Sunday, June 29, 2003

Simple tips let you dine out healthfully

Campbell's scoop

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

How to eat out without becoming a statistic in America's obesity epidemic:

Eating out has become so entrenched in people's lifestyles that even if you want to change your eating habits to be healthier, it's unlikely that you'll give up restaurant meals.

But restaurants don't make it easy. Though strategies for eating healthy in restaurants may seem obvious, they bear repeating. A new second edition of a useful book called Eat Out, Eat Right (Surrey Books; $11.95) by Hope Warshaw contains many good ideas.

She starts by pointing out six reasons why eating out is a health trap:

1. We have a special occasion mind-set when eating out, even though we eat out all the time.

2. We have no access to the kitchen to see how food is prepared.

3. There's fat everywhere in restaurant food because it makes food taste so good.

4: Portions are huge and growing.

5: Protein is front and center: A piece of meat usually dominates the plate.

6: We tend to drink more alcohol when eating out, which can run up calories.

Your healthful eating strategies should focus on watching for those traps. Here are a few tips:

• Order two appetizers instead of an appetizer and entree.

• Get two nutritionally complementary dishes with your dining companion: One person has pasta primavera, the other has chicken Marsala, and they split them.

• Make small changes to limit fat: Get a grilled chicken sandwich at Wendy's instead of a "crispy" fried one. Look the server in the eye and tell him to take away the butter. Get vegetable instead of pepperoni pizza.

• Read books like Eat Out, Eat Right, or Restaurant Confidential (Workman; $12.95) or look on You'll find estimated calorie counts and other nutritional values for typical restaurant foods. You may be surprised.

• Just because pesto is green doesn't mean it's healthful. It contains pine nuts, olive oil and lots of Parmesan cheese.

• Stick to soups you can see through. For instance, in a Thai restaurant, be careful with the chicken coconut soup - delicious but high fat from coconut milk.

• Steer away from appetizers in Indian restaurants; they tend to be deep-fried. Some Indian bread is healthful, such as nan, papadum and chapati, but some others aren't. Poori is deep-fried and paratha is layered with butter.

• Resist the bacon temptation. Bacon makes everything taste good, but do you really need it on your salad? For that matter, do you really need cheese on your burger?

• Be really careful at the salad bar. It's easy to think you're eating well, but there are pitfalls: potato salad, blue cheese dressing and croutons for starters.


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Simple tips let you dine out healthfully