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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eating healthy while eating out

This past weekend I had the chance to catch up with some old friends in Chicago. One thing I always come back to when traveling is trying to make solid food choices while "on the road."

Luckily, if you arm yourself with a little knowledge it's generally pretty easy to be successful. Here are some things I try and do to eat well on the road, regardless of the situation:

- Pack small snacks. My wife and I are really good about packing mixed nuts, water, protein bars, protein shakes, etc. If you're in a pinch, these items can substitute for a meal. Along those same lines, it will curb your appetite so you don't binge on the 8 lb. burger (yes, one of the restaurants we ate it really did offer it up!)

- Always order a sald and/or extra fruit. If your only goal is to consume copious amounts of calories, then by all means forget about this tip and get that fried appetizer sampler platter and double dessert. If you are in the least bit concerned about your health (not to mention your waistline), adding a sald or fruit to your order helps ensure that you get more nutrients and fiber from your food.

- Opt for extra virgin olive oil or vinagrettes instead of "traditional" salad dressings. Not only do they taste better (assuming your palette isn't dead), but they typically have better fatty acid profiles.

A few more quick hits, without all the explanations:

- If you are looking to shed pounds or body fat, say no to the pre-meal bread and get double-veggies for your sides.

- Drink water vs. calorie-laden beverages.

- Be reasonable with your meat selections. I'm all for a huge slab of beef from time-to-time, but eating a 10 or 12 ounce steak every night probably isn't necessary.

- Whenever possible sub a salad, veggie or even a soup instead of fried side items. They may taste good but there's minimal nutritional value in fried foods.

- I won't ever tell you that beer is bad - at the very least, drink light vs. normal beers.

While eating out or on the road may never be optimal, performing some damage control can go a long way to helping you achieve your health and fitness related goals.

Stay strong

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