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January 21, 2011 - January 21, 2011


Amber Wilson, MS, RD

NewLife Nutrition




Restaurant menu options are overwhelming, and it’s often challenging to determine what foods are healthful.  For the most part, restaurant food is prepared using more salt, sugar and fat than we would use cooking at home, so it’s our job as the customer to try and weed through the salt, sugar and fat and order something healthy.  Use the following step-by-step guide to determine your most healthful options the next time you eat out.


Step 1:  Start your meal off right


Studies show that people who start their meal with a light salad or a cup of broth-based soup consume less calories overall during dinner.  Eating a salad or soup (or other healthful appetizer) before your main meal helps to fill you up on foods that don’t have many total calories. 


Step 2:  Look for lean protein


Types of lean protein include:

  • Fish and seafood
  • Lean cuts of pork (pork tenderloin, boneless loin roast, boneless loin chops, boneless ham, and Canadian-style bacon).
  • Lean cuts of beef (top sirloin steak, top round steak, bottom round roast, 95% lean ground beef, strip steak, tenderloin steak, T-bone steak)
  • White meat chicken and turkey (skinless)
  • Eggs (egg whites/egg substitute the most healthful)
  • Vegetarian sources of protein (beans and lentils, tofu, veggie burger, etc.)


Step 3:  Narrow your protein options with healthful cooking methods


Healthful cooking methods include words such as: grilled, steamed, broiled, sautéed (request light oil or butter), and baked.


Step 4:  Survey the side dish


What does your dish come with on the side?  The side dish could be a colorful assortment of grilled vegetables, or it could be a generous portion of fried or mashed potatoes.  Remember, the side dish is an accompaniment to the main meal, so calories from the side should be kept to a minimum.


Step 5:  Control your portion


Portion sizes in restaurants are often much larger than an accurate portion of food (some meals contain more than a day’s worth of calories).  Be aware of accurate portion sizes and try the following tips to make sure you don’t consume a day’s worth of calories at your next dinner out:

·   Have a salad, broth-based soup or healthful appetizer before your meal.

·   Split your meal with a friend.

·   Ask the server to box up half of your meal in a to-go box before bringing your meal to the table.

·   Order an appetizer and a dinner salad as your meal.

·   Remind yourself that you don’t have to finish the entire meal in one sitting.  If you only eat half of your dish, you can enjoy the other half for lunch the next day!


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