According to, eating healthy food is one the most popular New Year’s resolutions of all time. Why? Because another resolution that tops the list year after year is losing weight.

Eating healthy and losing weight means not dining out, right? Wrong! I’ve done my research (because I too am resolving to make 2012 a year of healthy eating) and I’ve discovered some great tips for healthy eating at restaurants.

Tip #1: Eat smaller portions
Before you dig into your entrée, immediately put half of your meal into a to-go box. (Restaurants usually serve large portions, so this trick shouldn’t leave you hungry.) Then, eat your leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. This trick will also help you save on the cost of your next meal!

Tip #2: Go green
Eat more veggies! Instead of ordering French fries or mashed potatoes as a side (go with the “I can have those any old time” approach), order a side salad or steamed veggies. It may be difficult at first (this is a tough one for me), but once you develop the habit, it will be a no-brainer. And hey, “going green” is the hip thing to do these days!

Tip #3: Avoid buffets
Stay away from the all-you-can-eat sign. Just because it seems like a great value, doesn’t mean it’s a great idea. People can get WAY too carried away at buffets, stuffing themselves and regretting it later. Refer to tip #1 – think small portions.

Tip #4: Order low-calorie dishes
Many restaurants offer low-calorie dishes to accommodate healthy eaters and even mark them on the menu. Look at those first before ordering. You may actually find something you like and will be able to avoid the “I’ll run it off later” symptom after consuming a high-calorie meal.      

Tip #5: It’s the little things that count
This means eliminating simple things from your dishes, such as mayonnaise, special sauces and extra butter. Try fat-free dressings and vinaigrettes instead. And, if you normally order a soft drink, order water instead – it’s better for you and usually free!

I hope these tips help you in your quest for healthy eating. Remember, just because you’re changing your eating habits doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite dinner spots. If you have any tips of your own, the Dish team would love to hear them!

Share your ideas for healthy dining below.