Healthy Eating at Applebee’s—And Other Similar Chain Restaurants!

Our clients always ask us what we eat when we eat out. After all, we love dining out like anyone else does– and we like to keep it healthy and tasty too!

One of the keys to eating out is learning how to make the best choices and making the most from the tough menus—but more on that in the next several weeks!

One of our fantastic interns, Rachael Heilner, recently went to Applebee’s and checked out some of their healthier dishes—and reported them to us so that we could give you the scoop on how to order at Applebee’s and other chain restaurants!

“Image” reprinted with permission from “www.pickledplum.com” and www.healthyaperture.com.


1.   Check out their under 550 calorie options. (At many chains like Fridays, too, they now offer lighter menus with calorie ranges to help you to make good decisions). While Applebee’s only has 4 dishes that are less than 550 calories, they’ll be sure to fill you up and leave you, most likely, with leftovers. So look for the little green apple symbol with “550” and these are your lean choices. Napa Chicken and Portabellas looks delish to try!
2.      Check out their dishes endorsed by Weight Watchers. (This too is a common practice on menus). Again, there are few dishes at 3, which is a downside, but they are healthy options, like Lemon Parmesan Shrimp!
3.   Check out their lunch combos. (Lunch sizes are generally smaller and lunch options often allow you to go for half of a heavier and half of a lighter option so that you can have salads and half sandwiches rather than the whole sandwich—or shall we say rather than the whole “enchildada”?!) At Applebee’s they are fairly inexpensive and light on the calories! Great combo in our book! They can mix and match soup, salads and sandwiches. While the selection is limited, the combinations are endless and it fills you up!
4.      For any restaurant: Don’t be afraid to ask to look at their nutritional guide, they should all have one! Ask for dressings and sauces on the side so you can put a smaller amount than what they normally do. And NEVER EVER be afraid to substitute those greasy and fattening french fries for a side salad or a side of veggies!

If you’re feeling extra zealous try this:  Even with the lower calorie menu options, ask that a carb with the meal be swapped for a steamed veggie.  After all, we tend to not necessarily need 550 calories at one meal, and maybe you’d rather use that carb elsewhere in your day.

While all restaurants have some very appetizing dishes, be sure to watch out for excess calories you may be consuming since often there’s hidden sugars, fats, etc that they can add that you don’t see and they certainly don’t tell you.  So take advantage of those menus that tell you about the calories in your meal!

What are some of your tips you follow when eating out?

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