11 Nutritionists Reveal What They Order At Popular Food Chains

Written by Gabrielle Frank

When you're on the road, on the go, or on vacation, it's not always easy to eat clean. If you want to eat healthy (and given that you're reading this website, you probably do!) a simple strategy is to look for items that most closely resemble whole, real foods.

For more specific tips, we quizzed eleven nutritionists, a physician who specializes in women's health and a popular health coach on how they navigate national food chains so you'll be ready the next time you wind up at one of these restaurants. Find out what options appeal to them and what tweaks they make:

Le Pain Quotidien's Avocado Toast

"Any time you're at a chain restaurant, try to eat items that are less refined. Avoid processed sugars and look out for fresh leafy greens and whole foods," advises Mikaela Reuben, a culinary nutritionist and health consultant.

"At Le Pain Quotidien, I order the avocado toast with whole-wheat sourdough and soft boiled eggs or smoked salmon and side greens," says Reuben. "Make your own dressing of olive oil and lemon. In a perfect world the eggs would be farm fresh and the salmon would be wild, but that's not always achievable."

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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Panera Bread's Cobb Salad

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, a naturopathic physician and certified nutrition consultant, searches for Panera Bread when she's on the road. "I’ll typically grab a chicken cobb salad with avocado and vinaigrette dressing, minus the gorgonzola cheese. I like to top it off with coffee or a green tea!"

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

In-N-Out Burger In A Lettuce Bun

"I rarely indulge in fast food," says Elissa Goodman, a certified holistic nutritionist. "But when I'm craving a burger, I'll go to In-N-Out and order it 'Protein Style,' and they replace the bun with a lettuce leaf. I get it with grilled onions, tomatoes and mustard, instead of their secret sauce." Though In-N-Out Burger isn't available in all 50 states (it's a West Coast chain with a cult-like following), this is great advice that you can apply to any of your favorite burger joints.

"The meat is free of additives, fillers and preservatives," adds Goodman. "It's not quite organic or grass-fed. Still, it's nothing to feel bad about if you need a burger fix on occasion!"

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Pret A Manger's Gazpacho Soup + Spinach And Egg Bowl

"At Pret A Manger, I usually pick whatever their vegan, gluten-free veggie soup of the day is," says Robin Berzin, a physician and health coach, who specializes in women's nutrition and health. "It changes all of the time, but one soup I'm loving this summer is the gazpacho. I'll usually pair it with the Spinach and Hard-Boiled Egg Bowl for added protein. That way I stay full!"

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Quiznos Create Your Own Sandwich

"I've eaten at Quiznos in airports and have the perfect recipe for a healthy meal," says Talia Pollock, holistic health coach and author of the blog, Party In My Plants. "Choose the 'Create Your Own' option — select a whole-grain roll with avocado or guacamole, and ask for every single veggie they offer — times two, even if you have to beg or negotiate! I add a bit mustard to dress the sandwich. It is really delish!"

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Chipotle's Salad With Chicken, Black Beans, Fajita Vegetables, Fresh Tomato Salsa + Half A Side of Guacamole

"This order is packed with fiber and protein," says Bonne Taub-Dix, RDN, owner of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It. "My suggestion is to put half on a plate and save the rest for later (for a satisfying afternoon snack) or for lunch the next day. Most of their meals look a lot bigger when you put them on your own plates!”

Photo courtesy of Chipotle

Starbucks' Oatmeal With Blueberries + Nuts

"I am a big fan of the oatmeal at Starbucks," says Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RDN and author of The Smart Girl's Guide To Going Vegetarian. "When I'm on the go and need breakfast, I rely on the oatmeal with blueberries and nuts along with a breakfast tea. And if it's mid day and I need a snack, I often get a tea along with a KIND bar — most flavors are surprisingly low in sugar for a sweet treat, and the fiber and protein from the nuts make the bars a satisfying option."

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

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Red Lobster's Salmon With Broccoli + A Sweet Potato

"This is my go-to order at Red Lobster," says Robyn Cole, RD and author of the blog The Real-Life RD. "It provides a good combination of protein, fat and starch. Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate that won't spike your blood sugar along with being loaded with beta carotene and broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable full of prebiotics which we need to nourish our gut flora (the probiotics)."

Photo courtesy of Red Lobster

Jimmy John's Unwich®

"For lunch, I love to go to Jimmy John's to get their lettuce wraps or 'unwiches,'" says Alicia Anskis, MS, RD, LDN and nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. "I usually choose turkey and customize it with tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts and heart-healthy avocado spread. It's like eating a portable salad!"

Photo courtesy of Jimmy John's

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Ruby Tuesday's Salad Bar

"At Ruby Tuesdays, the make-your-own-salad bar is a great option to pack in plenty of veggies," says Rachael Hartley, RD, LD and author of the blog, Avocado A Day Nutrition. "Try beans topped over a vegetarian salad, they provide both protein and a source of unprocessed carbohydrate. To keep your salad interesting, add a small sprinkle of one or two more decadent and flavorful toppers, like crumbled bacon or blue cheese. A little goes a long way!"

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Subway's Fresh Fit 6-Inch

“At Subway, the Fresh Fit menu is always a great choice,” says Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD and author of the blog Make Healthy Easy, who opts for their Black Forest Ham & Cheese Sandwich.

“Choose the 9-grain wheat, 9-grain honey oat bread, or multigrain flatbread because they contain a significant amount of whole grains and more fiber."

When it comes to dressing your sandwich, “High flavor condiments like Dijon mustard and vinegar are great options,” says Braddock. “Then pile on the veggies. I like tomatoes, peppers, spinach, black olives and cucumbers on my sub, but there's no wrong way to dress up a sandwich with vegetables.”

Outback Steakhouse's Victoria's Six-Ounce Filet With Seasonal Veggies + A Sweet Potato

"I love a good steak, so at Outback Steakhouse, this is my go-to order," says Emily Hein, RDN, LD and author of the blog Zen & Spice. "Whenever I eat out, I am very sodium conscious because of how high the sodium count is at some restaurants. This meal has 36 grams of protein and 530 milligrams of sodium — which is a pretty good combo!"

Photo courtesy of Outback Steakhouse

Cover photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Chipotle's Burrito Bowl With Sofritas, Brown Rice, Black Beans, Fajita Vegetables + Guacamole

"When I'm on the road, I always look out for Chipotle, my favorite fast-food restaurant," says Hartley. "This is my favorite combination for both flavor and nutrition — it has a little bit of everything like protein, veggies and healthy grains."

Photo courtesy of Chipotle

And are you ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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