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By: Megan Lautz, MS, RD, TSAC-F

Eating out and maintaining your health is possible with the right choices. Dodge the supersized portions and

fried appetizers by using the following smart eating strategies.

Plan ahead: if you know you will want a burger and fries or another meal off your typical plan, plan the rest of your day around that. Double up on vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and water leading up to that meal. This works for station dinners, too! If you know it’s burgers or bacon wrapped everything that night, choose a lighter lunch option.

Keep portions small: resist the urge to supersize and pick the small or kiddie burger size. Fill out the meal with a salad or fruit.

Choose healthier sides and dips: load up on healthier sides like apple or orange slices, a baked potato, a fruit and yogurt parfait, steamed rice, or baked potato chips. Opt for low-fat dressings, balsamic vinaigrette, or oil and vinegar.

Go bun-less: ask for an open-faced or take off half the bun on burgers or sandwiches. For some extra crunch, try a lettuce wrap. 

Have a salad: as a full meal with grilled chicken or shrimp or as a side. Avoid excess calories by throwing away the croutons, crunchy noodles, cheese, croutons, and full fat dressing.

Watch what you drink: order water, diet soda, unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling water. 

Ask for grilled, steamed, or broiled entrees: avoid crispy or fried as much as possible to save excess calories from fat.

Customize your meal: do not hesitate to ask for substitutions. Ask for no bun or bread, no condiments, or to add veggies when possible. 

You do not have to follow these rules every time you go out. Everyone should enjoy a fun meal of their choice every now and then! However, if you notice you are grabbing food on the go several times a week, it may be time to reign it in. 

For those looking for the convenience of fast food, a meal preparation service is a better option. Meal preparation services typically cost between $12-15 per meal, which is what most people spend when they eat out anyway. These services will deliver fresh, microwave-ready meals to your home or a gym in the area. These meals can be customized to dietary preferences and allergies. Find a meal preparation service in your area by typing “meal preparation service” into a search engine.

Megan Lautz, MS, RD, TSAC-F
Megan Lautz is a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer with a Masters in Sports Nutrition. Her consulting company RescueRD LLC is designed to help firefighters perform better, recover faster, and live longer. For more from Megan, visit @Rescue.RD on Facebook or Instagram.

Photo by Andrew Neel

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