Gaining Confidence While Cooking

Eating Out? You Can Still Eat Healthy In America!

Even while eating out in a restaurant; it's easy to maintain healthy food choices.  Some of the most delicious American meals are also nutritious.  The right diet reduces the risk of packing on the pounds, and helps you avoid conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  Here are 6 tips to eating healthy that apply to restaurants or at home.

1. Eat your vegetables and fruits.

Meals that have servings of fruit and vegetables are recommended by the American Heart Association.  The AHA suggests that each adult should consume 4.5 cups of vegetables and fruits daily.    

2. Limit the trans-fat.

Fried foods often are filled with saturated fats and high in trans-fats.  Some cooking methods limit unhealthy fats and oils.  Foods that are steamed, grilled, sautéed or baked are typically better for you.

Check the labels or menus when you can, and buy foods that are low in "bad" fats and oils.

Items that are naturally high in saturated fat (like bacon and other fatty meats) should be limited.  Pre-packaged foods and baked goods are often high in deadly trans-fats.  Choose fresh fruits and whole grains with no additives instead.

3. Substitute healthy foods, wherever possible.

Diabetics, dieters or anyone that wants to stay healthy can select substitutes and request menu changes.  For instance, order whole-grains instead of white breads.  Keep in mind that sautéed vegetable dishes and salads (fruit or greens) are healthy alternatives.

Choose lean meats, vegetable dishes and tasty dessert alternatives.  For instance, instead of hot fudge sundaes or ice cream there is always sherbet, yogurt, or fresh fruit.

Certain condiments can do a lot of damage to an otherwise heart friendly meal.  Don't smother the food in salt, cheese, gravy, ketchup, butter and sugar.  Instead, season with spices.  Use low calorie or "light" spreads.  Insist on natural sweeteners (agave, stevia, or even brown sugar).

4. Build a healthy breakfast.

There is nothing like a bowl of hot cereal, such as oatmeal or grits with some fruit and honey, to warm up a cold day.  Fresh fruit added to cold cereal, as long as the cereal isn't packed with added sugar, also makes a good meal.

Fresh fruit, egg substitutes or egg whites, and whole-wheat breads will build a better, healthier breakfast.

5. Portion size matters.

Sometimes eating too much of a good thing defeats the purpose.  Avoid "super-sized" foods or "king-sized" portions.  It's healthier to split a large portion entree with someone else or divide it to take home to consume for another meal.

All-you-can-eat buffets usually result in unhealthy helpings.  Eating unhealthy foods or too much of a healthy choice can have the same result.

6. Have a healthy Thanksgiving.

Traditional American foods are filled with nutrients and heart-healthy fare.  The Native American or Thanksgiving foods include pumpkins packed with potassium and beta-carotene, beans loaded with fiber, and a variety of berries filled with powerful antioxidants, vibrant vitamins and phytochemicals.

The United States is a "melting pot" of rich cultural influences and diverse regional food favorites.  Traditional American food, both in restaurants and at home, includes a wide variety of healthy diet choices.