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updated: 9/10/2012 12:05 PM

Your health: Helpful guidelines for eating out

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  • Knowing nutritional information and what to order ahead of time can help you keep your diet in check when eating out at restaurants.

    Knowing nutritional information and what to order ahead of time can help you keep your diet in check when eating out at restaurants.


Eating on the run

With today's hectic lifestyles, most of us end up eating out at least once a week, according to Harvard Medical School.

Meals away from home make it harder to control ingredients, calories and portions. This can be particularly challenging for people with Type 2 diabetes. The following tips can help you enjoy eating out without abandoning your efforts to eat well.

Ask how the food is prepared. Before you order, ask about ingredients and how the menu selections are prepared. Try to choose dishes made with whole grains, healthy oils, vegetables and lean proteins. Meat that has been broiled, poached, baked or grilled is a more health-conscious option than fried foods or dishes prepared with heavy sauces.

Look for less. Your eyes are the perfect instrument for sizing up portion sizes. Use your estimating techniques to size up the food on your plate.

• 1 thumb tip = 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, butter or sugar

• 1 finger = 1 ounce of cheese

• 1 fist = 1 cup cereal, pasta or vegetables

• 1 handful = 1 ounce of nuts or pretzels

• 1 palm = 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry

Order an extra side of veggies. Non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, asparagus or summer squash, will help you fill up with low-calorie choices.

Think ahead. Learn important nutrition information ahead of time. Most fast-food chains provide calories, sodium and fat content for their menu items. Check out for a listing of more than 50,000 foods, including many restaurant items.

Sans gluten

A website founded by a Virginia woman offers dining and travel reviews for people who keep gluten-free diets -- such as those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that damages the intestine and blocks absorption of nutrients from food.

In 2007, Karen Broussard, 41, of South Riding, Va., came up with the idea for the site,, after struggling to find restaurants with gluten-free options while on vacation in the Caribbean with her son, who has celiac disease, says The Washington Post.

Users can search for venues with gluten-free options by town or ZIP code using a Google Maps application.

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