Eating Healthy When You Eat Out

Last week, I was challenged by Wellness Champion Eileen Weber of the DMH Northeast-Suburban Area office in Westborough to add some slides about healthy choices at area fast food restaurants to my nutrition Lunch ‘n Learn seminar.  I learned a lot doing research for these slides, and thought the information would be useful to share here.  In general, you want to watch portion sizes and avoid fried foods, but it helps to know what your best bets are when dining out.  Below are some tips for a few popular lunchtime choices.  If you’d like me to research and write about your favorite eating establishment, send me an email.

If you like Chipotle:

•Opt for a burrito bowl or salad over tacos or a burrito to save 200-300 calories
•Choose brown rice instead of white rice for an extra 2g of fiber
•Add black or pinto beans for fiber and protein
•Fresh tomato and tomato-green chili salsas have the fewest calories, but all salsas are a good choice
•All meats have similar nutritional values, so choose the one you like best
•Hold the sour cream – you’ll save 120 calories
•Ask for ½ the cheese – one whole serving has 100 calories
•Skip the chips – one serving, without any dips, has almost 600 calories!

If you like McDonalds:

•Don’t be fooled by the “400 calories or less” menu (beware high-fat, – sugar, and – sodium, and low-fiber choices)
•Hold the cheese to save 50 calories
•Choose grilled chicken over crispy (Best Choice:  Classic Grilled Chicken Sandwich)
•Satisfy your sweet tooth with a Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait or Fruit & Walnut Salad
•Skip creamy salad dressings like Caesar and Ranch to save over 100 calories
If you like Burger King:

•Order a regular hamburger instead of a Whopper – you’ll save over 400 calories
•Hold the mayo and save up to 200 calories and 20g of fat!
•Choose side dishes carefully; even the value-size fries have over 200 calories
•Sweet potato fries may sound healthy, but a small serving has 290 calories and 16g of fat!
•Best choice of salad dressing – Lite Honey Balsamic (120 calories per packet)
If you like Subway:

•All cold cuts are high in sodium, but the 6-inch grilled chicken sandwich has the lowest amounts
•Sauces and bread add extra sodium; stay away from Ranch sauce and garlic bread
•Mustard, honey mustard, and sweet onion sauce are all fat-free
•Choose honey oat or 9-grain wheat bread for added fiber
•Load up on veggies – even avocado is a healthy option because it is rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fat
And if you often order my favorite food, pizza:

•Avoid deep dish crust – it’s often baked in oil
•Load up on veggies and go easy on meats like sausage, pepperoni, and bacon (chicken is the best protein option)
•If your pizza looks greasy, blot it with a napkin
•Skip the top part of the crust and focus on eating only the part of the pizza containing cheese and sauce
•Pesto and white sauce are higher in fat and calories than tomato sauce
•Choose whole grain crust when possible, and remember that gluten-free crusts are usually higher in calories

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