Select healthy items when eating out
March 25 Wellness Wednesday, held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the
Children’s Hospital lobby, will feature National Nutrition Month. Learn
how to eat right when eating out.
by Alison Church
The theme this year for National Nutrition Month (March) is Eat Right.
It is no secret that eating healthy while dining out can be
challenging. In fact, restaurants rarely provide you with the
nutritional information for menu items. As a result, the line
distinguishing healthy from unhealthy is often blurred.
For example, a salad choice screams healthy. But the creamy
dressing, croutons, and cheese sprinkles turn the “healthy” claim into
a resounding “unhealthy” groan. The listing of nutritional content for
food included on restaurant menus, unfortunately, is not required.
However, the tips included below can help you make healthy meal choices
when eating out:
Notice the descriptions on the menu. Deep-fried, pan-fried, basted,
batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, au gratin, or in cream sauce
are descriptive words usually used to describe foods higher in fat,
calories and sodium.
Refuse the freebies. Politely decline the complimentary bread, chips
and salsa, or peanuts. Spend your calories on your meal.
Watch your portion size. Restaurants often serve their food on large
serving dishes that offer large portions. Sharing a meal or
bringing half your meal home is an easy way to control your portions
and help control your weight. Ask for a “doggie bag” when you order so
you can enjoy the rest tomorrow.
Select healthy side dishes. Opt for grilled vegetables as opposed to
sides such as french fries, coleslaw, or a loaded baked potato to help
reduce calories and fat in your meal. In addition, vegetables are
a great source of fiber, which keeps you feeling full for longer.
Customize your order. Don’t be afraid to order a menu item without specific items such as cheese, sour cream or mayonnaise.
Check the Web site. Many restaurants are starting to include the
nutrition information for their menu items on their Web sites. If you
know the restaurant destination, check out the site beforehand and
decide which meal will fit into your calorie allowance. Stay with the
healthy decision when placing your order.
Restaurants menus can be extensive. Therefore, as you look over the
menu items, it is important to recognize healthy options when
considering soups, salads, pastas, seafood or meat. No matter
what you’re in the mood for, these tips will assist in selecting
Soup: Broth-based soups are a better option compared to cream-based soups.
Salad: Ask the server for your dressing on the side to control
your portion and opt for oil and vinegar or a vinaigrette dressing
(Italian) instead of a cream-based dressing (Ranch, Thousand Island,
Blue Cheese, French).
Pasta: Choose whole-grain pasta, if available. Select a
tomato-based sauce over a cream-based sauce, such as Alfredo
Seafood: Order your seafood baked, broiled, sautéed, poached, steamed,
or grilled instead of fried. If you are unsure how a particular
dish is prepared ask your server.
Meat: Opt for leaner cuts of meat such a pork loin or beef sirloin. Try eating chicken breasts without the skin.
By making healthy menu selections, you can incorporate the restaurant experience into your healthy lifestyle.
Friday, March 20, 2009