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Sandra Stringer: How to eat out and eat healthy
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If you’re celebrating a special occasion this season, just remember you can still make healthy meal choices.

Graduation parties and other gatherings of family and friends can offer a smorgasbord of foods for our taste buds. And even if you choose to dine out for breakfast, lunch or dinner, remember fresh fruits and vegetables will offer flavor, variety and good nutrition.

WalkGeorgia is offering these tips on restaurant dining from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK

Order a drink that isn’t full of added sugars. Water, low-fat or fat-free milk and unsweetened tea are good choices.

SALADS ARE FRIENDS

Salads are a great way to eat a ton of veggies in one sitting. They’re usually cheaper than other menu items as well. But beware. Salad dressings are often packed with fat, salt and sugar. Ask for dressing on the side and use it sparingly.

SHARING IS CARING

Ever have trouble finishing a whole entrée by yourself? Splitting an entrée with friends and family can keep you from overeating. It’s also a good way to save money.

PICK A SIDE

Eating sides is a good tip for eating out and staying healthy. Sides and appetizers are usually smaller portions than regular entrees, but can still fill you up.

SNACKS ON HAND

It can be easy to just stop and grab fast food on a road trip or long commute. However, the pounds will add up just like the miles. Make some healthy snacks before you go and eat them during your trip.

FRUITS AND VEGGIES

Pick a menu item that includes a lot of veggies. Stir-fries, kebobs and vegan/vegetarian options are good picks. Also, choose some fruit for a sweet treat instead of a slice of pie.

COMPARE OPTIONS

Most restaurants now show the nutritional information for their menu items. Compare calories, fats, salts and sugars between items to ensure you’re making the healthiest choice.

SKIP THE BUFFET

It can be hard to stay away from the buffet. When you eat from the buffet, you’re much more likely to overeat. Stick to menu items if you can.

TRY WHOLE GRAINS

Look for menu items with whole grains. They are less likely to have added sugars. Plus, the extra fiber will help you stay satisfied for a longer period of time.

KNOW YOUR LIMIT

If you “clean your plate,” it’s much more likely you’ll overeat. Eat as much as you can and feel free to grab a “to-go” box and take home some leftovers. That’s like two meals for the price of one.

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. She may be contacted at 770-535-8290. Her column appears monthly on Wednesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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