Menu Mapping

While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with eating out, it can lure you into some dietary pitfalls. Avoid the menu traps that can add inches to your waistline:

  • Beware bold images. Our eyes naturally gravitate toward colorful photos, especially those placed in the center or upper corners of a page. Look past the vivid backdrop tempting your taste buds with nutrition no–nos so you can choose healthier options.
  • Consider claims. The FDA requires that a food contain no more than 3 grams/serving of fat to be called low fat and 140 mg/serving of sodium to be dubbed low salt. But terms like light or guiltless can be misleading. Ask for exact nutrition details on items you’re considering — federal law mandates that restaurants provide them upon request. Restaurant portions are generally larger than USDA daily recommendations, so pack up half in a to–go box before digging in, or ask if smaller options are available.
  • Survey the sauces. Condiments add flavor but can rack up huge ticks on the calorie counter. Pay close attention to how an item is prepared and what high–fat or high–salt extras douse the dish. Substitute honey mustard, vinaigrettes, or salsa for gravies and creamy dressings, and olive oil for butter or margarine. And don’t forget the simple request to have them on the side.

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