Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Healthy Eating on the Run: A Month of Tips
You probably eat out a lot—most Americans do. People are looking for fast, easy and good-tasting foods to fit a busy lifestyle. Whether it’s carry-out, food court, office cafeteria or sit-down restaurant, there are smart choices everywhere. Here are 30 tips to help you eat healthy when eating out.
- Think ahead and plan where you will eat. Consider what meal options are available. Look for restaurants or carry-out with a wide range of menu items.
- Take time to look over the menu and make careful selections. Some restaurant menus may have a special section for “healthier” choices.
- Read restaurant menus carefully for clues to fat and calorie content. Menu terms that can mean less fat and calories: baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted, steamed.
- Menu terms that can mean more fat and calories: batter-fried, pan-fried, buttered, creamed, crispy, breaded. Choose these foods only occasionally and in small portions.
- Order the regular or child-size portion. Mega-sized servings are probably more than you need. For a lighter meal, order an appetizer in place of a main course.
- It’s OK to make special requests, just keep them simple. For example, ask for a baked potato or side salad in place of French fries; no mayonnaise or bacon on your sandwich; sauces served on the side.
- Hunger can drive you to eat too much bread before your meal arrives. Hold the bread or chips until your meal is served. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Think about your food choices for the entire day. If you’re planning a special restaurant meal in the evening, have a light breakfast and lunch.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. No more than one drink for women and two for men. Alcohol tends to increase your appetite and provides calories without any nutrients.
- Tempted by sweet, creamy desserts? Order one dessert with enough forks for everyone at the table to have a bite.
- Split your order. Share an extra large sandwich or main course with a friend or take half home for another meal.
- Boost the nutrition in all types of sandwiches by adding tomato, lettuce, peppers or other vegetables.
- A baked potato offers more fiber, fewer calories and less fat than fries if you skip the sour cream and butter. Top your potato with broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese or salsa.
- At the sandwich shop, choose lean beef, ham, turkey or chicken on whole grain bread. Ask for mustard, ketchup, salsa or lowfat spreads. And, don’t forget the veggies.
- In place of fries or chips, choose a sidesalad, fruit or baked potato. Or, share a regular order of fries with a friend.
- Enjoy ethnic foods such as Chinese stirfry, vegetable-stuffed pita or Mexican fajitas. Go easy on the sour cream, cheese and guacamole.
- At the salad bar, pile on the dark leafy greens, carrots, peppers and other fresh vegetables. Lighten up on mayonnaise-based salads and high- fat toppings. Enjoy fresh fruit as your dessert.
- Eat your lower-calorie food first. Soup or salad is a good choice. Follow up with a light main course.
- Ask for sauces, dressings and toppings to be served “on the side.” Then you control how much you eat.
- Pass up all-you-can-eat specials, buffets and unlimited salad bars if you tend to eat too much.
- If you do choose the buffet, fill up on salads and vegetables first. Take no more than two trips and use the small plate that holds less food.
- Load up your pizza with vegetable toppings. If you add meat, make it lean ham, Canadian bacon, chicken or shrimp.
- Look for a sandwich wrap in a soft tortilla. Fillings such as rice mixed with seafood, chicken, or grilled vegetables are usually lower in fat and calories.
- Build a better breakfast sandwich: replace bacon or sausage with Canadian bacon or ham and order your sandwich on a whole grain English muffin or bagel.
- Be size-wise about muffins, bagels, croissants and biscuits. A jumbo muffin has more than twice the fat and calories of the regular size.
- Try a smoothie made with juice, fruit and yogurt for a light lunch or snack.
- Refrigerate carry-out or leftovers if the food won’t be eaten right away. Toss foods kept at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Grabbing dinner at the supermarket deli? Select rotisserie chicken, salad-in-a-bag and freshly baked bread. Or, try sliced lean roast beef, onion rolls, potato salad and fresh fruit.
- Always eating on the go? Tuck portable, nonperishable foods in your purse, tote, briefcase or backpack for an on-the-run meal. Some suggestions are peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, a piece of fresh fruit, trail mix, single serve packages of whole grain cereal or crackers.
- For desk-top dining, keep single-serve packages of crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna in your desk for a quick lunch.
￼For a referral to a registered dietitian and for additional food and nutrition information visit www.eatright.org.
Authored by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff registered dietitians.
Source: Finding Your Way to a Healthier You, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U. S. Department of Agriculture.