Nutrition and Fitness Advisors
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Dining Out: You can still eat well-balanced meals

The best strategy for restaurant eating is to have a plan and stick to it. Decide in advance how many exchanges of vegetables, protein, dairy, fats, and grains you're going to allow yourself. Resolve to stay within your budget. Then, when you look at the menu, decide how you would most enjoy spending your available exchanges.

The chart below shows the best choices and strategies for each kind of cuisine. Also remember our pyramid and rules of thumb for serving sizes!

Best Choices Strategies
Chinese

Choose hot and sour soup or spring rolls as an appetizer. Choose Szechuan shrimp, shrimp with garlic sauce, tofu and vegetables, or chicken chow mein without the fried noodles as your main entree.

Skip fried food.
Eat only half the rice.
Choose hoisin, black bean, or plum sauces.

Family Style

Choose chicken, turkey, pot roast, and salads.

Skip the fried foods and bread. Order a green salad and non-starchy vegetable side.

Greek

Choose a Greek salad as your appetizer and chicken Souvlaki or Spanakopita as your main entree.

Skip the stuffed grape leaves, gyro, and bread.

Indian

Choose dahl soup as your appetizer. Choose curried chicken or fish; tandoori chicken or fish; or lentils/dahl, in yogurt based sauces.

Skip the breads and samosas, opt for brown basmati rice on the side.

Italian

Choose chicken marsala, spaghetti with meat sauce, lobster ravioli, or veal parmigiana without the mozzarella topping.

Skip the bread and cut the pasta in half. Avoid any dish with a creamy sauce.

Japanese

Choose tofu, miso, or bean soup as your appetizer.

Choose grilled seafood or meats; sushi; or sashimi as your main entree.

Avoid tempura and other fried dishes. Choose soba or udon noodles instead of rice.

Mexican

Choose chicken or fish tacos; chicken or beef enchiladas; or chicken fajitas.

Limit the tortilla chips. Use salsa instead of sour cream, guacamole, and cheese.

Pizza

Choose a salad with dressing on the side as an appetizer.

Order a thin crust vegetable pizza as your main entree.

Skip bread sticks and stuffed crust pizzas.

Seafood

Choose broiled, grilled, or blackened fish, shrimp, and scallops.

Don't order anything fried. Have non-starchy vegetables as a side instead of fries or potatoes.

Steak House

Choose BBQ chicken or a 6-8 ounce sirloin steak or filet mignon.

Order a non-starchy vegetable side and a small green salad.

Thai

Choose hot and sour soup as your appetizer.

Choose a chicken or tofu dish with vegetables as your main entree.

Avoid anything fried, including Thai rolls and fried tofu. Order noodles instead of rice, and skip the coconut soup.

Vietnamese

Choose steamed, not fried, spring rolls as your appetizer.

Choose chicken, fish, or sauteed tofu as your main entree and eat plenty of the fresh herbs, greens, and salads. If you like noodles, rice vermicelli is the best choice.

Skip the fried appetizers and any dish centered around rice, EXCEPT rice vermicelli. These noodles are surprisingly low on the glycemic index.

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