Fitness At Home's Guide to Eating Out Right!

Let’s be realistic.  Not all of our meals can be had at home.  In fact, the majority of Americans eat on the go today… so, it’s no wonder our belt buckles are expanding.  Have you SEEN the nutrition facts of some of your favorite meals?  It’s really astounding how many calories and


how much fat is in some of these meals… including some that are disguised as “healthy” salads and soups.

However, the good news is that many restaurants out there see the need for education and many are even creating meals that will satisfy both the taste buds and nutritional needs for us!  I’ve created a list of some of my favorites when it comes to restaurants that are more health conscious.  I eat on the go a lot, too, so I need to know where I can stop to pick up something that is also healthy for me.  I’ll list out my favorites for you, and recommend some menu items… but don’t stop at my suggestions.  There are MANY restaurants out there that offer these menu items now… just go check their websites before dining and look for a link to their nutritional information.  What you find may shock you!

Read on for my picks and recommendations…
Noodles and Company

The site for Noodles and Company is one of my favorites when it comes to meal planning.  It not only tells you the calories in the meals, but it also has selections for people who may be watching carbs, fat, sodium, and even people who have food allergies. 
Also, from their nutrition drop down menu choice, you can select “under 400 calories” and you can download a PDF that will help you select items to build complete meals for 400 calories and under!  Score!

My pick: Trio – Japanese Pan Noodles with shrimp and tossed salad with fat-free Asian dressing – 415 calories for the meal, and it’s very satisfying and really yummy!


Maybe it’s baffling that they’ve made my list, since they are known to serve some of the most fattening and calorie full fries in America… but, it’s their Guiltless Grill that I like.  The items are a little harder to find on the menus now, because they don’t have their own category… but you can locate them by looking for the little “guiltless grill” icons next to the menu items.  I will give Chili’s a little grief, however, for taking some of their best Guiltless Grill items off the menu.  So, I’m not sure how long their selections will last, as they seem to keep getting downsized.  What does Guiltless Grill mean? “GG = Guiltless Grill choices for your healthy lifestyle per and meet HEALTHY DINING’s nutrition criteria:
not more than 750 calories, 25 grams fat, and 8 grams saturated fat.”

My pick: GG Salmon with garlic and herbs at 530 calories (though, I pick that begrudgingly since my two favorite GG items are no more… sad)

UNO Chicago Grill (or Pizzeria Uno as we know it here)

I honestly would’ve never thought of having them on the list had it not been by recommendation of Helen, a friend and member of my Facebook Fan Page for Fitness At Home.  Helen says, “I like my local Uno’s – it has an
interactive menu at the front where you can look up each menu item and
see it broken down into nutritional facts. If I happen to want something
particularly naughty, seeing the calories usually chases me away.”

I don’t have a pick for Uno since I haven’t been there for a long time, myself (please don’t flog me, fellow Chicagoans), but check out the interactive menu on their site so that you can pre-plan your visit!  I know I will be next time I go!

Corner Bakery Cafe

This has been one of my favorite places to eat ever since I moved to Chicago some years ago (back when they were cafe-line style… whoa).  Now, don’t let the name fool you, because they do have some menu items that are scary high in calories, but they also have a wide selection of items that are lower in calories and very good!  Since these are located all over the Chicago area you will usually find one near you for a quick grab and go!

My pick:  Mom’s Roasted Chicken on Whole Grain Harvest Bread (minus the mayo with carrots on the side instead of potato chips)If you need more, add a cup of chicken noodle soup to only add 140 additional calories.

Panera Bread

Another favorite when it comes to sandwich shops.  The thing I LOVE that Panera has done now is that they actually list the calories on their menu as you look at it at the cafe!  So, you don’t even really need to shop ahead here… you can make an educated decision when you get there!  Thank you, Panera, for doing this!  You aren’t afraid to let your calories show… even the naughty ones.  Way to step up!

My pick: Thai Chopped Chicken Salad (this is a new item and it’s not listed on the site.  I’m thinking it may be seasonal, but I HOPE they keep it, as it fits the bill with both calories and taste!  Panera, please don’t get rid of this salad, and you already ditched my last favorite!)


If you can resist the siren call of the Frappuccino and fatty lattes, then this is a great place to grab a quick breakfast on the go!  My favorites are the hot sandwiches, but keep in mind that not all Starbucks actually carry these (though, I think that they should!).  My favorite thing that Starbucks did, recently, is go all natural… I like to know that I can get good food without putting unwanted chemicals into my body.  We just need to place hope in truthful marketing, here, but I trust them.

My pick(s):  Egg White, Spinach & Feta Wrap (tops!), Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon Sandwich, OR Oatmeal!

All of the sites I’ve listed have the nutritional information and ingredients listed on their sites, but as I mentioned before, they are not the only ones doing this… they are just my frequent places to visit (and one recommended by a friend).
I go other places to eat, yes, but the article would go on forever if I listed all of my places.  So, here are a few ground rules to eating out:

1.) Check the website before you go for nutritional information.

