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 carryout, food court, office cafeteria or sit-down restaurant, there are smart choices everywhere.
Here are 10 tips from Sharp Best Health, Sharp HealthCare's employee wellness program, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you eat right when eating out.
1. Think ahead and plan where you will eat.
Consider what meal options are available. Look for restaurants or carryout with a wide range of menu items.
2. 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.
3. Read restaurant menus carefully for clues to fat and calorie content.
Menu terms that can mean less fat and calories include baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted and steamed.
4. Control portion sizes.
Menu terms that can mean more fat and calories include batter-fried, pan-fried, buttered, creamed, crispy and breaded. Choose these foods only occasionally and in small portions.
5. 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, and no mayonnaise or bacon on your sandwich. Ask for sauces, dressings and toppings "on the side" so you control how much you eat.
6. Split your order.
Share an extra-large sandwich or main course with a friend, or take half home for another meal.
7. Be size-wise about muffins, bagels, croissants and biscuits.
A jumbo muffin has more than twice the fat and calories of the regular size.
8. Opt for low-fat when possible.
At the sandwich shop, choose lean beef, ham, turkey or chicken on whole-grain bread. Ask for mustard, ketchup, salsa or low-fat spreads — and don't forget the veggies.
9. Load up your pizza with vegetable toppings.
If you add meat, make it lean ham, Canadian bacon, chicken or shrimp.
10. Bring a healthy snack with you.
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 or single-serve packages of whole-grain cereal or crackers.