What to Eat When You Need to Eat Out

What to Eat When You Need to Eat Out (2) You’re healthy. You’re disciplined. But try as you might, you’ll face the inevitable. You’ll end up eating out. After all, this is America. Our economy thrives on quick-serve restaurants. And as a patriot, you’ll give them your business. Then again, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, just as long as you do so intelligently.

To ensure you make healthy choices when you go to the myriad fast-food joints in Anytown, USA, take a look at this list. I compiled it so the next time the cashier asks, “You want fries with that?” you’ll have the know-how to make smarter decisions.

Diners

  • Think green. If you order an omelet, load it with veggies. Spinach, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, and avocado are some favorites. And no cheese.  I repeat, NO CHEESE!
  • Replace toast and hashbrowns with fruit.  
  • Go ahead and splurge on that burger with bacon, avocado, and/or a fried egg. But again, NO CHEESE. Be sure to ask your server to leave the bun (trust me, you look weird separating the bun from the bread at the table). Add a side salad or steamed veggies instead of French fries.
  • Grilled chicken is always a good bet. If you go with a sandwich, follow the same rules as the burger.

Mariano’s / Whole Foods (or any grocery store that has pre-made food)

  • You can never go wrong with a salad with grilled chicken, veggies, avocado, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Grab two hard-boiled eggs and add in some almonds, carrot sticks and apple slices for a balanced meal.
  • Rotisserie chicken is a delicious and healthy option.
  • Grilled chicken, pork, or fish is best with some veggies.
  • Deli meats—eat them plain or with some mustard. Add spinach and avocado for some depth of flavor. Carrot sticks and snap peas add some texture.
  • Lara Bars are a good snack, better than the other options which are basically a candy par with protein.

Chipotle

Let’s face it, you’ll end up here. You secretly want to end up here.

  • Order a burrito bowl with double meat, veggies, and guacamole. It might not be what you’re used to, but the veggies and guac make it a pretty tasty dish.
  • And don’t forget to avoid tortillas, taco shells, rice, beans, sour cream, and cheese. Holy cow are these terrible for you.

Jimmy Johns

  • Go with Unwich. That’ simply a sandwich with a lettuce wrap instead of bread. Double the meat and add as many veggies as you want.  

Panera / Potbelly’s

  • You might’ve picked up on the no-bread theme already, so I’m sure you can guess what I recommend for these sandwich-based establishments.
  • That’s right, salads with extra meat. Be sure to avoid cream-based dressings, cheese, croutons, and tortilla strips.

Starbucks

  • Mixed nuts are always a good snack.
  • Fruit cups or bananas, obviously.
  • Oh, and some of the bars at the register are quite good for you. Just be sure to check out their ingredients.
  • Salads are always acceptable. But make sure you follow the same rules as above (i.e. no bread products, no cheese, balsamic dressing, etc.)

7-Eleven, Walgreens, Target, and *sigh* gas stations

  • Look for pre-packaged almonds or mixed nuts.
  • Fruit. The fresh kind.
  • Beef jerky, believe it or not, is a great choice. Orberto and Krave are typically the best options, but try to find something with the least amount of ingredients.
  • Deli meat, but as you might’ve guessed, NO BREAD OR CHEESE.

I really hope you take these into consideration the next time you’re out and about and looking for a quick bite. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with quick, cheap bites as long as you’re smart about it.

Happy, healthy eating.