs offer a comprehensive approach to addressing obstacles related to dining out while promoting a balanced and sustainable path to nutrition and wellness. By leveraging the resources and support NWE provides, you can feel confident in making healthy choices and enjoying dining out experiences without compromising your health goals.

Healthy lifestyles are really about being flexible, consistent, and being in the moment. Inside the NWE program, we can be a helpful resource for overcoming obstacles related to dining out while maintaining your goals and current lifestyle. We can help with menu navigation guidance, meal planning strategies, specific serving and portion control techniques, nutrition label awareness, support and accountability, and more!

So next time you're craving a meal out, keep these tips in mind and savor every bite, knowing you're nourishing your body with nutrient-packed goodness. And if you are looking for that extra support, check out our 1:1 Coaching Program. Here's to happy and healthy dining adventures!


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