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(10 min. read)

After an exhausting day of work/school, it is always hard to motivate yourself to cook a meal for you and/or your family. This tendency leads to many people eating out instead because it is much more convenient and requires minimal effort. Unfortunately, this convenience can affect your health.  Did you know that your decision-making goes down when you are hungry? A lot of the food that are offered tends to be high in fat, sodium and sugar so making sure we don’t eat too much of these products when eating out is extremely important in managing our health. How can we make smarter choices when we eat out? Well, here are 8 tips that will help you make healthier choices when you go out to eat.


  1.    Ask for meals to be cooked without salt, MSG or flavourings that contain MSG
  2.    Use lower sodium options of sauces (e.g soy sauce, teriyaki and other condiments)
  3.    Substitute brown rice for white rice, whole wheat noodles or buckwheat noodles for noodles that have a lower carbohydrate count such as rice noodles to boost your fibre intake
  4.    Choose plenty of vegetables steamed or stir fried (bok choy, kale, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, red peppers, onion, chayote, cucumber, eggplant, daikon etc)
  5.    Have meat, poultry or fish roasted or grilled instead of fried or deep fried.
  6.    Choose a variety of fruits ( lychee, mango, guava, papaya)
  7.    Ask for restaurant to use canola, olive, corn or soybean oil instead of saturated oil such as ghee
  8.    Find Alternatives options available

E.g Opt for marinara and other tomato based sauces instead of creamy cheese or alfredo sauces, choose lower fat salad dressing for vegetable marinades and salad and choose stews, soups and dishes made with vegetables, lentils and beans

Food to be Aware of

In order to help you identify food which food to watch out for, here is a list of potential food products one should be aware of when they go eat out at different cuisines.

Chinese and Japanese Food: Teriyaki sauces, plum sauce, stir fried rice and noodles, deep fried chicken, pork, shrimp, vegetables, spring rolls and dishes with a lot of meat and noodles with little to no vegetables

Thai/Vietnamese: Coconut oil, coconut milk, soups, salad made with salty sauces (oyster sauce, shrimp paste, soy and hoisin), fried rice and deep fried fish cakes.

Middle Eastern/Mediterranean:Deep fried falafels, high fat dressings, deep fried vegetables, vegetable and dessert dishes made with phyllo pastry

Italian: Pizza with a lot of fatty meat (pepperoni, salami, sausage) and extra cheese, antipasto food (cheese, marinated vegetables, cured meats such as prosciutto) , salad with high fat dressing (Caesar), Creamy pasta sauce (fettuccine alfredo), cheesy risotto, deep fried meat, deep fried fish, desserts (cannoli, zeppole, marzipan, tiramisu)

Mexican: Faijitas, tacos, tamales, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas that is loaded with cheese, deep fried corn tortillas, and corn chips, nachos with cheese, refried beans made with lard, Guacamole, Sour Cream and Salty Salsas