Eating away from home

Choosing healthier meals, snacks and drinks can be more challenging when you’re away from home. Sometimes the available choices are only those higher in saturated fat, added sugars, added salt and kilojoules.

A few simple tips can make it a whole lot easier to eat a variety from the five food groups and limit discretionary foods and extra kilojoules.

Think about what food and drink might be available and plan what you will have.

Consider taking some food and water with you.

An image of two women eating a healthy restaurant meal to illustrate healthy restaurant food choices.

When travelling

  • Consider taking some healthy food and water with you.
  • Stop at a bakery or café for lunch and ask for a salad, wholegrain roll or wrap.
  • Avoid pies, pastries and other discretionary food.

Takeaway food

  • Choose bread based options like wraps, kebabs, souvlaki, hamburgers.
  • Avoid deep fried and pastry options.
  • Include extra vegetables and salad.
  • Choose smaller portions or share with someone else and add a green salad to reduce the kilojoules of the meal.
  • Limit high fat, high salt sauces and toppings like cheese, fatty meats and mayonnaise (ask for less).
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t upsize unless it’s with a side salad.

With friends

  • Offer to take a salad or fruit platter to dinner or lunch with friends.
  • If you know you will be able to fill half your plate with salad, you can choose less of the other dishes are limit the kilojoules of the meal.
  • Try to serve yourself, so that you can control your portion size.
  • Plan meals around activities or outdoor settings. For example: go to the park, organise a picnic, go for a walk, include informal games or sports like barefoot bowls, bocce, frisbee, backyard cricket. Taking the focus off the food helps limit the opportunities to overeat or to drink too much alcohol.

At restaurants

It can pay off to plan your eating strategy before arriving at a restaurant.  This gives you more control and discipline in making good food choices from the menu:

  • Consider asking for an entrée sized or a smaller serve.
  • Think about asking for extra vegetables or salad with your meal. This is especially good for limiting kilojoules when eating out. A salad can be a good entrée choice if others are ordering entrees.
  • Ask for dressings and sauces to come separately so you can add a smaller amount yourself and save on fat and kilojoules.
  • Skip the chips and go easy on the bread.
  • Avoid large serves of pasta and rice dishes with few vegetables and high fat sauces.
  • Choose a lean piece of meat, skinless chicken or seafood
  • Avoid fried, battered and crumbed choices; instead choose steamed, pan fried, braised, poached, baked, roasted or grilled.
  • You can always try asking for a dish to be prepared as you would prefer. Most restaurants would like to please you where they can.
  • Consider splitting a meal with a friend and asking for salad on the side if you are trying to limit your kilojoules.
  • Finish with fruit or share a dessert if you want one. Sometimes you only need a taste of a delicious dessert to be satisfied.
  • Remember that the food is only a small part of the overall cost of the meal and only eat what you need to be satisfied.
  • Listen to your body, eat slowly, savouring every bite and monitor how hungry or full you feel.

Drinks

  • Satisfy your thirst with water before you go out
  • Drink water with your meal
  • Limit alcohol and alternate drinks with water
  • Think about when you most enjoy an alcoholic drink, for example, before or during a meal, and limit your drink to that time.