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Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

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What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Courtesy of La Crosse Tribune

Lately, a lot of attention has been given to how dietary changes can decrease more...

Spring Cleaning Your Nutrition

Courtesy of  The Durango Herald

With warmer temperatures around the corner, it’s a great time to break free from the winter food rut. It’s a perfect time of year to “spring clean” your diet. That means out with the heavy winter foods and in with lighter, healthier eats.

The solution is to eat foods that are in season. This allows you to eat foods that have more...

The Differences Between 10 Types of Nut Butter

Courtesy of Insider
Alternative nut butter has drawn the attention away from the classic and much-loved peanut butter in recent years. With varieties such as almond, macadamia, walnut, and cashew, there are many nut spreads to choose from at the grocery store. But how do you know which more...

Are Purple Carrots Healthier? Nutrition, Benefits, and Uses

Courtesy of Healthline

All types of carrots are highly nutritious, but purple carrots are especially rich in powerful antioxidants known to fight inflammation and benefit certain health conditions.

This article reviews the benefits of purple carrots and gives you tips on how to add these more...

Mood-Boosting Foods to Beat the Blues

Courtesy of MDLinx

“Certain foods can boost your mood,” explained Perri Halperin, MS, RD, clinical dietitian, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, NY. “The best nutritional plan is to eat a varied diet and to incorporate foods that have been shown more...

How Much and What Kind of Fat Should My Meal Include?

Q: Please provide a guideline for reading a nutrition label regarding fats. What is acceptable for the breakdown of the fats: total, saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated? Hopefully, everyone gets it re: trans fat.
By Mary Parsons, MS, RD
A: You’re not alone in wondering about the best approach for incorporating more...

Are Mushrooms Healthy? Here’s What Experts Say

Courtesy of Time Magazine

Here’s what mushrooms can do for your health, and how to work them into your diet.


17 Smart Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Courtesy of Woman’s Day

Eat at home.
The average family of four spends $11,656 on groceries each year, according to recent more...

What Do I Order for Diabetes AND Heart Health?

Q: Just had a recent heart attack and I am a diabetic, so what do I eat now?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: It can be a challenge to change the way you eat – especially when you have more than one set of dietary restrictions to take into account. But the good news is that many of our healthy eating recommendations work hand in hand to benefit both heart health and blood sugar control for diabetes.

First, let more...

What Are the Health Benefits of Peanuts and Peanut Butter?

Q:  I hear that even with so much fat, peanuts and peanut butter can be a good addition to a healthy diet.  What are the health benefits of peanuts and peanut butter?

By Rachael Derr, RD

A: Today is National Peanut Butter day, a good time to familiarize ourselves with this creamy condiment loved by nutrition fanatics.  But what makes more...

The Science on Soy

Courtesy of Food & Nutrition

The naysayers may be prevailing among the public. A 2016 survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation revealed that, while 68 percent of more...

Mediterranean Diet Named the Best for 2019

Courtesy of CNN
The analysis of 41 eating plans also gave the Mediterranean diet the top spot in several subcategories: best diet for healthy eating, best plant-based diet, best diet for diabetes and easiest diet to follow.
The high accolades are not surprising, as numerous studies found the diet can reduce the risk for more...

Can I Still Eat Out with High Blood Pressure?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: I’ve just been diagnosed with high blood pressure.  Should I stop eating out at restaurants?

High blood pressure diagnoses have become more and more common, making the condition a growing concern in our country. You are certainly not alone in your diagnosis!  Sixty-seven million American adults have high blood pressure, which equates to over 31% of our population.  While high blood pressure more...

What is the Healthiest Curry to Order?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: What is the Healthiest Curry?
A: Curry is one of my favorite foods – spicy, brimming with complex flavors, and great health benefits! From Thai-style curry to Indian-style curry topped with chutney, there are several combinations to explore. When choosing curry while dining out, these are the things you want to look for to order the healthiest curry:
  1. more...

Simple Swaps for a Healthier Meal?

Q: What are some simple swaps I can make for a healthier meal?

A: Sometimes the path to a healthier lifestyle is more about the little changes we make than the big ones. This is true for increasing your movement, reducing stress, losing weight and improving your diet. When it comes to improving your diet, these simple swaps can help get you moving in the right direction without drastic changes:
  • Swap your chicken leg for a more...

