Best to Avoid

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On the Med

BOOKMARK this page for your FREE guide to help you make the BEST menu choices on the healthy, sustainable Mediterranean diet!

Best Menu Choices by Cuisine:

Best Menu Choices at Popular Venues:

BOOKMARK this page on your phone so when you dine out you can make the BEST menu choices. And that means going On the Med: the healthy, sustainable Mediterranean diet.

Healthy Food What is the Mediterranean diet? It's the plant-forward way of eating that has historically been followed in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, and other olive-tree growing areas of the Mediterranean basin. Numerous studies have shown how people who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer, healthier lives. These days, most savvy health practitioners recommend going On the Med to lose weight, reduce blood sugar and cholesterol, normalize blood pressure, and prevent a wide array of chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, and dementia.

Going On the Med is not like going on a typical diet. It's not restrictive, you don't weigh and measure your food or count calories. And it's not a fad; it's a long-term healthy way to eat—and live. Since choices are mainly plant-based, the diet is more sustainable than the traditional American diet; it can help improve the nutritional value of crops and preserve biodiversity. So it's good for you, plants and animals, the planet.

What you do On the Med is eat well and exercise daily. Very doable. You choose fresh foods, mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, with moderate servings of eggs, seafood, fish, poultry, and fermented dairy like yogurt and feta cheese. You use olive oil in cooking and dressings, and enhance flavors with your favorite seasonings. A glass or two of red wine is also On the Med. Add a daily walk, swim, bike ride, or trip to the gym, and you're on target for a healthy life.

But what about when you're out and about or on the road? What if you're ordering takeout or dining out? How will you know what to eat to stay On the Med?

It's actually easy. Most fast casual and upscale restaurant menus these days include at least a few plant-based choices. Once you learn to recognize the good food selections, you'll be able to dine On the Med almost anywhere you go. The information here will help with that.

You can look above for a general overview of the best menu options by restaurant category: Italian, Greek, Deli, Brunch, etc. The long list which follows that provides the specific menu options currently available at more than 100 of the most popular national restaurant chains; the restaurants are listed in alphabetical order. Chains with no acceptable menu options are listed below; best to avoid these fast food chains.

Healthy Food Bookmark On the Med so you can pull up the lists whenever you need help ordering food for takeout or when dining out. Soon enough, you won't need to refer to the lists because you'll be familiar with and comfortable making the best choices On the Med.

Be aware that restaurant chefs and cooks may rely on options other than olive oil in cooking. They can be heavy handed with salt. They may use ingredients you might not suspect—or wish to consume. The produce at most restaurants is not organic. The chicken, fish, and shrimp are typically from factory farms. Same with the eggs. Restaurant chains do not always buy local or fresh foods, instead ordering from the centralized warehouses used by our industrial food supply. These are all good reasons why it's best to prepare your own meals. Dining out is fun and a nice treat. Just don't make restaurant food your main source of nutrition.

NOTE: Read menus carefully. Always ask your server to place a hold on ingredients you wish to avoid such as cheese, fried noodles, bacon, croutons, and dressings on salads; sauces on chicken or fish; non-whole grain breads and pastas; cheeses in omelets or other dishes; butter, sour cream, and chips. Salads and bowls are often a good choice, but be sure to have them made to order and ask for oil and vinegar or a vinaigrette on the side. Request whole-grain bread and wraps, brown rice, quinoa. Ask for feta or goat cheese. You can order extra vegetables with your meals, or side options may be combined to make a delicious vegetable plate. The best drink choices include hot coffee or tea, iced coffee or tea, water of course, and maybe a glass of wine. Avoid diet drinks and artificial sweeteners.

Best to Avoid:

Nothing On the Med on these menus:
  • A&W
  • Arby's
  • Baskin-Robbins
  • Blaze Pizza
  • Bojangles
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Burger King
  • Carl's Jr.
  • Charlie's Philly Steaks
  • Checkers
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chuck E. Cheese
  • Church's Texas Chicken
  • Cinnabon
  • Culver's
  • Dairy Queen
  • Domino's
  • Five Guys
  • Hardee's
  • Hunt Brothers Pizza
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Jack in the Box
  • Jack's Family Restaurants
  • Jersey Mike's
  • Jimmy John's
  • KFC
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Little Caesars
  • McDonald's
  • Nathan's Famous
  • Papa Murphy's
  • Pizza Hut
  • Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
  • Quiznos
  • Raising Cane's
  • Rally's
  • Shake Shack
  • Sonic
  • Taco Bell
  • Waffle House
  • White Castle
Healthy Food

Want to learn more? Check out Level Up, a free interactive nutrition education program.

All photos by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash.

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