March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Food choices away from home are important to your health and weight since many of us are eating more meals away from home. Fortunately, making healthful and delicious choices in restaurants is also easier today. Restaurants of all types are responding to customers' desires with more options in portion sizes, preparation methods and menu items. For example, restaurants are offering:
- More small plate or appetizer-size portions of popular entrées.
- More roasted and grilled choices in meat, fish and poultry.
- More variety in fruit and vegetable side orders.
Hit the Bricks
Make physical activity part of dining out. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes.
- Walk from home or the office. Pick a restaurant that's a 10- or 15-minute walk. You'll get your meal, 30 minutes of physical activity and avoid the parking hassles.
- Walk with family or friends. Get moving as a group before or after eating. A brisk walk before a meal gives you time to chat. A stroll afterward helps your digestion.
- Walk inside instead of using the drive-thru. Park your car in the lot and walk inside to get your fast food order. And, make fast food an occasional treat rather than a daily habit.
Right-Size Your Serving Sizes
Becoming sensible about serving sizes is an important way to maintain a healthy weight, and it's good for your wallet too.
- Instead of a large entrée, order an appetizer and a leafy green salad or choose two appetizers for a meal.
- Start with a small serving such as a cup of soup, a junior burger or a small order of fries. If you are still hungry, order something else.
- Indulge your inner child: order a kid's meal at a fast-food restaurant. Many now offer a choice of low-fat milk and fruits or vegetables instead of fries.
- Savor your steak twice as much. Eat half at the restaurant, then take the other half home to enjoy it sliced onto a green salad or as a sandwich on whole-grain bread.
- Ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal is served. Put half your food into the container for a second meal. That's two meals for the price of one.
- Share from start to finish. Order one appetizer for the whole table and then order one dessert with multiple forks. Sometimes, just a bite or two is perfect.
- Share an entrée. You can ask your server to split the meal in the kitchen or divide it up yourselves at the table.