Make healthy choices at any restaurant


When ordering food at a restaurant, do you know which items may be loaded with fat and calories? Unlike when you’re grocery shopping, the foods in a restaurant may not have nutrition labels listing their fat grams and calorie content.

Hidden calories refer to the extra calories in many dishes that come from ingredients you may be unaware of. That’s why they’re such a problem for people grappling with weight control. Ingredients are often added to enhance the flavor, color or texture of food — for example, seasonings, sauces, cheesy toppings or dressings. And sometimes they’re part of the process used to prepare the dish — for example, oil or butter for cooking. These calories add up fast.

Use these tips to steer clear of hidden fat and calories in restaurant food.

  • Appetizers. If you’re having an appetizer, choose one that contains primarily vegetables, fruit or fish. Lettuce cups, edamame, fresh-fruit compote and shrimp cocktail served with lemon are healthy appetizers. Avoid fried or breaded appetizers, which are generally high in calories. Of course, you can also save calories by skipping the appetizer altogether and just focusing on your entree.
  • Soup. The best choices are broth-based or tomato-based soups. Creamed soups, chowders and pureed soups can contain heavy cream or egg yolks.
  • Bread. Muffins, garlic toast and croissants have more fat and calories than do whole-grain bread, breadsticks and crackers. Skip the temptation by asking the server not to bring the bread basket.
  • Salad. Your best choice is a lettuce or spinach salad with a low-fat dressing on the side. Limit all of the high-calorie add-ons, such as cheese and croutons. Also beware that chef salad and taco salad are usually high in fat and calories because of the meat, cheese and other extras — such as the taco salad’s deep-fried shell.
  • Side dish. Choose steamed vegetables, rice, fresh fruits, a baked potato or boiled new potatoes instead of higher-calorie options, such as french fries, potato chips and mayonnaise-based salads.
  • Entrees. You maywant to skip pasta dishes with meat or cheese or dishes with creamy sauces. The names of certain dishes are sometimes giveaways that they’re high in fat, such as prime rib, veal parmigiana, stuffed shrimp, fried chicken, fried rice and fettuccine Alfredo. Instead, look for these healthy terms when choosing an entree: baked, broiled without added butter, grilled, poached, roasted or steamed.
  • Dessert. Finish your main meal before ordering dessert. By the time you’re done, you may not even want dessert. If you do order dessert, consider splitting it with one of your companions. Some healthy dessert options include fresh fruit, sorbet or sherbet.


Also, be mindful of two common dining-out challenges: the urge to order more food than you need and the impulse to eat every bit of food on your plate — even when the portion size is way too large for one person!


7 tips to breaking breakfast barriers

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day for a reason: People who regularly eat a healthy, balanced breakfast tend to concentrate better and get more physical activity than those who skip it. Breakfast eaters also have an easier time managing their weight and have good cholesterol levels.

Take a bite out of the habit of skipping breakfast with these strategies:



  1. Get into the habit. Start with grabbing just a piece of fruit as you walk out the door. Gradually include other food groups.
  1. Curb your sweet tooth the healthy way. Try making French toast using whole-grain bread dipped in a batter made of egg whites or an egg substitute, a pinch of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract. Fry in a nonstick skillet or use a cooking spray. Top with thinly sliced apples, unsweetened applesauce, berries or sliced banana for sweetness.
  2. Prepare in advance. If you’re rushed in the morning, set the table the night before with bowls and spoons for cereal or slice some fruit ahead of time and place your smoothie blender out on the counter. Keep easy favorites such as hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, instant whole-grain oatmeal and low-fat yogurt on hand.
  3. Think out of the (cereal) box. Don’t limit yourself to traditional breakfast foods. Leftover vegetable pizza or a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread can make a healthy breakfast.
  4. Take it with you. If there’s no time to eat breakfast at home, pack a brown-bag breakfast or grab a banana and take it with you.
  5. Split it up. If you’re not hungry first thing in the morning, eat a slice of whole-wheat toast or drink a glass of 100 percent fruit juice. Later, eat a healthy mid-morning snack.
  6. Change gradually. Have breakfast on two mornings at first, and three mornings a little later. Your eventual goal is to eat breakfast every day.


Whenever you’re tempted to skip your morning meal, just remember that a good breakfast also helps keep you from becoming ravenously hungry later in the day, so you won’t eat as much.

Flexibility: Stretch your way to better health

You might be thinking that it’s hard to carve out time in your schedule for exercise, let alone stretching. But most cardio and strength-training programs cause your muscles to tighten. That’s why it’s important to stretch regularly to keep your body functioning well.

Regular stretching:

  • Increases flexibility, which makes daily tasks easier
  • Improves range of motion of your joints, which helps keep you mobile
  • Improves circulation
  • Promotes better posture
  • Helps relieve stress by relaxing tense muscles
  • Helps prevent injury, especially if your muscles or joints are tight


Stretching essentials

Keep these key points in mind:

    • Target major muscle groups. When you’re stretching, focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play.
    • Warm up first. Stretching muscles when they’re cold increases your risk of injury, including pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes. If you only have time to stretch once, do it after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching. And when you do stretch, start slowly.
    • Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. Then repeat the stretch on the other side. For most muscle groups, a single stretch is usually sufficient.
    • Don’t bounce. Bouncing as you stretch repeatedly gets your muscles out of the stretch position and doesn’t allow them to relax, making you less flexible and more prone to pain.
    • Focus on a pain-free stretch. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching. If it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
    • Relax and breathe freely.

Don’t hold your breath while you’re stretching.


Fit stretching into your schedule

As a general rule, stretch whenever you exercise. If you don’t exercise regularly, you may want to stretch at least three times a week to maintain flexibility. If you have a problem area, such as tightness in the back of your leg, you may want to stretch every day or even twice a day.

Think about ways you can fit stretching into your daily schedule. For example:

  • Do some stretches after your morning shower or bath. That way, you can shorten your warm-up routine because the warm water will raise muscle temperature and prepare your muscles for stretching.
  • Stretch before getting out of bed. Try a few gentle head-to-toe stretches by reaching your arms above your head and pointing your toes.
  • Sign up for a yoga or tai chi class. You’re more likely to stick with a program if you’re registered for a class.


What you should know before you stretch

You can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work or when you’re traveling. But if you have a chronic condition or an injury, you may need to alter your approach. For example, if you have a strained muscle, stretching it as you usually do may cause further harm. Talk with your doctor or a physical therapist about the best way for you to stretch.