How to Find a Verified Healthy Restaurant When Dining Out

We talk a lot here at the Templeton Wellness Foundation about the importance of healthy eating, and for good reason. Cancer patients, in particular, are advised to watch what they eat carefully. Therefore, it’s a good idea to eat at home where you have complete control over the ingredients that go into each dish and how the food is prepared. But there are times when traveling and eating out becomes a necessity, and there are times when you might just want to go out and enjoy someone else’s food for a change.

Instead of throwing caution to the wind and trying your luck at randomly selected restaurants, what if you could choose between these restaurants certified healthy by a team of people who understand the importance of fresh, healthy food? Restaurants that serve food you can feel good about eating.

That’s exactly what we’ve done here at the Templeton Wellness Foundation. As a cancer survivor for over 35 years, I want to do whatever I can to help cancer patients in their fight for their lives. I know what it’s like to travel for business and how hard it can be to stay on task with the nutritionally balanced meals I need to stay healthy. I understand that there are times when dining out is a welcome break from the routine of cooking and preparing meals at home.

I was so convinced of the importance of finding credible places to eat out, that I created The Templeton List, a totally FREE guide to America’s healthiest restaurants. My team surveys thousands of restaurants in all 50 states, asking seven critical questions in an effort to determine if the food they serve is healthy enough for cancer patients or anyone who wants to be sure the food they serve order is nutritionally sound. If a restaurant meets the seven criteria of ingredients, preparation and environmental guidelines, it receives five stars. The score decreases according to the number of missing criteria. Here’s how it works.

The Templeton List: Your FREE Guide to America’s Healthiest Restaurants

When you visit, you are presented with a box to enter the city/state you are interested in. You’ll then see a list of our hand-selected restaurants that meet our strict guidelines, along with the star rating and list of criteria they meet. If a restaurant meets the seven criteria we review (for ingredients, preparation and environmental guidelines), it receives five stars. The score decreases according to the number of missing criteria.

The seven criteria our team uses to determine if they meet our standards include:

  1. Is the food you serve locally sourced? It’s no secret that fresh fruits and vegetables lose much of their nutritional quality when shipped long distances. In fact, the nutrients in fresh produce are diminished within 24 hours of being picked. This is why fresh produce is often exposed to chemicals, gases or waxes in order to preserve food for transport over long distances. Add to that the fact that locally grown foods are picked at their peak ripeness when they are most nutritionally dense, and you’ll see why locally sourced foods are preferred.
  2. Are the foods you serve organically grown, free of pesticides and chemicals? In a news article we published on the Templeton Wellness Foundation website, those who regularly eat organic foods are 25% less likely to develop cancer. In fact, the 68,946 noted study participants were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and 21% less likely to develop postmenopausal breast cancer. Check out the illuminating article: New Study Shows You Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk By Eating Organic.
  3. Are you using healthy, non-hydrogenated oils? Junk food is usually made from hydrogenated vegetable oils such as soy and canola. These oils are not only known to be inflammatory, they are also linked to cancer and heart disease. This is why a diet high in junk food often leads to a higher risk of colorectal cancer, stomach cancer and cancer of the respiratory tract (mouth, nose, throat, vocal cords, trachea and esophagus). For women, the risk of liver and breast cancer is also higher, and for men, the risk of lung cancer is higher. You’ll want to check out The Link Between Fast Food and Cancer.
  4. Do you serve filtered water and do you use filtered water when cooking? Clean, pure water is not necessarily guaranteed in many places in the United States. Shocking, isn’t it? This is a concern you cannot afford to overlook. Learn about the cancer connection in our article, If You Have Cancer, Clean Your Drinking Water NOW! And, by the way, it’s not just drinking water you need to be careful about, the water you bathe or shower in can also put you at risk.
  5. Do you use real butter and absolutely no margarine? Unfortunately, many servers across the country don’t realize the distinction between real butter and substitutes like margarine. And that’s just one of the reasons we think it’s important to filter restaurants for you. Margarine has been found to contain a shocking number of carcinogens and should be avoided.
  6. Are you GMO free? GMO foods are more likely to be contaminated with pesticides and herbicides because they are genetically modified in an effort to be more tolerant of chemical exposure. Glyphosate is one of the deadliest chemicals to date. Not only does it kill weeds, it can kill you. Any plant that glyphosate is sprayed on absorbs the chemical into its tissues – you can’t just wash it off. Because glyphosate drifts on air currents when sprayed and runs into waterways, it is found in virtually every crop grown in the United States, but at much lower levels in organic food. Read more: The dangers of glyphosate.
  7. Are you without MSG? Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer originating in Japan, has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, it has been implicated in several neurological symptoms. It remains one of the most harmful food additives and lurks in everything from frozen dinners to processed meats, salad dressings, broths, nut milks, and more. Learn more about finding hidden ingredients on food labels.

The bottom line is that you have the right to know what’s in your food. The Templeton List can help. This is a completely FREE interactive restaurant guide for the sole purpose of helping YOU identify approved healthy restaurants in your area.

Is there a restaurant you frequent that is not in the guide? If so, please ask the aforementioned seven important questions before dining there again. And if your favorite restaurant answers YES to most of these questions, don’t hesitate to submit this information to us. Our team will follow up and you might find YOUR favorite restaurant on our exclusive list the next time you look!

REMARK: The Templeton List is a work in progress with many new restaurants added weekly. I encourage you to check it out, save it to your “Favorites” and come back often to see what healthy restaurants are in your area or next travel destination.

This story originally appeared on the Templeton Wellness Foundation website.


James Templeton founded Uni Key Health Systems in 1992 and now the Templeton Wellness Foundation as a way to give back and help others achieve the health and wellness they seek.

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