Be Wise Portion Size when Eating Out


By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.


Below are a number of strategies to help you make healthier low calorie choices when you are eating out. Be wise and portion size when you are eating out.

Eating Out Strategies:

  1. Go online to see what choices you have available to help you manage your waist.
  2. Be assertive.
  3. Get the Doggie Bag with dinner, split the meal before eating it.
  4. Don’t feel guilty about eating.
  5. Eat slowly and taste every bite.
  6. Eat till you feel full not stuffed!
  7. Concentrate on the atmosphere.
  8. Don’t drink your calories!
  9. Make appetizers the meal.
  10. Breads are fattening but the added butter is.
  11. Salads aren’t always low calorie fare.
  12. Beware of Reduced Calorie salad dressings.
  13. Always ask for your dressing served on the side of the salad.
  14. Vinegar like balsamic, red wine & tarragon, no calories.
  15. Split an Entrée & have an extra salad.
  16. Share a dessert if you must.
  17. Order the luncheon  or Appetizer  Portion


Know Menu Terminology

  1. Leaner ways to cook meats & vegetables: broiling, roasting, char grilling, grilling, poaching, stir-frying, boiling & steaming.
  2. Restaurants may brush or baste meats with fats during or after the cooking process.
  3. Some meat may be marinated in oil or a high fat substance.
  4. The term PRIME means very high in fat due to marbling



Terms that Indicate High-fat, High Calorie Prepared Food









In its Own Gravy



Au Gratin

In a Butter Sauce



In a Cream Sauce

In a Cheese Sauce

Pot Pie


Choose These Foods Lower Calorie Prepared Food







Herbs & spices








Stir -Fried

Tomato Sauce


Hamburger Fast Food Green Light Choices

  • Single hamburger or cheeseburger
  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Grilled chicken salad
  • Baked potato with chili or broccoli
  • Small order French fries
  • Garden and side salad – use light dressing
  • Frozen yogurt


Mexican Green Light Choices

  • Black bean, tortilla soup or gazpacho
  • Mexican or taco salad (don’t eat the fried shell)
  • Arroz con pollo (chicken and rice)
  • Burritos and Enchiladas
  • Fajitas
  • Soft tacos
  • Black or pinto beans (not refried beans with cheese)
  • Mexican rice
  • Pico de gallo
  • All hot sauces


Chinese Restaurant Green Light Choices

  • Wonton, egg drop or hot & sour soup
  • Teriyaki beef or chicken
  • Chop suey or chow mein
  • Vegetarian stir-fry dishes

Italian Restaurant Green Light Choices

  • Marinated vegetable salad
  • Minestrone soup
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Pasta with tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  • Chicken or veal cacciatore, light wine or light tomato sauce
  • Chicken or shrimp primavera (no cream in sauce)

American Food Restaurant Green Choices

  • Broth-based soups
  • Chili (hold the cheese and sour cream)
  • Peel and eat shrimp
  • Salad with light or fat free dressing on the side
  • Salad with grilled tuna or chicken
  • Teriyaki or BBQ chicken breast
  • Fajitas





Fiesta Lime Chicken with Sauce, Cheese, Tortilla Strips, Salsa & Rice

1,285 calories, 47 g fat, 1,443 mg sodium

Grilled Steak Caesar Salad with Toast

1,295 calories, 82 g fat, 2,199 mg sodium

Southwest Philly Roll-Up with Salsa

1,605 calories, 121 g fat, 2,338 mg sodium

Smart Options but…

Grilled Cajun Lime Tilapia with Black Beans & Corn Salsa

310 calories, 6 g fat, 1,250 mg sodium

Crispy Buttermilk Shrimp with Potatoes & Toast

843 calories, 34 g fat, 1,563 mg sodium

Teriyaki Steak & Shrimp Skewers

370 calories, 7 g fat, 1,475 mg sodium



Roast Beef & Swiss Market Fresh Sandwich

810 calories, 42 g fat, 1,780 mg sodium

Chicken Salad w/Pecans Sandwich

789 calories, 39 g fat, 1,240 mg sodium

Santa Fe Salad

773 calories, 52 g fat, 1,823 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Grilled Cajun Lime Tilapia with Black Beans & Corn Salsa

440 calories, 19 g fat, 1,061 mg sodium

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

488 calories, 18 g fat, 1,560 mg sodium

Martha’s Vineyard Salad with Light Buttermilk Dressing

339 calories, 14 g fat, 923 mg sodium

Jimmy John’s


Turkey Tom w/Alfalfa Sprouts, Tomatoes, Lettuce, & Mayo

555 calories, 26 g fat, 1,342 mg sodium

Pepe Sub-Ham, Provolone, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo

684 calories, 37 g fat, 1,659 mg sodium

Gourmet Veggie Club-Provolone, Avocado, Cucumber, Alfalfa, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo

