Making healthy food choices while eating out – Miami Valley Today

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Dear Dietitian,

These days, I am traveling a lot for work and eating out once, sometimes twice a day. How do I make healthy food choices?


Dear Chris,

Traveling for business is often hectic and leaves little time for meal planning. The key to success is to plan ahead. Try to stay on your regular eating pattern as much as possible. Use these tips for a healthier experience:

1. Eat three meals a day and have healthy snacks available when needed. Things like fruit, nuts, and popcorn travel well. You can make a homemade trail mix with roasted nuts, seeds, and raisins.

2. Restaurants with 20 outlets or more are required to list the calorie amount of all food items on their menus. Choose a meal with about 500 calories.

3. Think twice before ordering appetizers, which are often deep-fried and may contain over 1,000 calories.

4. Choose pasta with red sauce versus white sauce.

5. Choose lean proteins and have them prepared by baking, grilling or broiling. Select a chicken breast, beef sirloin, pork tenderloin or fish. Skip the fancy sauces, as these are often loaded with fat.

6. Ask for a to-go box. Many restaurant servings contain enough food for two or three meals.

7. Ask for salad dressing, butter, and sour cream on the side. These are delicious additives, but use them moderately.

8. Beware of salad entrees. You may think you are making a healthy choice, but a Cobb salad, crispy (fried) chicken salad, and chicken Caesar salad contain over 1,000 calories each. However, ordering a garden salad before your meal is a good idea; it will help fill you up.

9. Skip dessert.

10. Avoid sugary drinks – regular soda pop, lemonade, margaritas, piña coladas, etc. If it has been a long week, and it’s time for a libation, have a glass of wine, a light beer, or a vodka with club soda.

11. Finally, do not skip meals or let yourself get too hungry. Skipping meals often increases the risk of overeating later in the day.

Until next time, be healthy!

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, is an award-winning dietitian based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mission is to educate consumers on sound, scientifically-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at [email protected]. Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.

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