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Diseases & Conditions

Cholesterol Guide: Eating Out

Many restaurants offer delicious low-fat, low-cholesterol meals. These tips will help you make eating out enjoyable as well as healthy.

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 temping foods that might not be so healthy.
  • If you are trying a new restaurant, take time to study the menu in order to avoid making unhealthy decisions. If possible, log on to the restaurant’s website before you go to check out the nutrition content of their food.
  • Have the server remove temptations (butter, for example) from the table.
  • Avoid foods described in the following way: buttery, buttered, fried, pan-fried, creamed, escalloped, au gratin (with cheese), or a la mode (with ice cream).
  • If you want to eat bread, choose Melba toast or whole-grain rolls without butter or margarine.

When you order:

  • Order foods that are steamed, broiled, grilled, stir-fried (with broth or water), roasted or poached.
  • 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.
  • Choose seafood, chicken, or lean meat rather than fatty meats. Remove all visible fat from any meat.
  • Ask the server to substitute low-fat foods for high-fat foods. For example, ask for steamed vegetables instead of fries.
  • Ask the chef to remove the skin from poultry and to prepare your food without butter or cream sauces.
  • Ask the server about ingredients or preparation methods for the dishes you're not familiar with.
  • Order vegetable side dishes without sauces or butter.
  • Avoid adding salt to your dishes — restaurants tend to use excessive amounts of salt in food preparation.
  • Eat slowly to give your body time to recognize that it is full.
  • For dessert, order sorbet or fresh seasonal fruit without whipped cream or a topping.

Salad tips:

  • When choosing from a salad bar, avoid items such as grated cheese, prepared salads, cream dressings, chopped eggs, bacon bits, and croutons.
  • Choose healthy protein foods like nuts, seeds, and beans to add to your salad for added flavor and nutrients.
  • Use a squeeze of lemon juice instead of dressing on salads.
  • 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.
  • Choose salad dressings that are fat-free, light, low-fat or oil/vinegar-based. Avoid creamy or regular salad dressing.

© Copyright 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/19/2009...#12109.

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