What Foods Can Help Reduce Holiday Stress?

Q: What Foods Can Help Reduce Stress During the Holidays?

A: There is no doubt that during the holiday season, things are crazy, and stress can be high.  The good news is that stress, even during these busy holiday months, is manageable both through lifestyle and diet.  To help reduce stress from Thanksgiving through the New Year, add more...

What's the Best Soup to Order?

There are few foods that sum up “comfort food” as well as soup.  Soup can be a hearty, healthy and flavorful solution for a quick weeknight meal or leisurely weekend indulgence throughout the year. If you’re craving a steamy and comforting bowl of soup, follow these dietitian tips to order the best soup and stay on track with your health goals:

Vegetables – Soups can transform vegetables.  The flavors of the celery, tomatoes more...

Does An Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

Q: Is it true that an apple a day can really keep the doctor away?

A: Apples, like pumpkin spice, are everywhere right now!  Fall often brings loads of fresh apples, apple recipes and apple additions to restaurant menus.  While it’s true that apples offer a host of health benefits and fall flavor, there more...

What are the Best “Fall” Spices?

Q: What are the best fall spices to include in fall fruits and vegetables?

Just as fall makes us start thinking of cool-weather fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, apples and yams, this season brings to mind certain spices with warming characteristics.  It’s not just warmth and comfort that many of these spices contribute to your meals, though.  Research has shown that spices can not only add flavor and reduce sodium but also deliver a number of more...

How Can I Keep Halloween Fun for Guests with Food Allergies?

Q. How can I keep Halloween Fun for Guests with Food Allergies?
By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

With the wide assortment of treats getting passed around at school, at parties and on trick-or-treating night, it can be hard to be safe and still have fun like everyone else. Accommodating allergic guests can be intimidating for people who don’t normally have to consider those details, but just a little special attention can help make it a fun night for all. more...

What Are the Benefits of Sweet Potatoes?

This time of year, we see more and more sweet potatoes showing up in recipes, restaurants and blogs.  While they are available year round, sweet potatoes are technically in season during late fall and have become a staple of cooler days.  Whether you’re roasting them with a touch of sweet spice, like nutmeg, baking them with a sprinkle of salt for a more nutritious alternative to traditional more...

What are the Best Fall Fruits and Vegetables to Eat?

By Rachael Derr, RD

The air is crisp, the leaves are just beginning to turn colors… The mark of the start of the holiday season, fall offers so many wonderful fruits and veggies that are at their peak flavor. And another perk? Seasonal produce is usually cheaper, as well! So keep an eye out for these seasonal items at your favorite restaurants and local grocery stores:

What are the Healthiest Choices for Grilled Chicken?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: When surveying a restaurant menu with healthy goals in mind, we often gravitate toward two words: grilled chicken! Its reputation as a reliable healthy choice is well-deserved: chicken breast is a good source of lean protein, and grilling is a go-to cooking technique for creating great flavor without relying on much added fat. But what amount of calories and fat can you expect from a grilled chicken breast more...

Is Sugar from Fruit Bad for Me?

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.
Q: “Is sugar from fruit bad for me?”
A: Great question. Sugar comes in different forms. Fruits have naturally occurring sugar called fructose, or fruit sugar. Other foods may have what’s called “added sugars,” which come from sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or high fructose corn syrup, often found in sodas, candy, sweetened more...

How Can I Plan Healthy Meals for Weight Loss?

By Mary Parsons, M.S., R.D.

Q: I’m trying to lose weight, and I need ideas for lunch and dinner recipes. Can you help me with planning low-calorie, low-carb, low-fat veggie meal ideas?

A: Eating to lose weight can be a challenge: To be successful, we need to consume fewer calories than we are expending (through both exercise and daily life), but we must not be so restrictive that our metabolism is slowed more...

What Should I Order Instead of Fries?

Q. What should I order instead of fries?
By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Also Check Out:


Is Organic Really Better Than Regular Produce?

Question: Organic produce is so expensive! Is it really better than regular produce?

What a great question! Organic foods have become mainstream staples at grocery stores across the country. Many stores now carry an array of fruits and vegetables in the organic section. Organic foods stretch beyond the produce aisle, too. You will see products ranging from green tea to microwave dinners.

