I used to think that the hectic schedules for busy families came in seasons. If we could just get through the holidays things will get easier. We’ll get back on track after softball season or when the school year finally end. I just need to make it through the summer and I’ll be back in my routine.

I’ve realized that our lives as parents are always evolving to take on the next thing, a never ending cycle of business and sometimes chaos. Sure one week may be easier than the next but I think it’s safe to say being constantly on the go becomes the norm. Packed schedules often mean less time for meal planning or simply days when no one is even home to eat a family meal. You don’t need a Dietitian to tell you it is healthier to eat at home but sometimes eating out is the only option.  Of course, there are times when an adventure out to a local eatery is a special treat and evening to enjoy, but dining out doesn’t have to undo efforts to keep your family healthy. Consider these tasteful tips when enjoying a meal out and about. 

  1. Do your homework. A little work on the front end can go a long way. Most chain restaurants have nutrition information posted on their website. If you know what to order when you walk in the door, you’ll be less tempted to look for other options.
  2. Door #1 or Door #2. If you are brave and want the kid’s input on a restaurant, narrow it down to two options before you even ask. You’ll save yourself from some haggling and pre-plan to offer two places you can get healthier options.
  3. Ask. Ask. Ask. Explore the menu with your server. Do not be afraid to ask about modifications that can be made to the preparation of the dish. Most often dishes can be grilled instead of fried, prepared with less oil and salt, or the cook can make simple substitutions (fresh tomatoes instead of bacon). Skip the buttered bun, mayo, breading and oils, odds are you’ll never notice it’s not there.
  4. Push it to the side. When in doubt always ask for sauces on the side, not just salad dressing! Condiments are one often biggest culprits for hidden sugar, fat and salt.
  5. Veg Out. Opt for a side or entrée that includes a vegetable. Not only will you cut on calories and increase your fiber intake you may even discover a new way to prepare a vegetable you can make at home.
  6. Divide and Conquer. Consider skipping the kid’s menu all together. Perhaps share your meal with your child or give the kids a few adult menu items to decide upon and split. This can be tricky, depending on how many kids you have and how much they eat. If splitting isn’t an option, ask the server for a lunch portion, lots of places do it!
  7. Get a little help. Nashville has a lot of great chain restaurants but what about all of our great local eateries? My friends Nourishwise can help! They remove the guesswork while staring at your local restaurant menu. Their team of Registered Dietitians analyze menu items to help you choose the most nutritious meal when dining out. You can sign up to receive their FREE weekly email are www.nourishwise.com or text “Nourish” to 66866. Check out some of their recent healthier finds!

City Fire

Fish Tacos

Mahi Mahi, citrus slaw, guacamole, spicy mayo, salsa verde, corn tortillas

Nutrition Facts:

440 Calories
12g Total Fat
60g Carbohydrates
26g Protein

Turkey BLT

Roasted turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, spicy mayo, multigrain bread

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 530
Total Fat: 20g
Carbs: 56g
Protein: 39g


Frothy Monkey

California

Fried eggs, avocado, sprouts, sourdough toast with house-made salsa

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 460
Total Fat: 25g
Carbs: 39g
Protein: 21g

Julie

Bagel sandwich with feta, basil, farm fresh eggs, and tomato

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 320
Total Fat: 10g
Carbs: 42g


Blue Coast Burrito

Veggie Burrito

Baja rice, pinto beans, peppers, garlic mushrooms, green olives, lettuce, pico de gallo, flour tortilla

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 400
Total Fat: 11g
Carbs: 65g
Protein: 12g

Burrito In The Buff with Chicken

Grilled chicken, baja rice, pinto beans, Monterey jack cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 490
Total Fat: 16g
Carbs: 44g
Protein: 42g

Chicken tacos (2)

Grilled chicken, lettuce, green olives, pico de gallo, flour tortillas

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 340
Total Fat: 7g
Protein: 39g
Carbs: 30g