Eating out doesn't have to mean letting go of your standard for eating healthy. There are a lot of restaurants out there nowadays that are catering to the health conscious individuals. Eating out and eating healthy used to mean choosing from the salad only section, but times have changed, and more places are now offering full menu meals that have nutritious choices for your body. I've put together some facts about eating out and eating healthy, along with restaurants that are best known for their healthy options. To learn more about each restaurant, simply click on our individual reviews listed in the table below.
Here are the best healthy restaurant chains of 2018-18!
Noodles and Company
Native Foods Cafe
The Importance of Eating Healthy
You are only given one body to live in, and the old saying, "you are what you eat," couldn't be more true. In this life there are a lot of things that you can't change. You can't change your DNA, who your family is, or any diseases that may run in your family. But you can change what you eat. And what you eat has a direct impact on the health of your body and mind.
If you are a parent, what you are eating and feeding your kids may have health consequences for years to come. You could be setting them up for diabetes and a host of other diet-related diseases. While all of this sounds depressing, it doesn't have to be. Eating healthy doesn't mean eating cardboard.
Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Healthier
What is a parent to do in a world where kids are surrounded by saturated fats and dyed foods loaded with refined sugars? Should we just throw in the towel and say a prayer that their bodies end up fine? Absolutely not. There is a lot you can do to help your kids start eating healthier, and to teach them to make healthier choices. I've put together a list here of some tips for getting your kids to eat healthier.
Model Good Habits
For some people, this is the thing you may not want to hear. But I'm here to report that this is indeed true. Your kids are not only watching your eating habits, in many cases, they are imitating them as well. Try to model good eating habits for your children to follow.
Have Healthy Choices Available
If you don't have a dozen donuts sitting on your kitchen counter, your kids can't eat them. Buy healthy choices like fruits or yogurt so that when the after school munchies hit, they can grab something healthy instead of junk food.
The chances of healthy foods entering your child's mouth and going to their stomachs are greater if you plan tasty and healthy meals ahead of time. If you leave it to chance and tummies start rumbling before dinner is planned out, the chances are good that you are going to eat a less than favorable meal.
Advantages to Eating a Healthy Meal in a Restaurant
It can be fun to go out to a restaurant that serves up healthy choices. One advantage is that the restaurant will often have a wider variety of choices than you could have imagined in one sitting. It can even be cheaper to eat a variety of healthy foods at a restaurant than at home. For example, a salad bar can offer fruits and vegetables ranging from mangoes to cherry tomatoes and everything in between. It's good to choose natural colorful options of produce in order to get all the daily vitamins and minerals that you need. Eating out makes that easier to do.
The greatest advantage to eating a healthy meal out is that your body will thank you later. By eating healthy choices, your brain function will be higher, and you won't be retaining water the next day from eating too much salty and sugary foods. In the long run, you will be at a lower risk for heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Each time you make choices to eat healthy when eating out, it will really add up in the long run for your overall health.
An Overview of Healthy Restaurant Chains
I've put together a list of healthy choice restaurants. Hopefully, you may have some of these in your area to choose from. Here is a brief summary of what they serve, and what they are known for.
This vegan style restaurant chain operates in California, Oregon, Washington, and Chicago. Veggie Grill focuses on offering plant-based foods only with no meat, dairy, eggs, cholesterol, animal or transfats.
This American fast food style restaurant operates in California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, and Tennessee. The company's name stands for the acronym, "Love Your Food Everyday."
With over 1,230 locations nationwide( and Canada) to choose from, you shouldn't have to drive too far to find a Panera. This bakery style cafe offers a wide range of healthy choices for every meal. You can choose from sandwiches made from whole grain breads to healthy soups and salads. Panera has won top honors for their kids menu which includes organic yogurts and all natural peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
This family operated restaurant is family owned and community focused. Jason's Deli serves guests at 266 delis in 28 states. This deli uses only wholesome ingredients from trusted sources. Jason's Deli was one of the first restaurants to remove trans-fat from their food. They have since eliminated serving processed MSG, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.
Noodles and Company
This restaurant prides itself on serving fresh food fast. FORBES magazine has named Noodles and Company as one of the 100 Most Trustworthy Companies in America. Each dish is cooked to order according to your specifications.
Native Foods Cafe
A fast-casual style vegan restaurant chain that operates in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Chicago. Native Foods Cafe uses nuts, non-GMO soy, organic ingredients, and wheat in their food.
This restaurant focuses on protein rich foods that enhance muscle mass. In turn this improves your mood and brain function. The company's beliefs are that superfoods must have powerhouse ingredients. They have a wide range of nutrient rich foods that are high in antioxidants. Menu choices include quinoa, flaxseed tortillas, Greek yogurt, and house-made sources.
An American fast casual restaurant chain that operates in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Chicago.
Zoe's, which means life in Greek, offers fresh ingredients in original recipes. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is made fresh daily in large portions. Zoe's has choices for the whole family.
An American fast food restaurant chain that is headquartered in College Park, Georgia. They specialize in chicken sandwiches. This chain now operates more than 2,200 restaurants, primarily in the United States. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also offer catered selections for special events. Many of the company's values are influenced by its founders Southern Baptist beliefs. For example, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating Out
Choose a Healthy Restaurant
The easiest way to eat healthy, when eating out, is to choose a restaurant that has healthy choices. You can often find a healthy option or two at a restaurant that is not known for being healthy, but if you choose a healthier restaurant, like the ones we mentioned above, your choices are much better. You also shouldn't need to use as much will power to say since the food options will be good for you.
Make Deliberate Choices
When ordering, try to choose lean protein foods, fruits, veggies, grains, and low-fat dairy options. Look for fresh ingredients over processed food choices. Ask for dressing on the side when ordering a salad. That way you can control the amount of dressing that you put on your food. When you have options for toppings, try to choose vegetable options such as tomatoes, avocados, onions, and such.
Choose Healthy Kids Options
Some restaurants have kids' menus filled with highly processed and salted foods such as hot dogs and french fries. Instead of going to restaurants to just pacify your kids with food like that, try looking for restaurants that have kids' menus similar to adult choices only with smaller portions.
Split Adult Meals with Kids
When my young daughter and I go out to dinner, I order a large-sized adult healthy option and then ask for a plate for my daughter. That way she stays away from highly processed kids' menus and can eat healthy like I am. In the long run it may even save a few dollars to do that. Make sure to order an extra large size if available so you don't go away hungry.
Watch Those Drinks
When eating out, don't forget to order healthy drinks. Instead of pop, go for juice or milk. Even spring or tap water is a great option instead of drinking sugary drinks. Avoid diet sodas too, as they can cause just as much, if not more harm than sugary carbonated drinks.
Eating healthy when eating out doesn't just happen by chance. You will need to plan and make some deliberate choices in order for it to happen. The easiest way to eat healthy when eating out, is to choose a restaurant that serves healthy options. I've gone over and listed ten healthy chain restaurants. Choose places like these that are known for their healthy menus. Eating healthy when eating out can be challenging, but by planning ahead and making deliberate choices, it doesn't have to be that hard. Happy eating!