2.) Special order… from holding the mayo, to swapping out sides (want veggies instead of fries?), to requesting no bun, to getting your salad dressing on the side… the opportunities are endless.  Restaurants want your business and waiters/waitresses want your tips, so don’t be afraid to get picky here.

3.) Things to avoid the majority of the time: excessive butter, creamy spreads and dressings (like mayo, ranch dressing, bleu cheese dressing, etc.), alcohol, pop/soda, fried foods, the red flags are usually pretty bright, but we usually choose to ignore them.  Most of us KNOW how to eat healthy, but we don’t.

4.) Fast food?  If you really crave a hamburger, then why not get yourself a kids meal hamburger with fruit as your side and low-fat milk as your beverage?  Less harm done, here.  Otherwise, go for grilled chicken (hold the mayo), various salads, broth-based soups, etc.

WANT MORE FOOD GUIDELINES?  Check out MICHI’S LADDER!  Following this guide helped me in losing 35 pounds!

Climb Michi’s Ladder


Eat to carve
your physique!

Michi’s Ladder is a guideline, but we leave it to
you to decide.If you only ate from Tiers 1 & 2, you would have a
near-perfect diet!

Tier 1: The Pious Tier

Tier 1: The Pious Tier

with skin Carb
Artichokes Carb Protein
Arugula Carb
Asparagus Carb
Avocados Fat
Beans Carb Fat Protein
Beets Carb
Bok choy Carb
Boysenberries Carb
Bran Carb
Broccoli Carb Protein
Broccoli sprouts Carb Protein
Brussels sprouts Carb
Cabbage Carb
Carrots Carb
Cauliflower Carb Protein
Celery Carb
Cereal, whole grain CarbFat Protein
Chard Carb Protein
Cherries Carb
Citrus fruits Carb

Collard greens Carb Protein
Cottage cheese, nonfat Protein
Cucumbers Carb
Egg whites Protein
Endive Carb
Fish, cold water (salmon,
mackerel, sardines) Fat Protein
Fish, freshwater Fat Protein
Flaxseed Fat
Garlic, fresh Carb
Granola, raw,
no sugar Carb Fat Protein
Hemp seed Fat
Kale Carb Protein
Lettuce, romaine, green or red
leaf Carb
Milk, nonfat Carb Protein
Milk, soy Carb Fat Protein
Muesli, raw,
no sugar Carb Fat Protein
Mushrooms Carb

Mustard Carb
Nectarines Carb
Oatmeal Carb Fat Protein
Olive oil Fat
Olives Fat
Onions Carb
Pears, with skin Carb
Peas Carb Protein
Peppers Carb
Plantains Carb
Prunes Carb
Radishes Carb
Raspberries Carb
Refried beans, nonfat Carb Protein
Rice, brown Carb
Salsa, natural, no sugar Carb
Seitan Carb Protein
Spinach Carb Protein
Squash Carb Protein
Strawberries Carb
Sweet potatoes Carb

Tea, green or black
Tempeh Carb Protein
Tofu Carb Protein
Tomato sauce, no sugar
Tomatoes Carb
Yams Carb
Yogurt, nonfat,
sugar Carb Protein

Tier 2:
The Happy Tier
Tier 2: The Happy Tier

skinless Carb
Bananas Carb
Blueberries Carb
Bread, whole grain Carb
Cantaloupe Carb
Cheese, nonfat Protein
Chicken, skinless white
meat Protein
Coffee, black or
cappuccino with nonfat milk Carb Protein
Corn Carb
Cottage cheese,

low-fat Fat Protein

Cream cheese, nonfat Protein
Duck, free-range Fat Protein
Eggplant Carb
Fish, farmed Protein
Granola or energy bar Carb
Grapes Carb
Hummus Carb Fat Protein
Juice, fresh-squeezed with
pulp, no sugar Carb
Kiwifruit Carb
Mangoes Carb
Meal replacement

bar Carb Fat Protein
Melon, honeydew Carb

Milk, 1% Carb Fat Protein
Nuts, raw Carb Fat Protein
Ostrich Fat Protein
Pancakes, buckwheat Carb Protein
Papayas Carb
Peaches Carb
Pineapple Carb
Plums Carb
Raisins Carb
Ricotta cheese, nonfat Protein
Soy nuts Carb Fat Protein
Soy sauce Carb
Squid Protein
String beans Carb Protein

Sunflower seeds Carb FatProtein

whole wheat Carb Fat Protein
Turkey breast Protein
Vegetable juice Carb Protein
Veggie burger Carb Fat Protein
Venison, free-range FatProtein
Watermelon Carb
Yogurt, no sugar Carb FatProtein
Zucchini Carb

