7 tips for heart-healthy eating away from home

Published: January, 2013

Heart-healthy eating is easier to do in your own kitchen — where you have full control over the menu, ingredients, and how you prepare the meal — than it is when someone else is doing the cooking. But with these seven tips, you can stay well within your eating plan, even when dining out.

  1. Curb portions. For two people, consider ordering one salad, one appetizer, and one entrée — that will nearly always provide enough food for both of you. When ordering individual meals, set aside some of what is on your plate to bring home for lunch or another dinner.
  2. Resist refined carbohydrates. Just as you would at home, go for whole grains and limit white bread, white rice, and other highly processed starches. If the breadbasket is hard to resist, ask your waitperson to remove it from the table.
  3. Make smart, colorful choices at the salad bar. Load your plate with plenty of colorful vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of lean protein. Skip the creamy and ranch dressings. Low-fat and fat-free dressings often contain a lot of sugar, so use healthy oils with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice instead.
  4. Choose dishes that are grilled, roasted, steamed, or sautéed. This is an easy way to cut down on calories and avoid heart-unfriendly trans fats.
  5. Ask for healthier side dishes. Don't be afraid to request a salad, vegetables, or fruit instead of starchy side dishes.
  6. Take the opportunity to enjoy some fish. When you eat out, take advantage of having an expert chef doing the cooking and order fish or seafood.
  7. Share desserts. If you decide to have dessert, share it with your dining companion(s). Don't ignore heart-healthy choices, such as fresh fruit.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.