Healthy Restaurant Lunches
Your best bets for lunch at 7 restaurant chains.
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
From personal-size pizzas to smoothies, bean burritos to grilled sandwiches, the average American has lots of restaurant lunch options. True, not all of them are exactly healthy. But by making smart choices no matter where you go, you can enjoy nutritious (and not-too-fattening) lunches away from home.
Here are some tips for eating at various types of restaurants, followed by some healthy lunch choices from seven restaurant chains.
If you go to a sandwich shop or deli, follow these four rules:
If you go to a Mexican restaurant, choose soft tortillas (not fried); lean meat fillers, like charbroiled chicken breast, steak, and fish; and pinto or black beans (instead of refried).
Cut the sour cream if you can, or ask for light sour cream. And if you snack on tortilla chips, try to keep it to a handful instead of half of a basket.
If you go to a typical fast-food burger place, opt for the charbroiled chicken sandwich without creamy sauce (ask for BBQ sauce, catsup, or mustard) or a small hamburger without mayo or special sauce.
This next step is going to hurt: Instead of fries, reach for a salad with a low-fat dressing or a fruit salad. If fries are non-negotiable, get the kiddie size, and just enjoy some of them.
Healthy Lunches at 7 Restaurant Chains
While it may be tempting to try the town "hot spot" when you're eating away from home, many of us would rather play it safe and find a chain we recognize. Not only do we know what to expect when we go there, we usually know what we want to order before we get within a mile of the drive-through.
Here are some suggestions for seven specific chains:
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