Eating out at cafes and restaurants is a time to enjoy ourselves, indulge in different foods and cuisines, and not worry about doing any cooking and cleaning…the dream!

For some individuals dining out is a novelty, whereas for others it’s a regular part of their social life and work schedule.

Regular dining out and eating healthier can absolutely fit in with a social life - it’s just about making the ‘better’ possible choice with the situation you’re in. It’s also about allowing for flexible eating - sometimes we just want a piece of cake, and that’s okay! Never feel guilty for treating yourself - it’s all a part of a balanced lifestyle.  

Today we’re chatting through our top tips to keep front of mind with making healthier choices when dining out. Starting with some quick-fire tricks…

  • When choosing a restaurant think ahead - look online at their menu and ideally go for one with a wide range of items (to also accommodate those you’re eating with) or that’s accommodating to your health and wellness goals.

  • Many restaurants serve large portions, sometimes enough for another meal. Aim to eat to your hunger cues and portions, and save extras for another meal!

  • Ask for extra veggies to be added to your dish to bump up the nutritional content. Check out the sides on the menu for what add on’s are available.

  • Meals that are baked, grilled, poached, sauteed, smoked or steamed, are generally healthier cooking techniques. Items that are crispy, deep-fried, breaded, coated or battered are better off as treats.

  • Ask for dressing on the side so you can control the portion e.g. eggs benedict. satay…

  • When eating out on-the-run - options where you can control how the meal is made are ideal! Ideas include Tank and Pita Pit, both chains throughout Auckland, which are typically in most suburbs.

When selecting a meal from a cafe/restaurant, aim to follow the balanced plate portions as a general guide (remember our blog post from week #1!):

  • Aim for half the meal is made up of vegetables - remember to ask for an extra side salad if meals are lacking in vegetables.

  • Aim for a portion of protein (e.g. chicken, fish, eggs, meat, beans….) to be around a palm size.

  • Aim for a portion of carbohydrates around a fist size or less, and that it’s as least processed as possible eg. rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta, potato, kumara, pumpkin, beans or legumes.

  • Aim for a few portions of fat, but be mindful not to overdo it. When it comes to salad dressings and sauces you can ask for them on the side so you can control how much you use of them. This can work well in dishes like egg benedicts or salads.

Here are our recommendations on what foods to enjoy off the menu, and what foods (to still enjoy) but chose more in moderation, based around the most common cuisines:




  • Stir-fried meat, fish or tofu with colourful veggies

  • Thai beef or chicken salad

  • Broth-based soups e.g. Tom Yum

  • Steamed fish

  • Summer rolls aka fresh spring rolls (these are made with rice paper)

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Deep-fried anything e.g. spring rolls, curry puffs, fish cakes and moneybags

  • Noodle-based dishes e.g Pad Thai (for a more balanced dish ask for extra veggies and protein, and less noodles!)

  • Creamy curries e.g. green/red/yellow curry

  • Fried rice

  • Heavy sauces (often high in sugar, oil and fat)




  • Tandoori chicken or prawns with vegetables and steamed rice (brown, basmati, jasmine)

  • Dhal - dish made with lentil/pulses (packed with dietary fibre!)

  • Yoghurt or tomato based sauces in curries

  • Roti (typically made with whole-wheat flour, and thinner than naan)

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Cream-based curries e.g. Butter Chicken & Korma

  • Deep-fried samosa, pakora and bhaji

  • Stuffed or butter naan




  • Sashimi

  • Edamame beans (packed with fibre and plant-based protein!)

  • Salmon and avocado sushi, or tuna sushi (if possible go for a double protein-roll)

  • Miso soup

  • Teppanyaki grilled meat and vegetables

  • Seaweed salad (rich source of the mineral iodine!)

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Tempura dishes

  • Teriyaki sauces (high in sugar!)

  • Mayonnaise-based sauces (often made with vegetable oils)

  • Katsu or fried chicken/beef/pork

  • Larger quantities of soy sauce (be mindful due to sodium intake)




  • Thin crispy base pizza

  • Marinara or napoletana pasta (tomato-based)

  • Minestrone soups

  • Chicken Marasala with vegetables

  • Rocket or caprese side salads

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Thick or stuffed-crust pizzas

  • Creamy pasta e.g. pasta alfredo, carbonara (energy-dense sauce)

  • Salami or cured meats (high in sodium)




  • Steamed fish

  • Steamed dumplings

  • Veggie-packed stir-fries

  • Wonton or rice noodle soup with protein

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Traditional sweet and sour pork

  • Fried dumplings

  • Deep fried spring rolls

  • Fried rice




  • Kebab - your choice of protein, veggies, tabouli,  hummus and cheese, rolled in a pita (go easy on sauces!)

  • Rice dish with salad, your choice of protein and a hummus/yoghurt dressing

  • Grilled chicken and fresh salad dishes

  • Lamb or chicken skewers

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Combos with fries

  • Extra sauces in kebabs or on rice dishes



  • Grilled chicken or fish with fresh salad or steamed veggies

  • Thin crust pizza

  • Salads with protein-rich foods as a base

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Fries

  • Battered fish

  • Thick or stuffed-crust pizzas




  • Eggs cooked your way with toast and veggies on the side e.g. sauteed spinach, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes

  • Roast veggie and egg frittata

  • Porridge with fresh or stewed fruit

  • Muesli with yoghurt and fresh fruit

  • Toast (multigrain and sourdough) spread with avocado or nut butter

  • Roast veggie salad with protein

Treat yourself in moderation

  • Pancakes with syrup

  • Sausage rolls or pies

  • Sweet slices, cakes and biscuits

  • Large hot drinks with added syrups and creams




  • Freshly made grainy bread sandwiches or wraps with a protein-rich food (e.g. chicken, egg, tuna) and salad

  • Fruit and yoghurt tubs

Treat yourself in moderation:

  • Sausages rolls, pies, thick pizzas slabs

  • Doughnuts and muffins

This blog was written especially for our friends at Westpac NZ, who we’re excited to be assisting with their workplace wellbeing this year. It’s thrilling to see a company go the extra mile for their staff!