Tips for Eating Out

You have decided. You are going to make positive changes to your eating habits in order to reduce your bad cholesterol numbers. However, working against that decision is your work situation and, out of necessity (or by choice), you eat out often. All is not lost. There are thing you can do if you eat out.

One thing that can be done, regardless of the type of restaurant, is to watch your portion sizes. Also, when you eat out, avoid deep fat fried, pan fried, sautéed food or heavily sauced food. Many restaurants will prepare food to order. For example, they may prepare you a steamed vegetable in place of a vegetable with a high caloric and/or high cholesterol sauce. Always ask for dressings, sauces and gravies on the side and then use sparingly.

Are you a Cajun food fan? Cajun food can be high in fat, cholesterol and sodium, but substitutions can be made to reduce these factors. Hush puppies would be a good thing to avoid completely. Also avoid fried crayfish, shrimp and other fried seafood. Don’t order the sausage or gumbo. Ask the chef to reduce the amount of oil used when preparing blackened entrees. You can have boiled crawfish, shrimp and seafood. Grilled seafood also is fine. White rice and beans work, but do not have “dirty rice”.

Chinese food is a good choice for eating out. Go for the vegetable dishes. Have chicken (not duck which has more fat). Avoid deep fat fried items and select steamed, boiled or broiled items, such as steamed dumplings. Ask the cook to leave out the MSG, salt and soy sauce. Order steamed rice rather than fried rice.

Italian food has a lot of carbohydrates but can be a good meal out for people reducing their LDL if you are careful about the sauces. Substitute marinara sauce for the cheesy, creamy sauces. Avoid floured and fried entrees and dishes baked with cheeses. Ask for the salad oil on the side.

At first thought, Mexican food would seem like a poor choice for eating out since it is loaded with saturated fat. It is fried in lard and uses so much cheese. But you can do it. Don’t eat the chips, but do use the salsa for flavoring. Refried beans are not a good choice. Quesadillas and fried carnitas are not good choices; chicken fajitas are. Anything that has to be fried in fat should be avoided; chicken and beef enchiladas are a good substitute. A taco salad without the cheese or with a very small amount of cheese (a dab of light sour cream is better) is a good choice, but don’t eat the shell. Select corn tortillas rather than flour tortillas.

Going to a steakhouse? As with anything, one key is portion size. So many steak houses go overboard on the size of the steak. Good for promoting the steak house, but not good for cholesterol levels. Be sure to select a lean cut. Ask to have the fat trimmed before cooking. Three ounces is a good choice. If you plan on a larger portion, plan for it throughout the day by avoiding fats during the other meals. Make good choices for your side dishes.

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