Healthy eating on the run

Posted: Sunday, May 02, 2004

PITTSBURG, Kan. Breakfast from the drive-thru at McDonald's, lunch out of a vending machine and dinner at your favorite restaurant. Sound familiar? Whether it's fast food, takeout or a fancy restaurant, eating out has become part of the American lifestyle. It's also a contributing factor the national obesity epidemic.

If you find yourself spending more meal time behind the wheel of your car than at your dining room table, you need help. Therefore, we offer the following tips to help you survive in the fast-food jungle:

Take time to look over the menu. Read the fine print for clues on how the entree will be prepared and ask questions if you're not sure about what you're ordering.

Avoid fried foods or eat them only occasionally. Go for the grilled, broiled and steamed foods more often.

Order the regular or kid-sized portion if available. Mega-sized servings are more than you need.

Ask for a side salad or baked potato instead of fries or mashed potatoes.

Split your order with a friend. Many restaurants will provide you with an extra plate for a small charge. If this isn't an option, cut the entree in half and ask the waiter for a take-home container.

Check out the appetizer section. It may offer just the right amount of food.

Go easy on condiments, special sauces and dressings on sandwiches and salads. Ask for dressings on the side and use only the amount needed. Mustard, catsup, salsa and reduced-calorie spreads and dressings are generally low in fat but often high in sodium.

Enjoy ethnic foods like Chinese stir-fry and vegetable-stuffed pitas that come with lots of vegetables.

When presented with your meal, eat your vegetables and other lower-calorie foods first. Soup or salad is a good choice.

Look for a sandwich wrap in a soft tortilla. Fillings such as rice mixed with seafood, chicken or grilled vegetables are usually low in fat.

Don't forget about fresh fruit. It's easy to pack and provides a quick pick-me-up with plenty of fiber.

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