Eating in a restaurant is a relaxing, enjoyable experience – make sure it’s a safe one, as well!

Restaurants are becoming more willing to serve salad dressings and mayonnaise on the side than ever before. Do not trade with one that does not.

Most restaurants will now prepare your food broiled or baked instead of fried when you request them to do so, especially the better restaurants.

If you have a question regarding substitutions, talk to the manager directly and do not deal with the waitress.

Return any meat or poultry that is not fully cooked, this is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. The most common problems are usually in chicken and hamburger.

If you are going to eat a salad or other food from a buffet or salad bar, make sure that they are not browned or dried out before being seated.

Be sure custard, whipped cream and cream-filled desserts are refrigerated. In many of the largest buffets these are just placed out on a tray with the rest of the dessert items.

Ask Yourself the Following Questions

Be observant when you patronize your favorite restaurants.

  • Are the dishes and silverware clean?
  • Are the servers in clean uniforms?
  • Does the server touch the top of the glasses where you drink from?
  • Can you get a straw for all beverages served in a glass?
  • Is the cream for the tea or coffee kept at room temperature instead of being refrigerated?
  • Are the dishes chipped or discolored? Restaurants that do not care about the little things are not too careful about cleanliness.
  • Are the bathrooms clean?
  • Is there dirt on the window sills? Or insect residue?
  • Are the curtains or blinds clean and dust-free?
  • Are the menus stained with food or have actual food residues? If so, it is best to leave while you have a chance.
  • Are the condiment containers clean and not caked with any product(s)?
  • Look under the table! Yes, you may be amazed at how dirty it is underneath the table, even if the top is sparkling clean. This one is a little embarassing – just drop a penny and take a glance when you bend over to pick it up.

Healthy Eating Out

You do not have to give up eating out to cut down on fat, cholesterol, and salt. You just need to think about what you order.

Many menus highlight low fat and low sodium dishes. But if you cannot find what you want, ask. Explain to the waiter or waitress what you need. Or ask to see printed nutrition information.

Following are some tips for ordering healthy meals.

Asking for What You Want

  • Ask that foods be prepared in little or no fat and with no added salt.
  • Ask that sauces be left off or served on the side. Choose sauces with a tomato base instead of cream or cheese sauce. Then eat only a little.
  • Ask for a baked or boiled potato or steamed rice, without butter.
  • Ask that vegetables be steamed and served with no butter or sauce. Ask for lemon juice or vinegar to sprinkle on them for flavor.

Keep These Tips in Mind

  • Choose minestrone or vegetable soups. Ask about sodium.
  • Order salad dressing on the side. Dip your fork into the dressing, then in the salad.
  • Look for fish, chicken, turkey, or meat that is broiled, roasted, poached, or steamed.
  • Try ordering 1 or 2 appetizers or soup and a salad instead of a main dish. Or eat only half of the main dish and take the rest home.

Salad Bars and Buffets

Some healthier choices include:

  • Lettuce, plain fresh vegetables, beans, fruit and flavored gelatin
  • Low fat or fat free salad dressing, or vinegar and a little oil
  • Whole wheat bread or bread sticks
  • Roast chicken or turkey breast
  • Steamed vegetables without butter or sauce
  • Pasta or bean salads made with oil and vinegar dressing

Healthy Eating Out

Fast Foods

Try these healthier orders.

  • Broiled, roasted, or grilled chicken sandwich without mayonnaise, dressing or sauce
  • Chicken or whole bean burrito or soft taco, without cheese, sour cream, or guacamole
  • Garden salad with light or fat free dressing
  • Baked potato with chives
  • Mashed potatoes without gravy

Interview Yourself

When the vending machine or other tempting delights come calling, ask yourself if you are truly hungry or simply eating out of habit. If you are really hungry, address that issue with a nutritious option. If you are stressed, bored or angry, however, find a way to deal with those emotions without involving food.

Mexican

Make these healthier choices:

  • Chicken tostada or enchilada with whole beans and no cheese, guacamole, or sour cream unless light or better yet, non-fat sour cream.
  • Chicken tamale
  • Burrito with black beans and chicken
  • Whole beans and rice
  • Steamed tortillas without butter or salt
  • Rice with chicken (arroz con pollo)
  • Chicken or fish fajita

Italian

Smarter choices include:

  • Minestrone soup
  • Pasta with tomato sauce or sauteed vegetables (pasta primavera)
  • Fish stew (cioppino)
  • Chicken cacciatore
  • Ravioli or tortellini in tomato sauce
  • Risotto (rice) with vegetables
  • Pizza with vegetable toppings and little or no cheese

What Can You Order?

Here are some more ideas.

  1. Grilled chicken and vegetable kabobs
  2. Broiled or grilled fish
  3. Corn on the cob
  4. Low sodium vegetable or bean soup
  5. Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with cranberry sauce or mustard
  6. Steamed vegetables over rice or noodles
  7. Steamed shellfish in wine or tomato sauce
  8. Chicken or whole bean burrito or tostada
  9. Chicken tandoori

No Guilt Mall Food

Typical mall food isn’t diet-friendly, but you can stick to your diet and still enjoy a quick meal or snack.

Following are the best picks from some of the nation’s most visited malls.

  • Minibon equals 300 calories/13g fat
  • CinnabonStix equals 346 calories/11g fat
  • Cinnabon partnered with Operation Gratitude to help raise money to send “Hugs from Home” care packages to our deployed heroes overseas.

Baskin Robbins

  • Peachy Keen Sorbet — One scoop equals 110 calories/0g fat
  • Daiquiri Ice — One scoop equals 130 calories/0g fat
  • Cafe Mocha Truly Free Yogurt — One small equals 140 calories/0.5g fat
  • Espresso ‘n Cream Lowfat Ice Cream — One scoop = 180 calories, 2.5g fat

Mrs. Fields

  • Butter Bite-Size Nibbler Cookies — Two cookies equals 110 calories/4.5g fat
  • Debra’s Special Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookie — One cookie equals 280 calories/12g fat

Subway

  • Veggie Delite Salad equals 50 calories/1g fat
  • Turkey Breast Salad equals 105 calories/2g fat
  • Veggie Delite Sandwich equals 200 calories/2.5g fat
  • Turkey Breast Sandwich equals 254 calories/3.5g fat

While at the mall…

Consider mall walking! Mall walking is a perfect way to make exercise feel less like a chore and more a part of daily life. Shopping centers are heated in winter, air-conditioned in summer, safe, well lit, and free of snapping dogs and pollen.

Not only will you burn calories and tone your legs, if you maintain good posture when you walk, you’ll give your abs a workout. Keep yourself straight up while holding in your ab muscles; every step becomes a mini sit-up. Most of us lean forward when we walk, but we can catch ourselves easily at the mall: Just check your posture in your reflection in the windows.