Healthy alternatives to restaurant favorites

By Deanna Frances

Dieting is never easy. Take it from someone who has struggled with diets for what seems like a long time.

When I started dieting to try and maintain my weight and eat foods that were healthier for me, I had a difficult time trying to find foods that were healthy and enjoyable.

This was even more difficult when friends would ask me to go out and eat. As young college students, we live off of our social lives, so I had to deny going to my favorite local restaurants like Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesday to keep my healthy diet. Trying to stick with a healthy diet started to make being social less fun.

I didn’t feel like I should have to give up my social life just to eat healthy, but little did I know that I really didn’t need to give up being social. I wasn’t actually looking more closely at the options that I could have chosen while eating out to stick to my diet. Take a look at some of the dishes that my favorite restaurants serve that helped me stick to my diet without having to give up social time with my friends. Some of them might surprise you.

Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday is one of the nicest, “fanciest” restaurants in town. It is my go-to place for a nice, semi-formal dinner with my boyfriend, but it also is a great place to eat with friends because it is open for brunch, lunch and dinner, and offers great options. My personal favorite used to be the Parmesan Chicken Pasta, but of course, it is not as healthy for me as I would like it to be. Instead of loading on the heavy carbs, try some of the healthier options I like to choose at Ruby Tuesday’s.

Salads: At first, my friends told me salad was a great option because of Ruby Tuesday’s “Create Your Own” Garden Bar. You can create your very own special salad that has all of the toppings you want. This would be a great healthy alternative, except for the fact that I’m a very picky eater. I don’t like salad to begin with, but if you are a salad lover, this is a great healthy alternative.

Chicken: Ruby Tuesday also offers many fit and trim menu options, such as the Chicken Bella: a chicken breast topped with a hickory barbecue glaze. It is served with fresh grilled zucchini and squash. At only 355 calories, this dish is a great choice.


This is overall my favorite restaurant to eat at. When I found out that my favorite Three Cheese Chicken Penne on the “Two for $20” menu did not fit into my diet, I was not a happy camper. But, did you know that Applebee’s actually has menu options that are completely endorsed by Weight Watchers? I didn’t know that. Take a look at some of these delicious and healthy options.

Pasta: I love chicken, and I love cheese, so this has become my new favorite meal to eat at Applebee’s. It offers 12 Weight Watchers points and is delicious. At only $9.99, it also fits your college student budget. It is a grilled chicken breast with creamy au gratin Parmesan sauce. It even comes with steamed spinach and rice pilaf. Yum.