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What to Eat when You are Eating Out

Let’s start out with the best advice there is when it comes to eating healthy: have a game plan. It’s easier to implement your game plan when you are in a routine, but what happens when the routine is broken? Maybe it’s your friend’s birthday and you are all gathering at your favorite Mexican restaurant, or you have a lunch meeting at work and decide that Italian is everyone’s preferred choice. Or maybe you’ve had a busy workday and can’t be bothered to cook. Below is a list of common unhealthy food spots and our tips to eating healthy at each one!

Mexican

Trying to eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant is like learning to walk on a tightrope — extremely hard to do but not impossible. Here are Reader’s Digest tips to eating healthy at a Mexican restaurant.

  • Swap the chips and queso for guacamole and tortillas. Although tortilla chips can be a healthy snack, they are usually deep fried and heavily salted at Mexican restaurants. Guacamole contains the ‘good’ fats your body needs and soft tortillas reduces your sodium intake.
  • Choose fajitas with lean meat. Fajitas are pretty customizable and can be made with grilled, lean meats such as chicken or shrimp, or an assortment of grilled veggies. It is extremely tasty, filling, and healthy for you!
  • Make a healthy version of tacos and burritos. Cut out the unhealthy cheese and sour cream and substitute it with your favorite salsa. For your tacos, it’s better to choose soft tortillas rather than the deep fried hard shells.
  • Add healthier side dishes to your meal. When deciding on a side dish at Mexican restaurants, it’s better to choose beans over the traditional Mexican rice. Beans are loaded with fiber and potassium, as well as other heart healthy vitamins. They are also lower in cholesterol, which aids heart health.

Italian

Pasta and bread — it tastes so good, but it’s also so bad for you in many ways. However, it’s possible to enjoy all your favorite Italian dishes while staying true to your heart healthy diet. Try these tips from The Daily Meal the next time you’re eating Italian.

  • Avoid bread. This is easier said than done, especially because many Italian restaurants offer free bread as an appetizer. Try ordering a starter salad or minestrone soup, which contains fiber-rich beans and veggies that are good for your heart. If your party agrees, you can ask the server to substitute the traditional bread appetizer with a healthier option, like the choices above.
  • Choose red sauce. In most cases a red tomato-based sauce is lower in calories than a white-based sauce, which usually contains heavy cream. You can ask your server to substitute the white sauce for the red in certain dishes.
  • Try fresh fish. Italians are known for their exquisite choice in seafood. Fish is an important part of your diet because it tends to be lighter, contains fewer calories and is heart healthy. It’s best to choose fish that have been grilled, roasted, or cooked in olive oil, instead of fried.

Chinese

Ordering take-out Chinese food is a cheap indulgence that everyone should enjoy, even if you’re sticking to your heart healthy diet. Try these pointers from Fit Day the next time you decide to order in.

  • Browse the soup menu. Many Chinese restaurants have a range of soups that are broth based. Not only are these low calorie treats, but eating a broth-based soup before your meal will fill you up and cause you to eat less food in total, according to Livestrong.
  • Choose spring rolls instead of egg rolls. Spring rolls contain about 80 calories on average and are a lot healthier for you than deep fried egg rolls.
  • Ask for sauce on the side. Chinese take-out is known for their flavorful saucy chicken such as General Tso’s Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, and more. You can still enjoy these flavors but ask for the sauce on the side. This saves calories and is better for your heart than drenching the chicken in sauce.

Look for steamed vegetables and lean protein. There are many different combinations of steamed veggies and lean protein when it comes to traditional Chinese food. Try a Moo Goo Gai Pan, which is a dish with veggies, mushrooms, and chicken. This dish is full of fiber, and a whole cup is only about 275 calories.

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