Eating well when eating out

There are many healthy choices available when eating out. Many cafeterias, fast food outlets, and restaurants offer heart-healthy menu options that are good for you and taste great.

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Choosing healthier foods when eating out

Eating out often means consuming foods that are higher in fat and sodium. But you can still eat well by making a few easy changes:

  • Choose a healthier cooking style. Cut down on fat by choosing foods that are baked, broiled, poached, or grilled instead of breaded or deep-fried.
  • Enjoy a colourful meal. Try steamed vegetables, vegetable soups, fresh fruit or vegetable salads, and berries with yogurt.
  • Order healthier salads. Dark green salads are usually healthier for you than higher fat Caesar, taco, potato, or pasta salads.
  • Ask for sauce and dressing "on the side." Ask for gravy, sauce, and salad dressing on the side and use a small amount.
  • Limit sodium. Ask for your meal to be cooked without salt or MSG (monosodium glutamate), a seasoning that is very high in sodium. For Asian-style foods, ask for half the soy sauce.
  • Pick a better pasta sauce. Order tomato-based pasta sauces instead of alfredo or cheese sauces.
  • Choose whole grains. Order sandwiches, subs, or wraps with whole grain bread, buns, or tortillas. Choose one spread instead of two (for example, mayonnaise or margarine, not both).
  • Limit cakes, cookies, and rich desserts. Get a smaller size or share with someone.
  • Drink smart. Choose water, milk (skim, 1%, or 2%), fortified soy beverage, or 100% juice instead of soft drinks or sweetened beverages.

Keeping portions under control

Most restaurants serve a lot more food than you need. These tips will help you keep portion sizes reasonable.

  • Skip super-sized meal deals. The extra calories, fat, and sodium aren't worth it.
  • Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets.
  • Order an appetizer and a small salad instead of an entrée.
  • Share your meal with someone.
  • Take home half your meal and keep leftovers in the fridge for the next day.
  • Build a healthy meal using the Eat Well Plate.

Eating out with kids

Eating healthy when you're dining out can be easy for everyone--even kids. Encourage children to:

  • Choose a meal that includes foods from the four food groups.
  • Skip the kids' menu and order a healthy entrée from the regular menu.
  • Order fresh fruit for dessert, or a small salad or veggies and dip as an appetizer.
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