The Wholefood Approach

Eating Out

We have covered all the main food groups and provided many recipes for you to try along the way, but what about eating out?!

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you cannot eat out, it doesn’t mean that you can no longer go to your favourite restaurants and eat your favourite meals. Whether you are treating yourself to a night out, or catching up with family and friends, you can still eat healthy in any cafe or restaurant.

It’s important to remember that eating healthy is something that should enhance our life, not hinder it. So whether you choose to go out and eat something unhealthy or there are no healthy options, it does not have to be a big deal. The most important thing is what you eat the majority of the time, therefore eating unhealthy from time to time won’t have any major impacts.

Chances are that if you have been eating healthy, you are feeling fantastic and therefore you want to continue to eat healthy even whilst out. Today’s information provides you with helpful tips to do so!

These days there are many health food cafes and restaurants, as well as cafes and restaurants that offer healthy options. However, there might be a time you find yourself in a cafe or restaurant that doesn’t seem to have any healthy wholefood options. Below are some tips on how to navigate eating out and enjoying the experience at the same time: 

  • By now you would have a good idea on identifying healthy food. As previously mentioned wholefoods are the best source of nutrients for your body, therefore wholefoods and foods that are closest to a wholefood are always the best option. When looking at a menu, try to select dishes that reflect this.
  • Choose a cafe/restaurant that you know has some healthy options. A great opportunity for you to showcase good tasting healthy food to the people around you is to go to a restaurant that does amazing food – so next time you are catching up with friends/family, offer to choose the restaurant.  
  • Look at the menu online first to determine if there are healthy options. 
  • If you are going to a restaurant that doesn’t have any options on the menu, you can contact them beforehand and let them know your dietary requirements. This will allow them to prepare something for you. 
  • If you are at the restaurant and the menu doesn’t appear to have any options, you can ask the waitstaff if they are able to make up something for you. If you are in a group and don’t wish to speak up in front of everyone, you can go up to speak to one of the waitstaff. 

Below is a list of typical restaurants and the type of meals you can look for if they don’t have any options on the menu:

  • Western 
    • Breakfast: if they have a cooked breakfast, you can ask them to make a special one up for you with ingredients such as wholemeal toast, mushrooms, tomato, beans, spinach or any type of greens, potatoes, avocado.
    • Lunch/Dinner: Steamed or roasted veggies, baked potato, salad, veggie pasta (wholegrain pasta preferable), beans, grains (rice, quinoa etc). 
  • Mexican – beans, rice, vegetables, bean/vegetable burrito, bean/vegetable taco, salads, salsa, guacamole. 
  • Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese/Japanese – vegetarian noodle and rice dishes, steamed veggies, tofu dishes, vegetable ricepaper rolls, vegetable sushi rolls, vegetable curries, miso soup, edamame, brown rice dishes, udon or soba noodles, seaweed salad, thai salads, noodle soups. 
    *Some Asian dishes have a lot of oil and sugar added, you could ask to limit these additives. 
  • Indian – vegetarian dishes such as potato, cauliflower, chickpea curries, lentil dishes, roti, rice and chutneys. 
    *Some Indian dishes have a lot of oil added, ask for no/limited oil, or select dishes that don’t have a lot of oil. 
  • Italian – order wholegrain pasta where possible, veggie pastas (ask to limit oil), salads, grilled or steamed veggies, veggie pizza with limited non-dairy cheese or no cheese (go ahead and try this – pizza without cheese but packed with veggies is delicious!).  
  • Middle Eastern – salads, hummus, chickpea dishes, falafel (ask for baked not deep fried where possible), baba ganoush, rice, vegetables, wholemeal bread. 
  • African – rice, vegetable curries, injera (sourdough flatbread), vegetable stews, greens, salads.

The wholefood approach aims to nourish your body with all the nutrients it needs, and to avoid unhealthy, processed food – however there may be times when this is difficult. It is therefore recommended that you select the best option available to you in these situations rather than allowing it to compromise your social life and your time with friends and family.

Have unhealthy food on your mind?
A great tip if you plan to eat an unhealthy meal is to load up on a healthy meal beforehand. So for example if you have plans to go out for dinner and you know it’s likely you will be eating unhealthy or overindulging, make sure you eat a healthy lunch or breakfast! This way even if you eat something unhealthy for dinner, you have provided your body with a good amount of nutrients already.

Calories in restaurant/cafe meals
If your goal is to lose weight, whether or not you are counting calories, what should be noted is the high amount of calories in restaurant and cafe meals. Even if a meal appears healthy or is somewhat healthy, it is generally higher in calories than if you were to make it at home. This is because restaurants and cafes tend to add in extra sugar, salt and oils. An average meal at a cafe or restaurant is said to be around 1500 calories (of course depending on the meal). This could mean that eating out even once a week can stall your progress in losing weight. Where possible it is recommended to limit eating out whilst working on achieving your goal. As we tend to organise social events around food this can sometimes be difficult, but by using the suggestions provided above, you can ensure that you are not stalling your progress when it comes to your goal of losing weight. 


Activity #1 – Do a search of cafes/restaurants in your area to find one that has great healthy options. Usually you can type this into google and find an article that has this info. Click on the restaurant to see photos of the dishes and to read reviews.  

Activity #2 – Invite a friend or family member and head out to a restaurant/cafe that you know has some great healthy options. There are many healthy restaurants these days depending on where you live, which range from health food cafes that offer a menu of healthy meals – to takeaway style places that do healthy buddha bowls and other meals.