Guide to Dining Out

Dining Out in restaurants and pubs should be a pleasurable experience but many people worry about the suitability of the foods! The list below is intended as a guide to the fat content of various meals. It is suggested that some types of foods are avoided, but we all know that in certain circumstances this is not always possible.

As long as such meals are eaten only occasionally it will not affect the overall balance of fats in the diet. It is when these meals are eaten several times a week that the overall fat content of the diet becomes too high, with too much saturated fat.

So, choose carefully and enjoy it!

pub food

indian restaurants

english restaurants

italian restaurants

Fish & chip shops

Chinese restaurants


More Information on Dining Out

Pub Meals


  • Baked potatoes with a low fat filling. Tuna fish, cottage cheese, baked beans or salad type fillings are the most suitable.
  • Stews or chilli’s are acceptable as long as the meat used is lean (have a look at the meat if it’s on display).
  • Cold chicken, ham or any other lean meat salad is acceptable, but ensure that all the visible fat is cut off and remove the skin from the chicken.
  • Salad portions are a good choice. Even ones in mayonnaise or salad cream are acceptable as these dressings are made with sunflower oil.
  • Sandwiches made of wholemeal bread are a good choice. Although choose cottage cheese over hard cheese. Lean meats, fish or sea food are acceptable. Ask for flora rather than butter in your sandwiches.


  • Ploughmans lunches with cheddar cheese (ask for cottage cheese instead, and ask for Flora instead of butter).
  • Sausages, pate, meat pies and hamburgers should be avoided as far as possible.
  • Chips should be avoided as the oil they have been cooked in is unlikely to be polyunsaturated.Quiches are high in fat, mainly because of the pastry. If this is chosen, vegetable or sea-food quiches are not too high in fat.
  • Toasted sandwiches – they are usually made with butter.

Indian Restaurants

Ghee is often the fat used to cook with, which is very saturated (this includes butter ghee, vegetable ghee and palm ghee). Vegetable oils are becoming more widely used but remember that vegetable oils are not necessarily polyunsaturated. Again, the most sensible thing to do is to assume the fat used is not suitable and so try to avoid oily/fatty dishes as much as possible.


  • Plain naan bread
  • Poppadoms (if roasted/grilled rather than deep fried)
  • Chicken dishes with rice
  • Vegetable dishes e.g. Bombay Aloo, Sag Aloo
  • “Dry” dishes without sauce e.g. Chicken Tikka
  • Fruit salad, mango and other fruits, plain flavoured ice-cream and sorbets are acceptable
  • Coffee – no cream!!


  • Pooris (deep fried bread) and paranthas
  • Samosas and other fried dishes
  • Lamb dishes (lamb tends to be a fatty dish)
  • Dishes containing coconut
  • Dishes containing cream
  • Gravy from the dishes as this contains the most fat – try to have just the meat and vegetables
  • Halva is made with full cream milk and oil and so is high in fat
  • Kulfi (indian ice-cream) is made with full fat milk and cream so is not suitable

English Restaurants


  • Vegetable or clear soups
  • Melon/grapefruit for starters
  • Ask for Flora instead of butter for rolls
  • Salads without heavy dressings such as blue cheese
  • Grilled foods
  • Lean meats
  • Grilled/baked fish
  • Vegetables and potatoes without butter
  • Fruit Salad (no cream!!
  • Plain flavoured ice-cream or sorbets are good choices
  • Jelly, blancmange, creme caramel or fruit flan on a sponge base are also acceptable for desserts


  • “Cream of” soups
  • Fried foods
  • Cheese or cream sauces
  • Vegetables and potatoes glazed with butter or hard margarine – ask for them without
  • Desserts such as gateaux, pies, cheesecakes, chocolate desserts
  • Cream added on desserts as decoration or extra
  • Cheeseboard
  • Cream on desserts or in coffee

Italian Restaurants

Olive oil and sunflower oil are sometimes used to cook with – both of which are suitable. However, groundnut (peanut) oil, vegetable oil or butter may also be used which are not suitable. The most sensible thing to do is to assume that the fat used is not suitable and avoid fatty dishes as much as possible. Some places may not mind you asking about the oils they use, then you can act accordingly.


Pizzas are generally high in fat, mainly because of the cheese. Parmesan, Mozzarella and Gorgonzola are common cheeses used – all high in saturated fat.


  • Pizzas which do not have cheese in their name and ask for less or no cheese to be added
  • Seafood, tuna, chicken and vegetable pizzas are acceptable but watch the cheese!


  • ones containing cured meats and sausages such as pepperoni, salami, mortadella, cotechino, luganega which are all high in saturated fat.


Pasta dishes with cheese also tend to be high in saturated fat


  • The ones with cheese or cream sauce , and go for ones in tomato sauce or lean meat sauce.



Salads in olive oil or sunflower oil dressing are fine. Ricotta cheese is a medium fat curd cheese which is acceptable occasionally

Garlic Bread


  • Dripping with saturated fat – try to avoid! Ask for plain dough bread or dough balls instead.



  • Fruit salad (without cream) is a good choice or a little vanilla or flavoured ice-cream. Blancmange or jelly and creme caramel are alright occasionally
  • Sorbets are fine as they are made with water
  • Fruit flans on a sponge base are alright but avoid any cream decorations



  • Imitation creams such as Dessert Top, Elmlea, Dream Topping as well as dairy creams.
  • Cheesecakes, pies, fudge cakes, gateaux etc. as all are high in saturated fat.

Fish and Chips

Very little from fish and chip shops is suitable because of the oils used to cook with. They are rarely polyunsaturated oils, because the same oil is used again and again, the oil gradually becomes more saturated. Fish and chip shops are best avoided.


Chinese Restaurants

Blended vegetable oil is commonly used to cook with – which is not necessarily polyunsaturated. Sesame oil is often used to give flavour – this is polyunsaturated oil and so acceptable but only if small quantities are used. Peanut oil might also be used which is not suitable as it is quite saturated. As before, the sensible thing to do is to assume the oil is not suitable and try to avoid oily/fatty dishes as far as possible. Seasoning used in Chinese cookery are often derived from soyabeans e.g. soy sauce, bean pasta, bean curd: all of which are acceptable, although often very salty.


  • Soups
  • Boiled rice & boiled noodles
  • Vegetable dishes
  • Chicken dishes
  • Fish & seafood dishes including prawns (not fried or in batter).
  • Bean curd dishes
  • Cashew nut dishes


  • Fried noodles
  • Fried rice
  • Fried vegetables
  • Pork dishes (unless pork is lean)
  • Prawns in batter

Skip to toolbar