At the office or a restaurant, eating away from home doesn't have to undermine your healthful habits. To help find your healthy eating style during National Nutrition Month®, celebrated each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to "Put Your Best Fork Forward" when dining out.
"Choosing healthful options at restaurants is easier today than it ever has been," says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Robin Foroutan. "Use a smart-eating strategy to plan ahead, consider the menu and choose foods carefully."
According to Foroutan, how much you eat is as important as what you eat. For example, if you plan to have lunch with coworkers, eat a light dinner. If you know you’re going to a restaurant in the evening, plan to have lighter meals earlier in the day.
"It's important to consider meal options at different restaurants and choose places with a range of menu items," Foroutan says. "You can balance your meal by choosing healthier items such as lean protein foods, non-starchy vegetables and fruits."
Most restaurants offer healthy side dishes such as salads and steamed or roasted vegetables.
"Don't be afraid to ask questions about how the food is prepared or for a substitute or an extra side of veggies," Foroutan says. "Make special requests to meet your nutritional needs, like asking for a side salad instead of mashed potatoes or fries."
To-go boxes can help control portions. Eat half your meal at the restaurant and take the other half home for a second meal.
As part of National Nutrition Month, the Academy's website includes articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Consumers can also follow National Nutrition Month on Facebook and Twitter (#NationalNutritionMonth).