Healthy Dishes at Restaurants

You probably think of salad as the ultimate health food, but a recent article in The Washington Post suggests it’s not all its cracked up to be — and not just because many restaurant salads contain just as many calories as the burger you’d rather be eating.

“The biggest thing wrong with salad is lettuce,” writes Tamar Haspel in the Post. Haspel goes on to argue that lettuce, which is the base of most healthy-sounding salads, is nutritionally irrelevant because it contains way more water than vitamins, minerals, and calories. In other words, lettuce salads are just a vehicle to shovel croutons, cheese, and loads of dressing into your mouth — without contributing much to your dietary needs, so for people looking to stay fit or lose weight this may not even be the best option, also there are other methods and programs that can be use from sites as, that help a lot for getting in shape.

That means even homemade salads may not be as healthy as you think — so it should go without saying that you’re no better off eating out.

“Items labeled ‘salad’ at chain restaurants are often as bad, if not worse, than pastas or sandwiches or burgers when it comes to calories,” Haspel continues — and he’s completely right, according to Georgie Fear, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian and the author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. Luckily, popular chain restaurants — from Burger King and McDonalds to Cracker Barrel and The Cheesecake Factory — all serve perfectly healthy salad-alternatives that are dense in nutrients.

So when you want to eat healthy – healthier than a salad — try one of Fear’s non-salad recommendations:

1. Starbucks: Spinach, Egg White and Feta Wrap

Not only is this wrap is served hot — meaning it automatically beats a cold Bistro Box on a chilly day or when you’re up against aggressive A.C.— but it contains whole grains, has a great mix of protein, fats, and carbs, packs 6 grams of filling fiber, and sneaks in some veggies too. For a heartier meal, just order two.

2. Wendy’s: Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich + a Small Chili

The stats on the sandwich are very reasonable without modifying any of the toppings: It has a respectable 8 grams of fat and 35 grams of protein. To fill out your meal, add a small chili, which delivers iron, extra protein, and fiber to really fill you up.

3. Applebee’s: Napa Chicken and Portobellos


Applebee’s has a whole menu full of dishes under 600 calories — but some of the protein portions seem too small to satisfy. This chicken dish is the exception with a whopping 50 grams of protein and a nutritious mix of vegetables that trumps a measly pile of lettuce. If you’re in the mood for steak, the pepper-crusted sirloin with whole grains is another good choice (it just contains less protein).

4. Chipotle: Burrito Bowl With Chicken, Beans, Fajita Vegetables, Lettuce, Tomato Salsa, and Half a Portion of Guacamole

Like many registered dietitians who are all, “Burrito bowl or bust!”, Fear prefers Chipotle bowls to burritos. Between the chicken, beans, and veggies in the combo above, there’s plenty of protein, fiber, and nutrients. As for healthy fat, guacamole is about the best you can get: It contains more monounsaturated fat and less saturated fat than cheese or sour cream. Still, the typical 4-ounce serving contains 22 grams of fat with more calories than cheese and sour cream combined! So Fear sticks to a half portion.

5. Panera Bread: Smoked Turkey Sandwich With Cheddar Cheese on Whole Wheat Bread + Apple

While Panera’s flatbreads provide tasty low-calorie options, Fear suggests going for a more substantial sandwich with more protein so you don’t get hungry again soon after your meal. She recommends the smoked turkey, specially ordered with whole wheat bread (for extra nutrients), a slice of cheese for satiating fat, and an apple on the side.