BY Katie Morell
It’s the end of a long week and you’re out with friends at your favorite restaurant. You lay eyes on the menu and start to panic. How you will ever choose a heart-healthy option when you’re already salivating over the vivid description of the double-decker hamburger and side of curly fries? Is it even possible to be good to your heart at a place like this?
“Yes, it is,” says Joy Bauer, resident nutrition expert on the Today show. “You can order heart-healthy options at any restaurant, you just have to be strategic.”
Here are a few of Bauer’s ordering tips:
Pick one cheat item
If the bread basket is your thing, go for a slice, but vow to be heart healthy for the rest of the meal. If you’d rather splurge on dessert, skip the bread, order extra veggies instead of fries and split the dessert with a friend.
“Perfection is overrated; sometimes it takes a little wiggle room to feel in control and empowered,” says Bauer.
Go easy on the condiments
Restaurants are notoriously liberal with salad dressing and sauce portions, so ask for the dressing on the side (or request oil and vinegar—you can have as much vinegar as you’d like and still stay healthy) and skip the cream sauce in favor of a light marinara, she suggests.
Watch your liquid calories
While it may be enticing to reach for that second cocktail, Bauer guards against the practice in favor of heart health.
“Try not to drink too many sugary beverages; sugar raises your risk of heart disease,” she says. “Try just one glass of wine or a shot of liquor with club soda and fruit juice. Both options are under 120 calories.”
Katie Morell is passionate about issues relating to women’s health and wellness. As a runner and yoga practitioner, she tries to live by the advice given in her Go Red pieces. When not lacing up her sneakers or doing a downward-facing dog, she is writing for a variety of publications including Hemispheres, USA Today, Consumer’s Digest and The Writer.