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Lose the Freshman 15: Tips for Healthy Eating at Restaurants

Happy Friday collegiettes!  Another stressful week in the books.  With schoolwork picking up, it’s important to leave time for fun activities and relaxation.  My college offers a program called Take Your Professor Out (TYPO), where they provide funding for students to treat their professors to a meal.  This past Thursday I had a chance to get off campus to go on a TYPO with two of my professors and two of my fellow classmates.  It was an awesome opportunity to have conversations with them outside the classroom and eat a meal outside of the dining hall.

Eating at a restaurant can be a challenge when you’re on a diet!  Here are some tips to ensure that you can still make healthy choices:

  • Think ahead– If you know you’re going out to dinner one night, plan your meals and snacking throughout the day accordingly.  Do NOT skip meals or starve yourself because not only is that a dangerous habit but it will only make you hungrier, which may cause you to overeat at dinner.  Definitely consider eating a lighter lunch in order to conserve calories for your dinner though! 
  • Look up the restaurant before you go– Many restaurants have their menus available online in addition to nutritional info!  In this case, I find it easier to pick out what I want to eat ahead of time in order to avoid the temptations of other less healthy options.  Make sure you stick to your choice once you get there!  It may be best to not even open the menu, so you are less likely to be swayed.
  • Drink only water– Don’t waste your precious calories on sugary drinks, such as soda or other fruity beverages.  Studies show that cutting soda out of your diet is a benefical decision for your general health as well.
  • Substitute when you can– Don’t be afraid to try and switch up aspects of your dish!  For example, if your meal comes with a side of fries, see if you can substitute them for a side salad or grilled vegetables.
  • SHARE!–  Consider splitting an larger dish with a friend.  Another way to reduce the total amount of food is to only ask for half of an entrée to be brought out and save the other half for tomorrow!  
  • Ask your server– Don’t be afraid to ask your servers a few questions regarding the food, such as how it is cooked, what ingredients are used, what some healthy menu options are, etc.
  • Have it your way!– Request to have your food prepared in a more healthy way.  For example, grilled chicken instead of fried chicken.
  • Skip the starters– Though the bread basket while you wait for your food is usually extremely satisfying (Trust me, I know), it is a better decision to save your appetite for your meal.  On average, a piece of bread has 100 calories, which can add up pretty quickly.
  • Dressing on the side– Ask to have any dressings or sauces on the side.  Many restaurants typically put way too much dressing and sauce on their dishes, so this way you can control how much you want.

This list is only some of the ways you can remain on track at restaurants.  What are some of your favorite ways to stay on your diet when you go out?  The SELF Drop 10 diet has some great options at healthy places such as Panera and Subway.  I went to Panera with my friends, Amanda and Liz, and I ordered the Swift Salad and Sandwich off the SELF Drop 10.  1/2 classic salad and 1/2 Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich– sooooo good!!!

Hope you all have a great weekend!  


Nicole Yang is an Editorial Intern at Her Campus.  Before joining the team at HC, she previously was the Managing Editor of her college's weekly newspaper, The Amherst Student.  While at Amherst College, Nicole was also a tour guide and a member of the women's varsity squash team.  Her professional experience includes working as a Communications Intern for Comcast and Monster, and her work has been published by Fast Company, Fortune, and The Sports Quotient.  Follow her on Twitter.