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Eating Out on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Written by Linda Said, MS, RD, LDN and medically reviewed by Beth Holloway, RN, M. Ed
2020-12-15

Even though eating at restaurants may be challenging, you can still maintain your anti-inflammatory diet. I recommend reviewing restaurant menus beforehand, many are available online. It is easier when you plan ahead. You also may decide to even choose a different restaurant. Here are some ideas to consider, depending on the type of cuisine. 

Italian food

  • Cioppino is a fish or mixed seafood stew combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce. Ask the waiter if the base has heavy cream, and if they can make the dish to order, they can make it without any dairy. 

  • Grilled protein with a side of vegetables (I would suggest avoiding the mashed potatoes as they are usually loaded with butter and cream. I would suggest baked potato instead)

  • If you are in the mood for a pasta dish, request a whole wheat pasta with an olive oil-based sauce or vegetable sauce (marinara) and extra veggies with your choice of a baked or grilled fish or chicken. 

Asian food

  • Some Asian restaurants offer a build-your-own sushi wrap, bowl, or salad. Choose vegetables and opt for salmon or tuna as your source of protein. 

  • Start off with a miso soup or seaweed salad.

  • Be mindful about the amount of soy sauce as it has a lot of salt 

  • You can request that sushi rolls be made with brown rice for extra fiber. 

  • Stay away from fried tempura, sweet and mayonnaise-based sauces 

Indian food

Many spices used in Indian cooking are anti-inflammatory:

  • Choose a sauce that is not creamy. I recommend curry or dal (a lentil- or garbanzo-based dish) 

  • Palak paneer (Indian cottage cheese cooked with spinach and flavorful spices) is a great side dish

  • Order “Tandoori” proteins like fish or chicken. Tandoor is basically a method of cooking where the protein is grilled and all the flavor comes from the meat and marinade.

Fast food

  • If you are making your own sandwich or bowl, be mindful of processed deli meats and cream-based dressings or sauces. Try to include as many vegetables as you can.

  • A taco bowl with leafy greens, beans, guacamole, tomato salsa, and a lean protein of your choice is a good option for an “on-the-go meal."

  • Chicken or seafood fajitas are also another option to consider. They have lean protein with a variety of vegetables (often, mixed bell peppers, onions, and even mushrooms). 

  • Burgers replacement: Most fast food places offer salad. This is a better side dish than French fries. You can replace the high fat salad dressing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can request the burger to be placed in a lettuce wrap rather than a traditional bun.

Travel and Vacation

When you’re traveling or on vacation, I recommend carrying anti-inflammatory snacks with you, or by some at a local grocery store. Here are some great options: 

  • Dark chocolate

  • Protein bars (make sure you read the ingredients and watch out for added sugars)

  • Individually packaged nut butters

  • Individually packaged nuts or trail mix 

  • Seeds

  • Popcorn

Another way to maintain an anti-inflammatory diet is by meal planning at home. When most meals are prepared from scratch, you’re already on the right direction towards following an anti-inflammatory diet. Goodpath has complete, customized programs that help you manage your digestive health. The first step? Our free assessment. It allows us to find out more about your needs and to provide your personalized program.