Eating Healthier When Dining Out

Today my wife Laurice and I are going to talk about healthy eating on the go and specifically one of our favorite smoothie places. Certainly one of the things that we enjoy is going out to eat. We also want to make it a part of the way we live a healthy lifestyle. So, it’s important for us to understand how we make the decisions about what to eat when we go out and how we develop the healthier habits when we are out and on the go.


The first thing we do is look at the menu. What’s nice about Tropical Smoothie is that they break down everything on the menu, including what’s in all the different dishes and they even give you the calories, but you still need to be a little bit careful because there can be hidden things. For example, there are strawberries but are they fresh or are they preserved with added sugar.  You can really order a lot of calories in a smoothie if you’re not careful.


At another location we visit from time-to-time, they have a smoothie called a “Hulk Strawberry”.  That smoothie has more calories than a Burger King double cheeseburger with fries.  Now, if I look at the menu here at Tropical Smoothie and check out something like the Detox Island Green smoothie with spinach, kale, mango, pineapple and bananas, and ginger, at 180 calories, I’d be hungry before I walked out the door.

I like the Health Nut, the blueberries (a lot of antioxidants), I’ll probably add some peanut butter just to give me even a few more calories which are okay for me, I had a good workout this morning.

When I go out to eat I recommend you limit sugar, refined grains, like white bread and processed foods in general. I also recommend adding more fiber, as I have done with adding kale to the Health Nut smoothie that I ordered.  You should also eliminate juices that are meant to sweeten for taste (like apple juice) but add too much sugar.

Substitutions really don’t make much of a price difference either. Just makes your meal a little healthier, not more expensive.

People are often challenged with how to eat healthy on the go. Science suggests limiting sugar, refined grains, processed foods while adding more vegetables and fruits and more whole foods.

It’s also a good idea to get something in a bowl, as opposed to having it in a wrap if you are trying to lose weight.


Some will tell you to order smaller portions when dining out (if you are on a weight loss program). There is some recent research that explains why the quality of food you order maybe more important. This study, published in JAMA, found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains, and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

This is even when scientists are looking at genetic testing to understand if we are more sensitive to a low-carb diet vs a low-fat diet.

What matters is the quality of food choices you make.  You can read more about the study here @nytimes The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds.

Intentional Thinking, Acting and Connecting

As someone who has been an integrative physician for the last 20 + years, I have obviously been exposed to this concept of mindfulness, the ability to be present and “in the moment”.  When you think of it, mindfulness is just the ability to be present, to be here now, not in your mind wandering to the past or future.

I absolutely agree, to be present and in the moment is important to helping us connect with people and to live our best lives.  However, at least for me, often, just being present alone isn’t enough to get me the outcomes I desire. So, along with some colleagues, I began to develop this concept called “informed mindfulness“.


You need to be present and in the moment but you also need the knowledge, so that while you are present, you can make choices that facilitate different kinds of outcomes for you.

I began to think more about this and I began to talk to friends and colleagues and morphed the thinking to this idea of intentionality. Asking myself questions like “What am I really trying to do right now?” “What do I really want out of this situation?” “What is my why?”

There must be something pretty special about waking up in the morning and having a clear sense of why the day matters.

True health and wellness transformation starts with a deep and honest exploration of our “why?”.

Do What Feels Purposeful

Other questions that have helped me grow – “What am I motivated by today?” What is meaningful for me now? How does what I am doing relate to living my best life?  You could break it down into this concept of being intentional with at least these three main areas of your daily life.

Intentional Thinking

kettlebellWe create needless suffering for ourselves when we don’t take the time to think with intention. We allow our minds to wander and tell ourselves lies about ourselves, about others and about a potential future that we are envisioning and all the disasters and terrible things that could happen to us.

thinking intentionSometimes we let our minds wander to things that have happened in the past while reinterpreting and adding a new meaning to them.  So, I believe, one of the keys to living a life that feels fulfilling while lessening that suffering, is to be present and to actually ask yourself, am I thinking with intention?

Is my thinking consistent with what I know to be the facts? Is my thinking consistent with my values and my beliefs on a deeper level? Is my thinking in line with the vision I have for myself? Does it align with how I want to show up in this world?

Of course, all of this thinking then needs to translate into how you act. Is your behavior consistent with your thinking?

Intentional Acting

Is your behavior in alignment with how you want to show up in this world? For example, are you speaking to others with intention? Do you sometimes lash out at others when you don’t mean to? If you do, is that really intentional? This is not about judgment. I am not passing judgment about what your actions should or shouldn’t be, but the question is, Are your actions intentional?

Intentional Connection

Then the third thing that came up is this idea of connection. We need to be able to connect to ourselves to understand what is truly important for us. We also need a connection to others and connection to nature and our environment as a way to round off an approach to living our best lives. When we are not connecting in an intentional way, a piece of the puzzle is missing from living our best lives and living a life that is consistent with our values.

values.pngA value is really just a direction we want to take in our lives. It comes from what we believe is important and purposeful to us.

So we need to be able to act, think and connect with intention and that stems from an ability to be present in the moment. To be awake and to be aware, right here and now.


Join Me on a Journey of True Health & Well-Being

Hi, I’m Dr. Adam Perlman. I am the former Associate Vice President of Health & Wellness for The Duke University Health System as well as Executive Director of Duke Integrative Medicine.  I currently hold the position of Director of the Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare.  As a practitioner of functional medicine, I have spent my entire career trying to help people take a more comprehensive, holistic approach as they address their health concerns while optimizing their vitality and living their best life.

You see, the world of medicine and the healthcare system, in general, is moving from a disease-centric approach to a systems biology that addresses the individual as a whole.

I believe, like many, that the healthcare model of tomorrow will be very different. It will be equally predictive, preventative, personalized and participatory. 

  • Predictive meaning medicine will incorporate genomics to determine the probability of disease.
  • Preventative allowing people to know their individual risk profile, which will motivate them to make changes before they get sick.
  • They will receive personalized recommendations, namely targeted and specific interventions and treatment.
  • Finally, people will feel empowered and encouraged to engage in personal choices that are participatory, meaning patients will finally team up with the physicians to get to the root of their health problems. 

In the meantime, I urge all of us to become experts about our own health and wellness.


I think you will agree that there’s a lot of confusing information out there about how to care for your health and well-being. What are we confused about? Well, some of the things I find confusing are simple, like what kind of eggs do I need to buy nowadays? There are at least ten choices out there.


What about probiotics and the microbiota? What about all of this bacteria in my gut? Should I take a probiotic? If so, what kind? How many strains? How many colony forming units?



All of the information out there can be very confusing and very misleading.

So what do I personally do? Well, I use my medical training and knowledge try to sift through the information while looking for the evidence. This enables me to make the best decisions for myself while helping inform my family and friends and frankly, I want to do the same for you, and help you become an expert on you.

Information Empowers You with Freedom of Choice

Ultimately, it is about our freedom of choice, because if we’re operating with incomplete information or misinformation, perhaps because it was put on the internet by the company that makes the product, then we don’t truly have freedom of choice.

I believe that with reliable information, we can make reasonable decisions about our health and well being and as I have said earlier, live our best life, while optimizing our vitality.

I am curious about anything that makes us look and feel great, including complementary and alternative treatments like cryotherapy, acupuncture, isolation float tanks, elimination diets and more.

I intend to report about my experiences here and invite you to join me on this health and well-being journey.

If you’re interested, follow me for some Perlz of Healthy Wisdom.

Pura Vida,