Going out to dinner can be extremely difficult for anyone trying to maintain a healthy diet. We all know this feeling. You work out all week, eat healthy, and suddenly the weekend hits and you're out to eat with your friends, trying to overcome those tempting options. However going out to dinner doesn't have to be a total unhealthy binge, and you don't always have to get a boring salad. From Italian to Chinese, here are some healthy restaurant choices that you may find on the menu. 


Spaghetti with sausage

karen_neoh on Flickr

Things to try: For a starter, try Minestrone Soup. It's is a broth-based soup thats packed with veggies and found at just about every Italian restaurant. For dinner, pick a menu item that features lean protein with a side of veggies. If you're craving carbs, skip the bread and opt for a side of pasta. This way you can indulge in your carb craving, while still being conscious of portion control

Things to avoid: Any pasta dish that features a cream based sauce (think Fettuccine Alfredo). These tend to be the highest in calories and saturated fats. 


Mmm... fajitas

jeffreyw on Flickr

Things to try: Fajitas are a great choice that's equally healthy and delicious. Ask for corn tortillas as opposed to white flour tortillas, as they're typically more flavorful and have more fiber. Fill them up with grilled veggies, guac, and salsa. For a side, order black beans and brown rice instead of white. 

Things to avoid: Anything on the menu that is fried or smothered with cheese. Also try not to fill up on chips and salsa before your meal even arrives!


Spring Roll

avrene on Flickr

Things to try: For an appetizer, munch on some veggie spring rolls. They're low-calorie, full of flavor, and absolutely delicious. For dinner, try steamed vegetables with chicken. If you're craving fried rice or lo mein, consider splitting with a friend to avoid overindulging in foods high in sodium. 

Things to avoid: Again, anything fried or covered in sauce. Think sweet and sour chicken, or fried egg rolls. 


Ettore’s Hamburger, Ettore's European Bakery & Restaurant #american #food

Ray Bouknight on Flickr

Things to try: American restaurants tend to offer the most variety in menu options. For a starter, order a house salad or the soup of the day (however, try to avoid any cream based soups). For your entree, stick to lean proteins like grilled chicken or fish. Check out the specials board, where you'll often find the most fresh items.  If you're craving a burger, try it without a bun to avoid overeating carbs (that way you can still have your fries). 

Things to avoid: Breaded or fried proteins that are lacking in wholesome veggies. If your entree comes with a side of french fries or potatoes, see if you can substitute them for a side salad, brown rice, or roasted vegetables. 


meat and potatoes

mccun934 on Flickr

Things to try: French food can tend to be rich, so smaller portions will definitely be just as satisfying. Try Ratatouille, a traditional French vegetarian dish with eggplant and zucchini. If you're craving meat, try Beef Bourguignon, another traditional favorite that's lighter in calories and fat. 

Things to avoid: Anything too cheese-heavy like fondue or French Onion Soup. 


Pulled Pork

Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr

Things to try: BBQ chicken or pulled pork sandwich (sans bun of course). Pulled pork is low in saturated fat and quite possibly the tastiest thing on the menu. If possible, ask for the barbecue sauce on the side, as it can tend to be high in sugar. 

Things to avoid: Because they tend to be completely covered in sauce, ribs or chicken wings might not be the best choice. If you absolutely need that BBQ fix, moderation is key.


Greek salad @ I Kiriti (Amsterdam)

franzconde on Flickr

Thing to try: Mediterranean food is typically a fantastic low-calorie, high-protein choice, so you can't really go wrong. However, some of the best options are a greek salad with chicken (just be careful with the dressing), a side of hummus, and whole grain pita bread or Chicken Souvlaki. 

Things to avoid: Flaky favorites such as Spanakopita and Baklava tend to be very high in calories and fat. If you're craving these special treats, sharing is key.