Tier 3:
The Swiss Tier
Tier 3: The
Swiss Tier

A1 Steak Sauce Carb
Angel food cake Carb
Applesauce Carb
Bagels Carb
Beef, eye of round Fat Protein
Beef, London Fat Protein
Beef, top round Fat Protein
Canola oil Fat
Cheese, low-fat Fat Protein
Chicken, dark meat FatProtein
Chicken sandwich,

broiled Carb Fat Protein
Chicken taco,
Carb Fat Protein
Clams Protein

Coffee, cappuccino with whole milk
Carb Fat Protein
Crab Protein
Cream cheese,

low-fat Fat Protein
Eggs, whole Fat Protein
French fries, baked Carb
Fruit, dried Carb
Graham crackers Carb
Granola Carb Fat
Honey Carb
Jam or marmalade Carb
Jerky, turkey Protein
Juice, from concentrate Carb
Ketchup Carb

Lamb, lean Fat Protein
Lettuce, iceberg Carb
Lobster Protein
Mayonnaise Fat
Milk, 2% Carb Fat Protein
Muesli Carb Fat
Oatmeal, flavored Carb
Oysters Protein
Pancakes Carb
Pasta, plain Carb
Peanut butter, raw Fat Protein
Popcorn, plain Carb
Pork tenderloin Fat Protein
Potatoes, baked
or boiled Carb

Pretzels Carb
Refried beans,

low-fat Carb Fat Protein
Rice cakes Carb
Rice, white Carb
Sauerkraut Carb
Soup, canned broth CarbFat
Steak, lean Fat Protein

sauce Carb Fat

Veal cutlet Fat Protein
Wine, red Carb
Yogurt, frozen,
Carb Protein

Tier 2:
The Dodgy Tier
Tier 4: The Dodgy Tier

crackers Carb
Beef, filet mignon Fat Protein
Beef, lean ground Fat Protein
Beef, sirloin Fat Protein
Beef Stroganoff Fat Protein
Beer Carb
Bread, refined flour Carb
Buffalo Fat Protein
Butter Fat
Caesar salad, with chicken
Carb Fat Protein
Canadian bacon Fat Protein
Cheese (including bleu and
goat) Fat
Chili Carb Fat Protein
Chinese food Carb Fat Protein
Chips, low-fat, baked Carb
Coconut Fat

Coffee, iced mocha latte with
nonfat milk CarbProtein
Coffee, latte with
whole milk Carb Fat Protein
Coffee cake Carb Fat
Crackers Carb
Grilled cheese

sandwich Carb Fat
Ham Fat Protein
Hot dogs, turkey Fat Protein
Ice cream, sugar-free
or fat-free Carb
Jell-O Carb
Juice, sweetened Carb
Lamb chops Fat Protein
Lasagna, with meat FatProtein
Macaroni and cheese Carb Fat
Margarine Fat

Meat loaf Fat Protein
Mexican food Carb Fat Protein
Milk, whole Carb Fat Protein
Muffins Carb Fat
Nuts, salted or roasted Fat
Peanut butter,

not raw Carb Fat
Pepper, stuffed Fat
Pizza, meatless or Hawaiian style Carb Fat Protein
Popcorn, with salt and butter Carb Fat
Pork chop Fat Protein
Potato salad or
salad Carb Fat
Pudding, with
low-fat milk Carb Fat
Reuben sandwich Fat Protein

Sherbet Carb
Shrimp Protein
Sloppy Joe, lean beef
or turkey Fat Protein
Soft drinks, diet

Soup, canned creamy Carb Fat
meatballs Carb Fat Protein
Sub sandwich Carb Fat Protein
Taco salad,

with chicken Carb Fat Protein
Tortilla, refined
or corn Carb Fat
Tuna salad or

chicken salad Fat Protein
Vegetable oil Fat
Wine, white Carb
Yogurt, frozen Carb Fat Protein

Tier 5:
The Newburg Tier
Tier 5: The Newburg Tier

hard liquor
Bacon Fat Protein
Baked beans Carb Fat Protein
Beef, ground, regular Fat Protein
Beef taco, fried Fat Protein
Breakfast sandwich,
fast food Fat Protein
Cakes Carb Fat
Candy Carb
Cereal, sugared Carb
Chicken a la King Fat Protein
Chicken, buffalo wings
or nuggets Fat Protein
Chicken or fish
fried Fat Protein

Chips, potato or
corn Carb Fat
Chocolate Carb Fat
Cinnamon bun Carb Fat
Coffee, mocha, macchiato,
ice blended, frappé, triple caramel vanilla buzz bomb, etc. Carb Fat
Cookies Carb Fat
Cream cheese Fat
Creamed veggies Carb Fat
Creamer, nondairy Fat
Doughnuts Carb Fat
French fries Carb Fat
Gravy Fat
Hamburger, fast food Fat Protein

Hot dogs Fat Protein
Ice cream Carb Fat
Jerky, beef, pork,

or venison Protein
Juice, sugar added Carb
Lobster Newburg Fat Protein
Nachos Carb Fat
Onion rings Carb Fat
Pastries Carb Fat
Pies Carb Fat
Potato skins, fried Carb Fat
Potatoes, fried Carb Fat
Potpie Fat Protein
Refried beans,
with lard Carb Fat Protein

Salad dressing, creamy Fat
Sausage Fat Protein
Soft drinks, sugared Carb
Tater tots Carb

Leave a comment