856 calories, 46 g fat, 1,500 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Turkey Breast Slim Sub w/Alfalfa Sprouts, Tomatoes, Onion, Cucumber & Avocado Spread

426 calories, 2 g fat, 1,439 mg sodium

Totally Tuna Sub

507 calories, 20 g fat, 1,279 mg sodium

Vegetarian Sub w/Avocado Spread, Cucumber, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Alfalfa Sprouts

290 calories, 1.5 g fat, 628 mg sodium




Chicken Caesar Cool Wrap

480 calories, 16 g fat, 1,640 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

420 calories, 16 g fat, 1,300 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A Chick-n Strips Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

800 calories, 60 g fat, 1,745 mg sodium

Chicken, Egg & Cheese on Sunflower Multigrain Bagel

500 calories, 20 g fat, 1,260 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Chick-fil-A Nuggets (8-pack) with Barbecue Sauce

305 calories, 13 g fat, 1,020 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A Southwest Chargrilled Salad with fat-free honey mustard dressing

360 calories, 8 g fat, 1,170 mg sodium

Biscuit & Gravy

330 calories, 15 g fat, 970 mg sodium



Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce & Spicy Italian Sausage w/ Caesar Side Salad

1,030 calories, 53.5 g fat, 2,040 mg sodium

Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs

940 calories, 40 g fat, 2,370 sodium

Original Submarine

940 calories, 58 g fat, 3,040 mg sodium

Parmesan Chicken Salad with Ranch Dressing

580 calories, 39 g fat, 1,270 sodium


Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce & Spicy Italian Sausage w/ Caesar Side Salad

1,030 calories, 53.5 g fat, 2,040 mg sodium

Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs

940 calories, 40 g fat, 2,370 sodium

Original Submarine

940 calories, 58 g fat, 3,040 mg sodium

Parmesan Chicken Salad with Ranch Dressing

580 calories, 39 g fat, 1,270 sodium



KFC Famous Bowl with Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

740 calories, 35 g fat, 2,350 mg sodium

Popcorn Chicken – Individual

400 calories, 26 g fat, 1,160 mg sodium

Crispy Caesar Salad w/Creamy Parm Caesar Dress w/ Croutons

670 calories, 48 g fat, 1,755 mg sodium

Apple Pie Minis (3)

370 calories, 20 g fat, 260 mg sodium

Smart options but…

3 Crispy Strips, Green Beans, & 3” Corn on Cob

470 calories, 22 g fat, 1,775 mg sodium

Honey BBQ KFC Snacker

210 calories, 3 g fat, 530 mg sodium

Roasted BLT Salad w/Fat Free Ranch Dressing

235 calories, 6 g fat, 1,290 mg sodium

Sweet Life Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

150 calories, 5 g fat, 135 mg sodium

Olive Garden


Stuffed Chicken Marsala w/Garlic Parmesan Mash Potatoes

1,315 calories, 86 g fat, 2,550 mg sodium

Mixed Grill w/Vegetables & Mashed Potatoes

839 calories, 43 g fat, 1,541 mg sodium

Pork Filettino w/Potatoes & Bell Peppers

1,011 calories, 57 g fat, 2,479 mg sodium


Smart options but…

Linguine Alla Marinara with a Breadstick

691 calories, 9.5 g fat, 1,040 mg sodium

Shrimp Primavera

706 calories, 18 g fat, 1,220 mg sodium

Chicken Giardino

448 calories, 11 g fat, 1,670 mg sodium


Outback Steakhouse


Ayers Rock Strip Steak w/Sautéed Mushrooms & Loaded Jacket Potato

1,450 calories, 85 g fat

Outback Special (11 oz) w/Sautéed Mushrooms

960 calories, 61 g fat

Half a Bloomin’ Onion

1,155 calories, 67 g fat

Smart options but…

Prime Minister’s Prime Rib w/Fresh Veggies & Sweet Potato

730 calories, 39 g fat

Victoria Filet (9 oz) with Steamed Vegetables

639 calories, 45 g fat

Half an Order of Shrimp on the Barbie w/Bread

330 calories, 21 g fat

PF Chang’s


Sriracha Shrimp Salad

1,130 calories, 46 g fat

Salt & Pepper Calamari

770 calories, 50 g fat

Kung Pao Chicken

1,240 calories, 80 g fat

Spicy Green beans


Smart options but…

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Steamed with Ginger

750 calories, 50 g fat

Seared Ahi Tuna

260 calories, 6 g fat

Ginger Chicken & Broccoli

660 calories, 26 g fat

Sichuan-Style Asparagus

200 calories, 6 g fat



Small Honey Mustard Chicken Sub

550 calories, 30 g fat, 1,140 mg sodium

Small Prime Rib Cheesesteak

680 calories, 42 g fat, 1,070 mg sodium

Small Turkey Ranch & Swiss Sandwich

450 calories, 22.5 g fat, 1,380 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Small Honey Bourbon Chicken on Wheat Bread

