Five Dietitians Weigh in on What to Order When You’re Eating Out

Is it possible to dine out and stick to your healthy eating plan? These five dietitians think so. Here’s where to go and what to order when someone else is doing the cooking.

Illustration by Jeannie Phan

For breakfast

Kara Lydon, registered dietitian and owner of Kara Lydon Nutrition
Where She Goes: Tatte Bakery.
What She Orders: The shakshuka.
Why: To vanquish those midmorning hunger pangs, healthfully. “The tomatoes, peppers, and onions provide fiber, the spices add an antioxidant punch, and the poached eggs provide protein and fat,” Lydon says, “making it a well-balanced meal.”

For quick takeout

Deanna Belleny, program manager at Harvard Medical School and cofounder of Diversify Dietetics
Where She Goes: Basil Rice.
What She Orders: A fresh veggie roll and the “Broccoli Royal,” which enhances the cruciferous vegetable with carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and a choice of meat.
Why: When Belleny hunkers down on a Sunday night with Netflix and takeout, she loads her plate with produce first, meat and rice second. “Most of the entrées at Basil Rice come with a decent amount of vegetables, but I will typically add an extra serving to up the nutrient content,” she says.

For something sweet

Alicia Romano, spin instructor and nutritionist at Tufts Medical Center
Where She Goes: J.P. Licks.
What She Orders: A kiddie ice cream scoop.
Why: When it comes to sweets, Romano doesn’t shy away from indulging. “The ‘lightened-up’ versions, in my mind, don’t tend to fully satisfy me,” she says. “And then I’ll end up eating more than I would if I ate the real thing.” So instead, she opts for a perfectly portioned kids’ cup.

For a fast-casual lunch

Matt Priven, owner of Oceanside Nutrition
Where He Goes: Clover.
What He Orders: The egg-and-eggplant platter.
Why: Served with hummus and an array of salad greens, this plate is “a surprisingly great combination of flavors,” Priven says. Plus, “Eggs are great sources of the important but little-known nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which, research suggests, improve cognitive function and protect the health of our eyes as we age.”

For dinner

Amanda Chu, clinical dietitian at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Charlestown
Where She Goes: Pagu.
What She Orders: Bluefin tuna tartare and XO bok choy.
Why: The menu at Pagu is composed mostly of small plates, which makes it easy to eat around the food pyramid. These two dishes alone pack in plenty of nutrients: “Fish is a great source of healthy fats,” Chu says, “and the XO bok choy is a great source of fiber and, surprisingly, calcium.”