Healthy Menu Navigator: Café

What should you steer clear of besides the muffins and scones? Nutritionist Heather Bauer explains how to eat healthy at a café.
Don’t let the call of free WiFi come at the cost of your waistline! (Photo: Pinterest)


Even if you know to steer clear of the bread basket, it turns out the average restaurant meal clocks in at a whopping 1,128 calories—yep, 1,128—making it easy for even the most health-savvy among us to think we’re eating well while eating out, when we’re not.

HealthyMenuNavigatorFinal2 Enter nutritionist-author Heather Bauer, of Bread is the Devil and Bestowed fame—and our culinary compass. Each week, Bauer steers us toward the healthiest choices on restaurant menus of any type.

Last time, it was what to eat at an American restaurant. This week, it’s the café! Here’s what you need to know before you approach the barista.

Heather Bauer’s café menu navigational nugget

For many people, the café is the perfect work spot: it’s cozy, comfy, and, hey, there’s WiFi. But whether you’re a freelancer, student, or on a work meeting, your waistline can seriously suffer if you’re not careful. So treat the café like you’d treat the office, Bauer says. Give yourself set mealtimes, and in between, have only water or tea. “As the day goes on, it gets harder to resist the case of baked goods,” Bauer says. “A bottle of water is like an adult sippy cup that will keep you satiated.”



1. Raw almonds. Many cafés carry little packets of nuts, which are crunchy and satisfying—and full of good-for-you fats. But never go over 15 nuts at a time, Bauer warns.

2. An energy bar. But keep it under 200 calories! (And know what to avoid.)

3. A healthy chai—not the sugary, prefab kind from a box. Or a latte. Remember, beverages count as a snack, too! Just stick with a small or medium size.


1. Oatmeal or Greek yogurt—but say no to brown sugar and dried fruit. Sure, it used to grow on a tree, but it’s not healthy in such a sugary form. Ask for fresh berries instead!

2. Egg sandwiches. Yep, they’re a do! Just take off the bread, or stick with one slice, Bauer says, and go easy on add-ons, like meat and cheese.

3. Quiche with a side salad. If you can resist, try and steer clear of the often butter-laden crust.


1. Muffins, pastries, or scones. A no-brainer, but it had to be said.

2. Yogurt parfaits. People often think they’re healthy, Bauer says, but they’re actually loaded with fat and sugar and tend to be very high in calories.

3. Sugary coffee drinks. That pumpkin spice latte is seriously cutting into your calorie count for the day—and just setting you up for a big-time crash later on. Not good for workday productivity!

Hungry for more? Check out Bauer’s guide to ordering at an American burger or farm-to-table restaurant

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