The term “organic” refers to how the produce was grown more...

What Are the Best Choices for Healthy Nails?

Q: What nutrients are important for nail health? If I have nail issues, am I missing some nutrient?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Nearly all nutrient deficiencies, including iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, and the more...

What is Saturated Fat?

By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD

Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about saturated and unsaturated fat in the news lately.  What’s the difference between them? And what about monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat?

A: Fats, both saturated fat and unsaturated fat, and their effects on health are regularly a favorite topic of the media.  As new research comes out about these two types of dietary fat, it more...

Is Sea Salt Healthier Than Regular Table Salt?

By Mary Parsons, RD

Good question! To guide your decision about which salt to use, let’s talk about the differences between the two.

Sea salt is evaporated directly from ocean water, with minimal processing involved. So how does this make a nutritional impact? Because the ocean isn’t a pure solution of sodium chloride, the end product retains trace amounts of other marine nutrients, including more...

Should I Be Worried About Mercury at Seafood Restaurants?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Mercury enters the ocean ecosystem from both industrial pollution and naturally-occurring ore deposits, and it can accumulate in fish to levels that can be potentially harmful to humans. Mercury contamination in seafood is a risk, but with a little knowledge and attention, the risk is manageable. The high-quality protein and more...

Are Salad Bars Really a Healthy Choice?

Q: Are salad bars really a healthy choice at restaurants?

A: Yes!  Salad bars can be a great healthy choice at restaurants when you know how to navigate them.  Here are a few tips for a delicious and nutrition-packed salad that our dietitians would be happy to recommend:

  • Stick with the fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit or skip high-fat items like cheese, bacon bits, and creamy dressings.
  • more...

What Are the Nutrition Basics for Eating Out?

Q: I see more and more about nutrition information on restaurant menus, but I’m not always sure what it all means.  What are the nutrition basics I should know when eating out?

A: The focus on nutrition and what it all means is definitely growing!  With restaurant menu labeling rules on the horizon and growing research into how nutrition affects health, for better or worse, it’s good to understand some of the basics to help you more...

What’s the Best Kind of Bread to Order?

Q. What’s the best kind of bread to order?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: Without a doubt, sandwiches are a favorite option for Healthy Dining on the go. We especially love when restaurants offer the opportunity to customize our sandwiches, choosing our favorite nutritious foods for every layer from the ground up. What could be better than building a meal perfectly crafted to satisfy not only our taste buds, but also our more...

Nutrigenomics: The New Frontier of Nutrition

By Danielle Gaffen

What is Nutrigenomics? The term encompasses the interaction of nutrition with one’s genes. The rapidly growing research in this area is producing nutrition advice based on an individual’s genetic profile. This exciting topic is changing the field of nutrition as we know it.
Since the cost of DNA analysis is no longer prohibitive, it is more...

What Are the Best Choices at a Tapas Restaurant?

Q: I am eating out with friends at a tapas restaurant.  What do you recommend I order?

These small bites originated in Spain, where meals are thoroughly savored and enjoyed, and restaurants and bars specializing in these delicacies have become common across the United States. Tapas restaurants are all about smaller portion size and sharing. Instead of ordering a huge plate (even an oversized, loaded salad), you can control the portions that you want. And more...

Why Are Many Restaurant Menu Choices High in Sodium?

A: You pose a great question, as many people are paying closer attention to nutrition labels both in the grocery store and at restaurants.

Salt -- the biggest source of sodium -- has long been used as a flavor enhancer and preservative. Many Americans have become accustomed to highly flavorful foods, which are easier to create with generous use of salt.  Additionally, many prepared items used by restaurants – anything canned, also cheese, bread/buns more...

Studying Poop Samples, Scientists Find Clues on Health and Disease

Courtesy of The Conversation

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in your poop? Perhaps not. But this is precisely what we think about every day at the American Gut Project, the world’s largest microbiome citizen science effort, located at UC San more...

What Are the Best Choices At the Brunch Buffet?

A weekend brunch is always a delicious way to spend time with friends and family, but navigating the brunch buffet can be tricky when your goal is healthier choices.  The good news is that building a better brunch is possible and can be an extra fun way to dine out.

The most important tip to keep in mind is to follow a healthy diet, made up of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and whole grains, most of the time.  This whole diet approach leaves room for the occasional more...

