Everyone’s specific nutritional needs are different, but all follow the general pattern of adequacy, balance, and variety. This is how I define “healthy choices” and “healthy diet”- by ensuring the diet provides adequate calories, is balanced among the food groups, and incorporates a wide variety of foods. This is the easiest way to ensure all nutrient needs are being met on a daily basis.
With this definition of “healthy” in mind, we can make choices that contribute to a healthy diet when eating out. When eating at restaurants, I like to focus on the principle of balance. Balanced plates include a grain/starch option, a protein option, and a fruit/ vegetable option.
- Grain/ starch ideas- rice, pasta, corn, potatoes, oats, bread, etc.
- Protein ideas- chicken, steak, pork, beans, tofu, nuts, nut butters, etc.
- Fruit/ vegetables- apples, berries, bananas, green beans, asparagus, carrots, salad greens, etc.
This framework can be used at any restaurant! Included below are some examples of popular places in Waco.
- Chick-fil-a breakfast- chicken minis (bread = grain/ starch) (chicken = protein) + a fruit cup (fruit/ vegetable)
- Panera lunch- Pick 2 menu option of sandwich (bread = grain/ starch) (meat = protein) + salad (fruit/ vegetable)
- Chipotle dinner- rice bowl with carnitas + pico de gallo + guacamole (rice = grain/ starch) (carnitas = protein) (pico de gallo and guacamole = fruit/ vegetable)
Written by: Courtney Anderson, MS, RD, LD, CLC