Eating Out: Making the Best of Low-Calorie Choices

Jiuseppe M Russo RD, CD-N, Clinical Dietitian Manager

With hectic schedules, people are eating out more frequently. It is fine to indulge
once in a while when dining out, but if you are eating out more than once a week the calories can add up quickly. It is easy to eat a whole day’s worth of calories in just one meal out. The good news is that you have plenty of low-calorie and even healthy options, which allow you to indulge responsibly.
Pizza restaurant tips
• Choose lower-calorie pizza toppings, such as vegetables, pineapple, chicken, Canadian bacon, or ham
• Pick a red tomato-based pizza sauce, instead of one with a cream or ranch sauce
• Order your pizza “easy on the cheese”—this can cut your calories by up to 100 calories/slice
• Ask for thin crust—the less crust, the fewer calories
• Switch out your large slices for medium ones, which saves you 50-100 calories/slice
• Add a salad with plenty of vegetables and a lite or fat-free dressing as a low-calorie side
Pizza Hut®
(slices from medium 12″ pizza)
• Two slices All Natural Pepperoni and Mushroom=420 calories
• Two slices Ham and Pineapple Hand-Tossed Style Crust=400 calories
• Two slices Veggie Lovers® Thin Crust Pizza=360 calories
Mexican restaurant tips
• Go easy on the cheese, sour cream, and fried tortilla chips
• Add plenty of salsa, which is low in calories and counts as a vegetable serving
• Use only a small portion of guacamole, which is made from avocado (contains a high concentration of healthy fat, but also plenty of calories)
Taco Bell®
• Two Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos, Mexican rice=450 calories
• Fresco Steak Burrito Supreme®, Mexican rice=440 calories
• Fresco Bean Burrito, Fresco Crunchy Taco=480 calories
Fast-food burger-joint restaurant
• Choose a side salad or fruit as a side, when available, which are lower in calories and rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber
• Split a small order of fries as a side if eating with a friend, which helps satisfy your craving without adding too many calories
• Hold the mayo—1 tablespoon (Tbsp) of mayonnaise adds 100 calories, and 11 grams of fat (many sandwiches will contain more than 2 Tbsp of mayonnaise)
• Opt for grilled chicken (instead of fried) on sandwiches, wraps, and salads
• Steer yourself toward a low-calorie, healthy side, such as:
• Baked potato
• Fruit (apple slices)
• Fruit and yogurt parfait
• Side salad with low-fat dressing
• Order diet soda or water, because calories from soda can add up quickly—a 32 fluid ounce regular soda contains about 375 calories
• Do not supersize your burger; instead choose a single-patty burger or cheeseburger, instead of the large-double or triple-patty burgers
McDonald’s®
• Hamburger, side salad, Newman’s Own® Balsamic Vinaigrette, Apple Dippers (without caramel), Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait (without granola)=475 calories
• Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken, Newman’s Own® Creamy Southwest Dressing, Apple Dippers=455 calories
• Grilled Snack Wrap (Chipotle BBQ, Honey Mustard, Ranch), side salad, Newman’s Own® Balsamic Vinaigrette, Fruit and Yogurt Parfait=480-490 calories
Sub or deli sandwich restaurant
• Choose whole-grain or whole-wheat breads or buns, when offered—whole grains are packed with nutrients and are a good source of fiber
• Choose lower-calorie meats, such as:
• Turkey
• Chicken
• Lean ham
• Lean roast beef
• Hold the oil and mayonnaise, but use vinegar, mustard, or other low-fat dressings to add flavor
• Add extra vegetables for toppings
• Go light on the cheese; ask for just one slice
Panera Bread®
• Half Turkey Artichoke on Focaccia (hot panini) and Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable Soup=460 calories
• Half Asiago Roast Beef on Asiago Cheese Demi (Signature sandwich) and Half Classic Café Salad with fat-free raspberry dressing=465 calories
Subway®
• Foot-long Veggie Delight®=450 calories
• 6″ Subway Club®, Baked Lays®, apple slices=485 calories
Casual dining restaurants
• Know your portions; weighing and measuring your food once in a while at home helps you get a good idea of appropriate portions, which will help you control portions when eating out
• Take half “to go”; ask the server to wrap up half your entrée before it reaches your table
• Avoid any dishes that mention the words fried, batter dipped, creamy, cream sauce, scalloped, au gratin, butter sauce, cheesy, or Alfredo—these words generally indicate the meal is higher in fat and calories
• Order a side salad and/or vegetables as a side, when available
• Request high-fat sauces and salad dressing on the side, and use as little as possible
• Split one dessert between the table—just take a bite or two and pass it on
Ruby Tuesdays
• Petite sirloin, white-cheddar mashed potatoes, premium baby green beans=421 calories
• Smart Eating Creole Catch, fresh steamed broccoli, sautéed baby portabello mushrooms=484 calories
Olive Garden®
• Grilled Chicken Spiedini=460 calories
• Linguine alla Marinara=310 calories lunch, 430 calories dinner
Denny’s®
• Fit-Fare™ Chicken Sandwich with fruit=490 calories
• Fit-Fare™ Boca Burger=410 calories

Note: Restaurants frequently update their nutrition information. Check individual
restaurant Web sites for the most up-to-date information, because frequent changes do occur in restaurant menus.

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