Love tapas, and also love eating healthy? Read this.

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Looks like eating out is back on the menu (no pun intended), and it might be a bit harder to stick to our healthy habits after eating only what we have at home for so long. Take a look at this ‘tapas cheat sheet’ to help you choose healthier items next time you head out for tapas with friends or family.

Healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. But restaurants don’t make it easy for us!

Restaurant meals are delicious, but they also tend to be much higher in fat and salt than what you would eat at home.

With so many delicious things on the menu, it’s hard to stick to correct portion sizes and choose healthy options, especially if you are trying to stick to a plan. The reality is, eating in a restaurant can be difficult if you are trying to make changes to your diet or your body- BUT it doesn’t need to be!

Eating healthy when you head out for tapas

That’s what I’m here for. To help you learn how to make choices that are in line with your goals! If you love having a social life, AND are also looking to staying on track with your nutrition, I thought I would start a fun series of blog posts over the next few months to help you make better choices while heading out to different types of restaurants!

First up, everyone’s favorite here in Spain: TAPAS!


First, let’s discuss a few general tips for eating out, some of which I go over in this blog post.

Hydration is key!

Thirst can make us feel hungrier than we actually are… so if you head out to a meal thirsty, you may eat more than you plan to. I would also suggest drinking water (still or sparkling!) during the meal- especially if your goal is weight loss.

If you can, check out the menu online ahead of time.

if you can get an idea of what you might order before you arrive, you can avoid any last minute decision making!

Make sure to eat plenty of veggies, fruit and lean proteins throughout the day.

In general, restaurant meals in general tend to be higher in fat and carbohydrates.

Keep alcohol intake low or non-existent.

Alcohol can cause us to overeat without realizing it, not to mention that certain alcoholic drinks are really high in calories and sugar.

Make healthier choices when ordering

Since we are talking about tapas, there are a few things we KNOW are going to be on the menu, and we know that the plates will be shared. Here are a few options I recommend ordering that are on the ‘healthier side:

  • Grilled proteins: squid, chicken, beef, prawns
  • Steamed seafood: mussels, clams
  • Raw or semi-raw proteins: carpaccio, tataki, etc. 
  • Fresh salads: tomato and onion salads, greek salad, vegetable carpaccio
  • Olives and other ‘pickles’

Maybe don’t choose these options…

There are also a few things that are ‘clearly’ not the healthiest choices- these are options that tend to be super popular (like patatas bravas!). Here are some other options you might want to avoid for a ‘healthier’ tapas meal:

  • Ensaladillas- or any salad with a mayonaise base
  • Croquettes or other fried dishes like tempura
  • Chicken wings- they tend to be deep fried, or covered in sugary sauces
  • Nachos- fried chips, lots of high calorie toppings!
  • Fuet, chorizo, longaniza: iberian ham is a better choice!
  • Bread… unless its a special, amazing bread, skip it. 

And there are lots of choices that really just depend on the amount that you eat, like tortilla española, or different cheeses.

Sometimes, it can be hard to stop from overeating when there are so many delicious options!

Use your own plate.

Eating off shared plates can make it harder to regulate the amount you are eating, so take what you would like to eat and put it on your own small plate before starting to eat. This gives you more control over your portion sizes, and helps you be more conscious of your intake.

Focus less on the food and more on the company.

Try to relax, enjoy the meal, and eat slowly. Take the focus away from the food, and focus on your dining companions!

Be practical- control what you can control.

In the end, you may not be able to control if there are bravas on the table, or if there is a basket of bread with olive oil. However, you CAN control what items you choose to eat, HOW MUCH of them you choose, and HOW you eat them.


Download this BITE SIZE CHEAT SHEET to help you make healthier choices next time you head out for tapas!


This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

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