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8 Tricks for Surviving the Mall Food Court

How to shop till you drop without blowing your calorie budget.
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8 Tricks to Control Calories at the Mall Food Court continued...

4.Be Choosy at the Food Court. If you didn't get it together to bring your food for the day, be particular about your choices. "Just like you shop for sales and bargains, use the same strategy to check out all the food offerings at the mall and choose the healthiest options," says Neville. What are some of the top choices? Recommendations from the experts include:

  • Unsweetened beverages (hot or cold)
  • 100% fruit juices
  • Fruit smoothies (but be sure to check the ingredients and calorie counts; some can pack up to 600 calories)
  • Salads with vegetables and grilled meats, topped lightly with vinaigrette or low-calorie dressing.
  • Side salads with fruit, vegetables, and/or nuts, topped with vinaigrette or low-cal dressing
  • Grilled chicken or turkey sandwiches (hold the mayo)
  • Wrap sandwiches loaded with veggies (hold the mayo)
  • Nonfat frozen yogurt or sorbet
  • Asian vegetable and chicken stir-fry (make sure the chicken isn't breaded)
  • Fruit and yogurt parfait
  • Nonfat latte without whipped cream or syrup
  • Whole-grain pasta with tomato or non-creamy vegetable sauce
  • Small hamburger
  • Small slice of plain pizza
  • Whole beans, hummus, or chili
  • Low-fat broth- or vegetable-based soup
  • Plain soft pretzel

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.

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