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8 Tricks for Surviving the Mall Food Court

How to shop till you drop without blowing your calorie budget.

8 Tricks to Control Calories at the Mall Food Court continued...

In his book The Fast Food Diet, Stephen Sinatra, MD, recommends these brand selections:

  • Panda Express: Beef with string beans (170 calories; 9 g fat), spicy chicken with peanuts (200 calories; 7 g fat), or mixed vegetables (70 calories, 3 g fat)
  • Schlotsky's Dijon chicken sandwich (330 calories, 4 g fat)

5. Avoid High-Calorie Food Court Temptations. Stay away from these over-the-top foods unless you share them with a friend or two or order a mini-version:

  • Iced cinnamon rolls
  • Meat-topped pizza
  • Giant pretzels coated with butter, sugar, icing, or nuts
  • Holiday coffee or hot chocolate drinks with whipped cream
  • Crispy, fried, or heavily sauced foods
  • Jumbo muffins and pastries
  • Super-rich ice cream
  • Candy, cookies, and brownies

6. Include Protein and Fiber in All Meals and Snacks. A snack of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll can set you back 813 calories and 32 grams of fat -- and you'll probably be hungry again in a few hours. A better choice is a grilled chicken sandwich, says Neville. It contains about 400 calories and 10 grams of fat (less if you hold the mayo), and should satisfy you for much longer.

7.Take a Load Off.  Sit down and relax when you eat; you deserve it. Neville warns that munching while you walk around promotes "mindless eating," which can result in consuming extra calories without even realizing it. 

8. Make Your Steps Count. Make your shopping trip do double duty by strapping on a pedometer and counting all those steps. It might be tough to walk briskly through the crowds, so get there early and do a few laps around the mall before the hordes arrive.  "Walk as briskly as you can, dodging the other shoppers, and whenever you can, take the stairs instead of the escalator," says Lichen.  Aim for 10,000 steps or the equivalent of five miles throughout the day. Remember, nothing picks up your energy level like exercise.

Reviewed on November 18, 2008

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