Some love salad bars; others favor Chinese, Mexican or Italian food. Maybe your favorite is pizza. Whatever foods are your favorite, make an effort to work them into your diet. Just consider a few of the following things when eating at a salad bar or ordering Chinese, Mexican, Italian or pizza.
At the Salad Bar
- Walk around the entire salad bar and look at all the selections before making your choices.
- Try to select as much as you want of the fresh, low-fat items such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, celery, radishes and onions.
- Avoid high-fat items, such as processed meats, cheese, prepared salads (like three-bean, coleslaw, macaroni or potato). Also avoid regular salad dressings, which contain high amounts of fat.
- Select a small amount of fresh fruit; avoid canned fruit, which is usually packed in syrup. Avoid gelatin salads; they are generally not sugar-free.
- Stick with the broth-based soups, not the creamy ones.
- Remember to count the carbohydrate you select from croutons, crackers and bread.
At a Chinese Restaurant
- Avoid Chinese restaurants if you are on a low-sodium diet. They often use soy sauce as a main ingredient, and it is loaded with sodium.
- Read the menu carefully. Avoid battered and fried meats. If you can't figure it out, ask the waitstaff.
- Avoid foods with "sweet-and-sour" or high-fat egg foo yong dishes.
- Pay attention to the kind and portion size of rice. Avoid fried rice, ask for the steamed rice. One-half cup portion has about 20 grams of carbohydrate.
- Order stir-fry items instead of combination plates with fried rice and egg rolls.
- Remember, each fortune cookie has about 5 grams of carbohydrate.
At a Mexican Restaurant
- Skip the chips. Twelve chips have about 20 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of fat.
- Choose black beans over the refried beans, which are usually laden with lard.
- Order individual items and side dishes instead of combination plates, which usually have loads of refried beans and rice.
- Skip the guacamole and sour cream, request more salsa.
- Select soft flour tortillas, which are usually a better choice than the crispy fried corn tortillas because soft flour tortillas have not been fried.
- Have a single order of fajitas to share because the order is usually enough for two people.
- Skip the margaritas; they're loaded with sugar.
At an Italian Restaurant
- Watch for better menu choices that include the words marinara (tomato sauce), pomodoro (tomato) and primavera (indicates the dish has vegetables).
- Look for sauces labeled "light" and ask if they have reduced calories.
- Choose something lightly sautéed in olive oil.
- Avoid choices that are generally high in fat such as alfredo sauce, parmigiano (lightly breaded, fried and usually topped with cheese), cream sauces, anything sautéed in butter as well as cheese-stuffed or filled.
When Eating Pizza
- Stick with thin crust pizza; it has fewer calories and carbohydrates.
- Choose a leaner meat topping such as chicken or lean ham.
- Skip the extra breadsticks.
- Split personal pan pizza with someone. Generally there are too many carbohydrates for your individual meal plan.
- Increase vegetable toppings, which are lower in fat and sodium. They also add fiber and make the pizza more filling.