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Dining Out While Protecting Your Heart

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Food… it’s an art, whether you love American, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese or Italian. It brings families and friends together not just over holidays but after long workdays or short weekends. Dining out creates memories, provides entertainment and pleasure.

Because we spend so much time dining out, let’s make sure we don’t overkill our hearts! Literally.

We want to eat healthy. But how can we do it when portion sizes are huge and our salads are really soups when the dressing drips down from our forks as we take a bite. Do we really care that the pasta was tossed in butter when it tastes so good? Don’t answer that!

Knowing heart-healthy food choices is a start. Foregoing the extra bread is a no brainer. So, do it! Asking questions about the menu and standing firm behind your healthier choices is a must.

Everyone’s food needs are different. Some need to worry about salt intake, some sugar and others need to worry about calories. Regardless of who you are, avoiding certain dangerous foods may help your heart stay healthy.

Here are take-out suggestions before you dine-out :

“Chinese food can be a hidden salt mine,” said Sari Greaves, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association . Ask for sauce on the side (this could apply to salad dressings too). Try steamed chicken, seafood or tofu with veggies. Stir-fried dishes are fine since they are cooked quickly. Bur crispy, deep-fried or double-sautéed is a no-no.

Try bread with olive oil not butter. A shrimp cocktail might be a better alternative than salami and cheese anti-pasta. If you absolutely have to have cheese, sprinkle it on top of a dish. Avoid deep-fried or butter cooked meats or seafood. Grilled, broiled or poached seafood with a small order of pasta and garlic sounds delicious. Adding tomato sauce or oil is fine instead of cream or cheese.

Sushi means raw. It’s simple simplicity! Try salmon, tuna, mackerel or halibut and avoid tempura-style rolls.

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EmpowHER Guest

I have always been a big eater, (high metabolism), but even I am astounded at the proportions served in restaurants. And beneath the size of the meals, is the amount of fats, salt, and sure number of calories. This article points to how careful we should be with ordering. Especially considering what a large percent of the population eats out multiple times a week. I appreciate someone addressing the issue.

October 5, 2009 - 10:13am

I think it's very hard to not see eating out as something "special." If you are someone who eats out at almost every meal, that's different. But for many, going out to dinner at a restaurant is a treat, and when we are in that "treat" mode in our brain, it's easy to want to partake of the bread and butter, the pasta, the enchiladas in cheese and tomatillo sauce, the dessert. It's like, if I wanted a chicken breast without the skin and steamed vegetables, I could eat at home!!

I personally am working to lose weight right now and am using the Weight Watchers plan. One of the things I like about it is that during the course of the week, there is enough latitude to fit just about anything into my eating without going off track. There is a daily allowance for "points" eaten, which for most people totals between 18-25 points. But over and beyond that, there are 35 extra weekly points that can go anywhere -- 5 extra per day, or all 35 on Saturday night, if that's what you want. The result? You learn a way of eating that says "usually, I eat this way, but when I want to splurge, I do it in moderation." So you can have the bread, but you stop at one piece. You can have the pasta, but you have half of it boxed up ahead of time to take home for another meal. You can fit in the glass of wine or the piece of chocolate without then feeling that you are "bad."

Restaurants don't help by serving us mammoth portions. Somewhere along the way we got the idea that "supersized" means "value," and we lost our perspective!!

October 5, 2009 - 8:10am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.