Thursday, October 15, 2009

Healthy Tips for Eating Out

It's tough to stay on your diet when you don't know what a restaurant is putting in your food. Here are some tips for staying healthy when you are eating out.

Make careful menu selections pay attention to the descriptions on the menu. Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats or sodium. Order items with more vegetables and choose leaner meats.

Avoid buffets – even seemingly healthy ones like salad bars. You'll likely overeat to get your money's worth. If you do choose buffet dining, opt for fresh fruits, salads with olive oil & vinegar or low-fat dressings, broiled entrees and steamed vegetables. Resist the temptation to go for seconds, or wait at least 20 minutes after eating to make sure you're really still hungry before going back for more.

“Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add it yourself, controlling how much you put on your sandwich.

Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One can of soda is about 100 - 120 calories. Try adding a little lemon to your water or ordering unsweetened iced tea.

Watch your salt. Restaurant food tends to be very high in sodium, a major contributor to high blood pressure. Don’t add insult to injury by adding more salt.

Watch portion size. Choose a smaller portion size, order a side salad instead of fries. At a typical restaurant, a single serving provides enough for two meals. Take half home or divide the portion with a dining partner. Sharing might make dessert (or something else indulgent) more of an option.

Don't be afraid to special order. Many menu items would be healthy if it weren't for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your salads or order the dressing "on the side" and spoon only a small amount on at a time. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed.

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