Healthy eating out
Check out our tips to help you make healthier choices when eating out at a restaurant or cafe.
Some easy swaps you could try:
- swap pies, bacon and sausages for healthier protein, such as lean cuts of meat, pulses, chicken without the skin, and lean meats like ham or fish (not fried)
- swap cream and cheese sauces for tomato and vegetable sauces
- swap fried rice (such as egg-fried rice) for plain boiled rice
- swap chips and creamy mashed potatoes for baked, boiled or steamed potatoes with their skins on
- swap cakes, chocolate creamy puddings and ice cream for fruit salads or other fruit-based desserts and lower-fat, lower-sugar yoghurts
- swap vegetables served with butter, oily dressings or mayonnaise for steamed vegetables served plain
- swap alcohol or a fizzy drink for a glass of still or sparkling water mixed with some fruit juice – remember, even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so limit yourself to 150ml of fruit juice or smoothies each day (drinking fruit juice with a meal or diluting it with water can reduce the impact it has on your teeth)
For more healthy eating tips, check out the Eatwell Guide.
Tips when ordering dessert:
- share one dessert between two
- swap cream or chocolate desserts for fruit-based desserts, such as apple crumble
Instead of having ice cream or cream with your dessert, ask for fruit purée or plain yoghurt.
Healthy lunch on the go
- avoid salads prepared with mayonnaise or covered in oily dressings – examples include coleslaw, potato salads and some pasta salads
- check the calories and the fat, sugar and salt on the nutrition label of pre-packed salads
- choose salads with dressings sold separately so you can control how much you eat
Learn more about food labels.
- choose brown, wholemeal or higher-fibre breads
- check the calories and the fat, sugar and salt on the nutrition label of pre-packed sandwiches
- you may not need to use butter, spread or mayonnaise if your choice of sandwich filling is moist
- bulk up your sandwich with vegetables, like tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber
- healthier sandwich fillings include turkey, chicken, tuna, seafood (such as prawn and crayfish), avocado, reduced-fat hummus and a hard-boiled egg
- lower-fat cheeses include edam, emmental, gruyère, mozzarella and lower-fat cream cheese
- with sandwich meal deals, choose water and fruit or yoghurt if they're available, rather than sugary drinks and crisps
Hot food tips:
- healthier fillings for baked potatoes include baked beans, cottage cheese, tuna and sweetcorn, vegetarian chilli con carne and ratatouille – avoid adding butter or sour cream, which are high in fat and calories, and be wary of ready-mixed fillings, which can be high in fat and salt
- with pasta, opt for tomato or vegetable-based sauces, which count towards your 5 A Day and are lower in calories and fat than cheese- and cream-based sauces, and avoid adding cheese to your pasta
- go for soups with chunky vegetables – have it with a wholemeal bread roll to make it a filling meal (check out our vegetable soup recipe if you want something to make at home and take to work)
Page last reviewed: 31 October 2017
Next review due: 31 October 2020