How to Eat Lunch Out & Stay Healthy (Plus our favorite restaurants in Boulder!)

I eat lunch out a lot and from the survey, we learned that many of you do as well. In general, eating out is obviously not ideal from a health standpoint. You want to eat healthy but then find yourself with friends at The Rio eating Mexican food. Of course now you need some chips and salsa (like a whole basket of chips, maybe two because you’re starving) and then everyone else is having a margarita so shouldn’t you as well. So you’re kind of setting yourself up to either feel deprived or to make a suboptimal choice. However, if you put a little thought into choosing restaurants with some healthy options that you like, then it doesn’t have to be an unhealthy choice.

Here are some things to consider:

#1: Will they have something that I like that’s healthy? Yes you can probably get chicken with a steamed veggie at most places but do they have something healthy that you love to eat? Try to find things that you love so you don’t feel deprived and then steer you friends and family in the direction of those restaurants. You’ll be doing them and yourself a favor.

#2: Where do they source their ingredients? If most of their food is coming off of the Sysco truck, then it’s not going to be a very nutrient dense meal…even if it’s a salad with grilled chicken. The nutritional benefits you get from lettuce that you get from a local farm are very different than what you get from lettuce off an industrialized food distribution truck. We’re so lucky because I’ve never been to another city anywhere that has so many restaurants that are conscious of where their ingredients come from. Some restaurants that source local ingredients include: The Kitchen, Zeal, Fresh Thymes, Blooming Beets, Shine, Chautauqua Dining Hall, Oak, Black Cat and Salt.

#3: Do they cater to your specific needs such as: gluten free, dairy free, no crappy cooking oils, etc. If you know you feel terrible when you eat gluten or dairy or canola oil, then why not choose a restaurant that caters to those specific needs. If you go to a pancake house that doesn’t have good gluten free pancakes then aren’t you asking for a problem. For instance, Shine, Blooming Beets and Fresh Thymes are all amazing, and they have 100% gluten free menus. Zeal, Blooming Beets and Fresh Thymes only use high quality (and more expensive oils) like coconut oil for cooking and olive oil for dressings.

Here are some examples of healthy lunch and breakfast options around town:


Shine is 100% gluten free and has a great selection of amazing dishes that have very high quality sourced ingredients. This is the chicken with kale salad and it was delicious. Shine is located in the same mall as the gym now and they have a beautiful cookbook that you can check out at Sanitas. We also offer the option of calling in your order for you and you can pick it up to go after your workout.


This is a staple for me. It’s fast and relatively cheap and I can a well-balanced meal. I choose chicken or fish and add in 5 veggies. It’s located right by the gym over by Home Depot.


I love this place and the new location overlooking the Boulder Creek by Alfalfa’s is so nice. The owner here really cares about the quality of his ingredients and you can tell. This is the wild caught salmon with vegetable curry and rice.


You can’t go wrong here for lunch but I also wanted to point out that this is a great option for breakfast. It opens at 8a and it’s right by the gym. I get the sausage, kale scramble with no cheese and gluten free toast. It’s always good, fast and inexpensive and it’s saved me several times when I didn’t have time to go home and cook. Eating a balanced breakfast everyday has been key for me to lose excess body fat and you can read more about that here.


A few other options are Fresh Thymes (fast and easy because they have counter service and they also source great ingredients), Arabesque (the chicken shawarma plate is to die for), and Tangerine for breakfast. Other fast food options are Wahoos (salmon salad), the Whole Foods prepared foods section (chicken curry with turmeric rice and add extra veggies), Yellowbelly (kale salad with roasted chicken), and Chipotle (bowl but skip the chips). If you have a favorite, let me know and I’ll add it to the list for next time.

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