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High Cholesterol: Healthy Choices When Eating Out

Many restaurants offer delicious, heart-healthy meals. These tips will help you make eating out healthy and enjoyable.

Before You Order

  • If you are familiar with the menu, decide what to order before entering the restaurant. This tactic will help you avoid any tempting foods that may not be as healthy.
  • If you are trying a new restaurant, take time to study the menu so you can make the best choices.
  • Have the waiter remove temptations (such as the bread basket) from the table.
  • Drink two full glasses of water before your food arrives.
  • Avoid foods described as buttery, buttered, fried, pan-fried, creamed, escalloped, au gratin (with cheese), or a la mode (with ice cream).
  • If you do eat bread before your meal, choose melba toast or whole-grain rolls without butter or margarine.

When You Order

  • Order foods that are steamed, broiled, grilled, stir-fried, or roasted.
  • Order potatoes baked, boiled, or roasted instead of fried. Ask the server to leave off the butter and sour cream.
  • Order first so that you will not be influenced by others’ choices.
  • For appetizers, order broth-based soups such as minestrone or gazpacho instead of creamy soups or fried finger foods.
  • Choose seafood, chicken, or lean red meat rather than fatty or processed meats. Remove all visible fat from any meat.
  • Ask for steamed vegetables instead of fries.
  • Ask for the sauces and dressings on the side so you can control how much you eat.
  • Ask the server about ingredients or preparation methods for the dishes you're not familiar with.
  • For dessert, order sorbet or fresh, seasonal fruit without whipped cream or a topping.

Salad Tips

  • When choosing from a salad bar, avoid items like grated cheese, potato salads, cream dressings, bacon bits, and croutons.
  • Use a squeeze of lemon instead of dressing on salads. Or try rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar.
  • If you opt for dressing on your salad, order the dressing on the side. Dip your salad fork into the dressing, then into the salad. You will consume less dressing if you just get a taste of it on each mouthful of salad rather than pouring it over the salad.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on May 16, 2014
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