Section: Make DASH Work for You

DASH Dining Tips


Preparation is Everything 

  • Find a restaurant with a menu that offers DASH-friendly choices.  Many restaurants have websites, so go online to review the menu and map out a strategy ahead of time.

Avoid the Urge to Splurge! 

  • Eating away from home is not a vacation from healthy eating.  Adjust your attitude and commit to ordering healthful meals instead of rationalizing that restaurant meals don’t count.
  • If you have a hankering to indulge on something special, share it with a friend or plan your day around fewer calories, fat and sodium. 

Don’t Arrive at the Restaurant Ravenous

  • Don’t skip meals to “save up” calories.  It’s easy to succumb to a feeding frenzy when you’re over hungry. 
  • Have a small snack, such as an apple or glass of milk to curb your hunger before heading out.

Balance Your Choices 

  • If you choose a meal that does not include servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy, vegetables or fruit, make a special effort to eat plenty of those foods earlier or later in the day.

Avoid Portion Distortion

  • If you are a lifetime member of the “clean your plate” club, request a smaller portion, or order an appetizer instead of an entrée. 
  • Split an entrée with your dining partner, or put half of it in a to-go container before you start eating.

Have it Your Way

Don’t be shy.  Ask questions, make special requests or ask for substitutions

  • Ask to substitute a green salad or steamed vegetables for the French fries 
  • Ask for sauces, gravies, butter, sour cream and salad dressings on the side
  • Ask if dishes can be prepared with less fat and oils. 
  • Be the first person in your dining party to order so that you are not “swayed” to change your mind

Savor the Flavor (without Salt)

Restaurants want their food to taste good, right?  It’s no secret that salt enhances flavor and restaurants tend to use plenty of it to please our palates. 

  • Ask that your meal be prepared without salt, MSG or salt-containing ingredients
  • Select fresh, lean meat, fish, and poultry, rather than smoked, pickled, or cured  
  • Limit high-sodium condiments like mustard, horseradish, ketchup, barbecue sauce, pickles, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and prepared salad dressings
  • Substitute lemon, oil & vinegar or a vinaigrette on the side for prepared salad dressings
  • Ask that sauces be served on the side

Mindful Meals

Eat slowly, taste and savor the food on the plate in front of you.  Stop eating for a few minutes halfway through the meal and evaluate your level of fullness.  It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is full.  Give the brain time to do its job and you’ll be less likely to overeat.  Eating is one of life’s pleasures.  Dining out should be an occasion that nourishes the soul as well as the body, so enjoy it! 


  • Try a broth- or tomato-based soup with vegetables and beans
  • Order a mixed green salad, fresh fruit, or a vegetable plate
  • Share steamed clams or mussels, or a shrimp cocktail
  • If you choose the salad bar start with a pile of fresh greens and add vegetables, beans and a sprinkle of cheese, and leave the rest behind
  • If bread is served choose a small slice and go easy on the butter, or politely decline the bread altogether


  • Select entrées prepared with simple, healthy cooking methods; baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted, steamed or stir-fried 
  • Avoid entrées that are described as breaded and/or fried, creamed, crispy, as well as stuffed, buttered or basted, and covered with gravy or sauce 
  • Avoid high-fat meats, such as skin-on poultry, hot dogs, sausages and fatty cuts of beef, pork or lamb.


  • DASH-friendly side dishes include baked potatoes, boiled new potatoes, brown rice and roasted or steamed vegetables 
  • Avoid French fries, onion rings, and vegetables smothered in cheese, cream sauces or hollandaise sauce
  • Ask to substitute seasonal vegetables, a salad or a cup of soup for fried or rich side dishes


  • Fresh or baked fruit, sorbet, sherbet, fruit ice, or unfrosted cake served with fresh fruit or fruit coulis are great DASH dessert choices.  Remember, fruit is nature’s perfect dessert.
  • Limit foods with added sugar to special occasions, choose a small portion or share with a friend

Think Before You Drink 

Alcohol packs plenty of calories but no nutrients.  Alcohol consumption not only increases blood pressure, it also tends to increase appetite, resulting in overeating.  Choose no- or low-calorie beverages like water, club soda with a twist, diet soda, 100% fruit juice, tea or coffee before moving on to alcohol.  If you do choose an alcoholic beverage, stick to moderation- one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men.