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Around the Home: Off the menu and off the hips
Right choices can help you keep it light while dining out
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Yes, it’s possible to make smart dining out choices.

Some restaurants now post nutritional information such as calorie content on their menus.

More in-depth information is usually available in pamphlets at the location or on their websites.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers these strategies that may help you make better choices:

If you know what the healthier choices are, plan what you’ll order before leaving for the restaurant. Then, if possible, order before everyone else does so you won’t be tempted to change.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the food is prepared before you order. Look for descriptors of the food such as baked, broiled, boiled, grilled, poached, roasted, steamed and stir-fried; that usually mean lower in fat and calories.

Whenever possible, order from the menu instead of choosing the buffet.

Always have a salad with your pizza or pasta so you’ll eat less starch and more vegetables.

Skip the bread or tortilla chips or have them removed once you take a small portion.

Ask for sauces and salad dressings to be served on the side. Dip your fork into the sauce or dressing before selecting a piece of food. You’ll get the taste of the sauce or dressing with every bite, but will eat much less.

Trim visible fat from meat, and if served poultry with skin, remove it. Broiled, baked, boiled or grilled fish is often the best choice.

When possible, order “junior” size sandwiches or “lunch” size entrees (even at dinner). Sometimes half-sized entrees also are available.

Always think about sharing a meal or taking half home. Ask for a take-home container when the meal is served. Then, box up the part you want to save before you dig in. If that isn’t feasible, at least cut the larger portion in half right away so you have a visual cue that says “this is enough.”

Look for “light” menu items. Usually they’re in a special section on the menu or have a special symbol next to them.

Remember, if you’re leading a youth group or parent education group, our free Food Talk program is available. Find out more about the program from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Spout Springs Branch of the Hall County Library System.

Families (parents and children) are welcome to attend and learn more about eating healthy on a budget. The session includes a cooking demo and free samples.

For information on more area library programs, visit

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact: 770-535-8290. Her column appears biweekly on Wednesdays and on

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