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Your Best Health: Adult Weight Management

Eating away from home

Eating away from home is a normal part of our lives, but it can be a challenge when you’re trying to make healthy food choices.

In the last week, did you eat away from home? This includes any food you didn’t make at home, restaurant food, fast food, and take-out food.

If you said yes, how many times did you eat away from home in the last week?

Restaurant food often has more fat, salt, and calories than the food you might cook. Often the portions are larger than you need. It’s hard to make healthy choices and eat smaller portions when you eat meals that aren’t made at home. This doesn’t’ mean that you only have to eat at home. When you eat away from home, have a plan to make healthier choices.

You may choose to set a goal about how often you eat out. A tip to help reduce the portion size and lower the calories is to decide how much of what’s been served you will eat now before you start to eat.

Here are some ideas that people have found helped when eating away from home.

  • I was eating out 15 times a week. That surprised me when I added it up. Just by packing my lunch I got this down to 10 times this week.
  • I found that many restaurants have the nutrition information on their website. It makes me aware of how many calories, fat, sugar, or salt is in the food. So, before I go, I make a plan for what I’m going to order.
  • We share an entrée — it’s enough for 2 and it saves us money and calories.
  • I ask the server for half the meal to be packed so I can take it home for another meal.
  • At some events, the meals are often a buffet. I do 2 things that have helped me. I look at all the items before I make my choice, and I choose a smaller plate.

If eating away from home is an area that you’d like to work on, write down some ideas that may work for you.

Review of eating well

There’s a lot to learn about healthy eating to manage weight and health. Keep in mind that even small changes you make add up to a healthier you.

  • Healthy eating is not just about what you eat, but also about how much and when.
  • Consider eating 3 meals (including breakfast) with snacks as needed.
  • Aim for smaller portions and a balanced plate at every meal.
  • Choose healthy drinks. Drink mostly water throughout the day.
  • Use the 4 P’s to help make healthy eating easier (plan, purchase, prepare, pack).
  • Be aware of how often you choose to eat away from home. Make a plan when you eat away from home to make healthy choices.
  • Keep a lifestyle journal.

Change can be hard. You may feel overwhelmed if you try to do too many things at once. When you’re ready, setting goals can help. Go back and review the section on setting goals.

If you’d like more help with eating well for your weight and health, talk to a registered dietitian. See the resources section for more information.​​​