How to Navigate a Restaurant Menu

Dana Kofsky, founder of Wellness Styled, is a lifestyle, nutrition, and corporate wellness expert. She embodies a rich and healthy lifestyle, and works with others to do the same. She tailors her approach to healthy living, eating, and travel. Today she’s sharing her top tips for navigating complicated restaurant menus to fit your healthy lifestyle goals. 

The Body Book - Cameron Diaz

I love going out to eat, and I’ve definitely found a few favorite restaurants that I visit time and time again! Visiting a new restaurant when you’re trying to stick to your wellness goals can be daunting, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be navigating new restaurant menus like a pro in no time!

Be Prepared

The first thing I do (if I know in advance where I’m going) is to take a sneak peek at their online menu to see what options are available. I like to go in with a plan, so it’s easier to order when I’m there! Always allow yourself to change your mind once you get there and look at the menu again – there may be seasonal specials or new dishes that you want to try. Flexibility is key, but having a starting plan takes away some of the stress!

Once you’ve analyzed the menu, look for some form of protein and vegetable combination. It’s my go-to when eating out for so many reasons!

Go Green

Secondly, always try to get your greens in. For example, if you want a piece of salmon and cauliflower, make sure your second veggie is green.

Key words to look for are grilled, roasted, sautéed, or steamed. I find these to be the most simple preparations of most dishes!

Be Flexible

If you can’t find exactly what you want on the menu, don’t be afraid to modify existing dishes based on your preferences! Many people feel bad about requesting changes or modifications to existing items on the menu, but it’s all about how you ask. Just ask nicely, and the staff will most likely want to make you what you want!

If none of the existing dishes on the menu fit what you’re looking for, start looking at individual items! If you can find the items on the menu that you DO want, the staff can usually custom design something for you. For example, you can ask for the grilled salmon from one entree, and the sautéed veggies from another.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask (Remember to be nice!)

When ordering, ask your server how each dish is prepared. Many restaurants won’t list every ingredient on the menu, and with so many food allergies nowadays, it’s important to know what goes in to your food. My go-to line is “tell me about this item,” before I commit. For example, I love sautéed vegetables, but I always want to make sure they’re sautéed in olive oil versus butter!

The Body Book - Cameron Diaz
Enjoy Yourself

Lastly, just do the best you can! Not every meal will be perfect, and your main focus should be on enjoying yourself and your company, instead of stressing out about the menu.

If you come from a place of eating right for your body, you will always win! I personally eat out 6 days per week, and I love it. Oftentimes, people see eating out as an opportunity to overindulge, but I like to think of it as an opportunity to feel good. Choose the optimal foods for your and your body; Food becomes your fuel and clean, healthy food can taste great. It’s all perspective! It’s great to be out in the world, surround yourself with great company, focus on your environment, indulge in amazing conversation, and find pure pleasure in eating to feel your best.

Thank you, Dana! Now who’s ready to dine out?

If you’re looking for more ways to meet your wellness goals, check out our article on Staying Healthy in the Office World.

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