Statistics show that meals and snacks from restaurants account for one out of 10 meal occasions for most people. And, while eating out is a nice treat, many of the foods offered are laden with fat and calories. Here are a few tips to help you make smart, healthy choices the next time you eat on the run.
Fast food counters and restaurants often offer customers double the amount of food they should be eating. Take a good look at the portion you're being given and split a meal with friends. Or, when ordering, request that the chef put only half of the meal on your plate, then take the leftovers home. This will ensure you don't indulge in unnecessary calories.
Know a few words
Fried. Cream. Butter. Breaded. These are just a few of the keywords you should be looking for when reading a menu. That's because anything marked with these words will contain more calories, more fat and, likely, more sodium than healthier food choices. Choose dishes described as steamed, baked, broiled, or grilled.
Swap it up
Many restaurants now give people the option to swap out french fries, baked potatoes, or onion rings for calorie-saving salads or coleslaws. Make the change, but keep a few things in mind: never reach for Caesar salad (it's loaded with fat); ask for the dressing on the side (some dressings are rife with calories and sodium); and, skip coleslaws that are made with mayonnaise.
Other hidden calorie claimers are sauces. Sauces might be loaded onto food (think about the "works" on a hamburger or barbecue sauce slathered on a steak), or they can be loaded "on the side" (such as the teriyaki sauce you add to Chinese food). Ask for your meal sans sauce; however, if you want a little bit of extra flavor, ask for the sauce "on the side" so you can control how much you use.
Watch what you drink
Drinks are a surefire way to kill any healthy eating plan. That's because many options—two percent milk, alcohol, and pop—are loaded with things that are bad for you (e.g., fat, calories, sugar). Reach for healthier options like water, low fat milk, or 100 percent fruit juice. If just can't skip your favorite beverage, ask the bartender to throw an ice cube into it (this will water down your drink).
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