310 calories, 4 g fat, 920 mg sodium

Small Black Angus Sandwich

520 calories, 16.5 g fat, 1,550 mg sodium

Small Tuscan Turkey

390 calories, 14 g fat, 1,185 mg sodium

Red Lobster


North Pacific King Crab Legs with Melted Butter w/Rice Pilaf

883 calories, 35 g fat

Snow Crab Legs w/Melted Butter & a Cheddar Bay Biscuit

611 calories, 34.5 g fat

Crab Alfredo

1,170 calories, 66 g fat

Smart options but…

Live Maine Lobster (1.24 lbs) w/Cocktail Sauce & Seasoned Broccoli

288 calories, 3 g fat

Garlic Grilled Jumbo Shrimp

329 calories, 5 g fat

Broiled Flounder w/Lemon Juice & a Garden Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette

344 calories, 10 g fat

Romano’s Macaroni Grill


Chicken Caesar

920 calories, 69 g fat, 1,660 mg sodium

Chicken Portobello

1,020 calories, 66 g fat, 7,300 mg sodium

Grilled Salmon Teriyaki

1,230 calories, 74 g fat, 6,590 mg sodium

Half Order of Mozzarella Fritta

Smart options but…

½ Pizza Margherita & Caesar Della Casa w/Low Fat Caesar Dr

645 calories, 24 g fat, 1,665 mg sodium

Pollo Magro

330 calories, 5 g fat, 770 mg sodium

Simple Salmon

590 calories, 40 g fat, 1,390 mg sodium

Half Order of Mozzarella Alla Caprese

260 calories, 21 g fat, 410 mg sodium

Ruby Tuesday’s


Turkey Burger with Fries

1,171 calories, 58 g fat

Parmesan Shrimp Penne

1,221 calories, 64 g fat

Southwestern Spring Rolls (4 rolls)

708 calories, 40 g fat

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

443 calories, 34 g fat

Smart options but..

7 oz Top Sirloin w/Baby Green Beans & Baby Portabella Mushrooms

464 calories, 24 g fat

Creole Catch w/Couscous w/Baby Green Beans

580 calories, 26 g fat

Asian Dumplings (4 dumplings)

440 calories, 20 g fat

White Bean Chicken Chili w/Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

370 calories, 15 g fat

Taco Bell


Baja Beef Chalupa

410 calories, 27 g fat, 780 mg sodium

Zesty Chicken BORDER BOWL

640 calories, 35 g fat, 1,800 mg sodium

Grilled Stuff Chicken Burrito

640 calories, 23 g fat, 2,160 mg sodium

Caramel Apple Empanadas

290 calories, 14 g fat, 300 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Two Grilled Steak Soft Tacos, Fresco Style

320 calories, 9 g fat, 1,100 mg sodium

Chicken Fiesta Taco Salad w/out Shell

470 calories, 24 g fat, 1,780 mg sodium

Two Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos

340 calories, 12 g fat, 1,160 mg sodium

Cinnamon Twists

170 calories, 7 g fat, 200 mg sodium



Chicken Club Toaster Sandwich

690 calories, 35 g fat, 1,900 mg sodium

Jumbo Popcorn Chicken Salad

490 calories, 28 g fat, 1,440 mg sodium

Fish Sandwich

640 calories, 31 g fat, 1,1180 mg sodium

Large Hi-C Fruit Punch

290 calories, 0 g fat

Smart options but…

Sonic Burger with Mustard

540 calories, 25 g fat, 730 mg sodium

Grilled Chicken on Ciabatta w/BBQ Sauce

375 calories, 9 g fat, 1,310 mg sodium

Grilled Chicken Wrap

380 calories, 11 g fat, 1,300 mg sodium

Junior Banana Split

200 calories, 4.5 g fat



Roasted Turkey & Swiss Frescata w/Med Fries & Med Coke

1,100 calories, 40 g fat, 1,950 mg sodium

Chicken Club Sandwich

610 calories, 31 g fat, 1,460 mg sodium

2 Junior Cheeseburgers

720 calories, 32 g fat, 1,720 mg sodium

Medium French Fries

420 calories, 20 g fat, 430 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich w/Side Salad w/Red fat Ranch & Med Iced Tea

540 calories, 22 g fat, 1,780 mg sodium

Small Chili & 5 piece Crispy Chicken Nuggets

450 calories, 21 g fat, 1,300 mg sodium

Single w/ Everything

430 calories, 20 g fat, 900 mg sodium

Sour Cream & Chives Potato

320 calories, 4 g fat, 55 mg sodium


Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition,, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    


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