Heart-healthy eating is an important way to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. While restaurants are getting more health conscious and providing more nutrition data on menus, dining out can still be a challenge for those looking to limit fat, sugar and calories.
Dining out can be a true test of your willpower because there are so many choices. It can also be harder to stay on track when you are socializing with others.
When dining out, the Barnabas Health Heart Centers at Community and Monmouth Medical Centers and Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, encourage you to follow these helpful tips for a healthy heart:
· Choose the restaurant wisely. Although all-you-can-eat buffets may sound appealing, they usually result in overeating and high calorie intake. Before you go out, pick a restaurant that offers healthy options.
· Skip the starters. Cocktails, appetizers, bread and other before dinner items add extra fat, sodium and calories to your meal.
· Drink water. Before your meal arrives, fill up on zero calorie water so that you will eat less.
· Ask for sauce/dressing on the side. If you order a dish that has an accompaniment – such as butter, cream cheese, salad dressing, sauce or gravy – request it on the side so you can control the amount of calories you consume.
· Eat grilled, baked or boiled foods. Stay away from meals that are fried.
· Watch the salt. Anything that is served pickled, smoked or in broth, au jus or soy sauce contains high levels of sodium.
· Make smart salad bar choices. Not everything on the salad bar is healthy. Select fresh greens and fruits, raw vegetables, beans and low-fat dressings, but skip cheese, pasta salads, marinated salads and fruit salads with whipped cream.
· Talk to your server. If you are looking for a particular dish, ask if healthy substitutions are available. If you have a question about how an item is prepared, ask so you can make a healthy decision.
· Request monounsaturated oils. Some oils are better than others. If an item is prepared in oil, request the use of olive, canola or peanut oils over soybean, corn, safflower or sunflower oils.
· Know your desserts. Select fresh fruit, fruit ice, sherbet, gelatin and angel food cake to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep your heart happy.
· Don’t overeat. Just because a menu item comes in a large portion size doesn’t mean that you have to eat it all. Ask someone at your table to split it or ask the server to put half of your meal in a to-go box so you aren’t tempted to over-indulge.
For a referral to a Barnabas Health cardiac specialist, call 888-724-7123.