More than ever, restaurants are accommodating regarding the dietary needs of their patrons. Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and other options appear on many menus. To paraphrase an old Burger King commercial, the theme at most restaurants these days has become, “Special orders don’t upset us.”

Long before these options began to appear, many of my family members and friends were “famous” for the questions they asked, and the special orders they placed, at restaurants.

“Is the sauce on that fish creamy or is it clear?”

“Does the dressing have vinegar in it?”

“I don’t want those potatoes. Can I substitute a green vegetable?”

Those questions used to reflect preferences. Now, they are more frequently health-related.

My primary restaurant habits (so I can be a healthier eater) are as follows:

  • I ask for whole wheat bread when I order a sandwich.
  • I ask for whole grain tortillas when I order a burrito.
  • I ask for green vegetables or sweet potatoes in lieu of white potatoes.
  • I ask for green vegetables or brown rice in lieu of white rice.

There are two components to these habits. The first is choosing to eat healthier and learning about healthier choices. The second is remembering to ask about the dishes you are ordering.

Like all other habits, it will take a while, and until you get into the habit, you will find yourself having moments like those in the “I could’ve had a V-8” commercials.

I see that all the time when I go out to meals with friends. We might order the same thing and when mine is delivered with broccoli and theirs comes with white potatoes, they look at my plate and say, “That was a good idea, I should’ve done that.” More often now, if I order the same thing as a friend, after they hear what I order, they change their order slightly: “Oh, that’s a good idea. May I please have broccoli instead of white potatoes also. Thanks.”

What is your experience with healthy eating in restaurants? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,