Whose Nutrition Advice Should I Follow?

They may have beautiful websites and social feeds, sensational success stories to support their recommendations, and plenty of followers eager for the secret to lean and healthy; but where is the science?

Registered dietitians (RDs), like those on our Healthy Dining team, go through years of schooling and comprehensive internships.  Every step of a dietitian’s training is based on more...

Can Chain Restaurants be Healthy Choices for Eating Out?

Instead of avoiding certain restaurants, focus on making healthy choices at every restaurant you frequent: fast food, fine dining and everything in between.  This strategy allows for much more flexibility in your healthy lifestyle.
When eating out at restaurants, follow these tips to make the best choices for your health goals:
  • Make fruits and vegetables the centerpiece of your meal.  MyPlate recommends that at least half of your plate be filled with more...

What Should I Eat After a Workout?

  • The biggest goal of post-workout nutrition is reloading your energy stores.  Most experts recommend eating within 30 minutes of completing your workout in order to effectively replace those stores in preparation for your next workout. 
  • A combination of carbohydrates and protein is considered the most effective meal to recover from a workout.  Aim for a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, such more...

Fresh or Frozen?

Question: "What's the big deal about fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables? Can't you get the same nutrients from frozen?"

It's really a matter of personal preference. From a nutritional point of view, you're right....fruits and vegetables that are frozen shortly after being picked retain about as many vitamins and minerals as freshly picked and eaten fruits. Just make sure that there aren’t any other more...

Healthy Eating at Restaurants Has a Whole New Look

January 18, 2018
By Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, and Sara Lucero
There’s a new trend in healthy eating and restaurant dining, and it is leaving behind restriction and deprivation in favor of savoring great meals at restaurants that support a more...

What Foods Are Good for Depression?

Nutrition and Depression

Q. What nutrients can help stimulate appetite and get rid of depression?

Some people are surprised to learn that diet can have such impact on mental health, but certain nutrients have important roles in regulating brain cell membranes and as precursors to neurotransmitters and hormones. Deficiencies in several vitamins and other nutrients have been associated with depression and other mental health issues.

What Are the Best Low Sodium Choices for Those With Pre-Diabetes?

For people with pre-diabetes, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is recommended to help manage the condition and prevent a more serious diagnosis. For those with pre-diabetes who are overweight or obese, weight loss is often recommended.  Losing weight can help reduce the risk of pre-diabetes advancing to diabetes. To eat out while trying to maintain or lose weight, use these tips:
  • Monitor portion sizes. Restaurant meals are often large, so plan ahead to request a more...

Which Foods Can Help Prevent Cancer?

Q: More and more people I know are affected by cancer. Everything I read emphasizes that diet can play a big role in cancer prevention. Which foods can help prevent cancer?

A: There is no doubt that cancer has become a common household topic. As with so many other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, diet plays a large role in the prevention of cancer. Research consistently points to a healthy diet, including certain foods and food more...

Vegetarian Options at Restaurants

Question: What are good vegetarian options at restaurants?
Answer: Great question! There are more and more delicious, healthy, and satisfying vegetarian meals available at restaurants these days. This is in part due to the growing interest in health and nutrition among restaurant-goers, along with mounting more...

Are There Healthy Choices at Italian Restaurants?

Q:  Italian food is my diet downfall.  Are there any healthy choices at Italian restaurants?

A: Although there can be some diet disasters on an Italian restaurant menu, when you know what to look for, there can also be a whole lot of healthy choices.  Don't be afraid to savor some Italian food fi that's what your tastebuds are craving. Follow these tips from our team of dietitians to enjoy your Italian restaurant meal to the more...

Can I Have Cheese and Still Lose Weight?

While many celebrities and influential personalities are touting the benefits of ditching dairy for weight loss, you don’t have to say goodbye to cheese to meet your weight loss goals.

Cheese has a lot of health promoting nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus and protein, so it can be a part of a healthy diet.  One serving of cheese is one more...

How Can I Find the Best Choices at Restaurants for My Whole Family?

Q: We’re back to the school routine and relying more on restaurants for family meals.  I still want our health to be a priority.  How can we find the best choices for everyone in the family when we’re eating out at restaurants?

A: Schools nationwide have opened their more...

Can Red Meat Be a Healthy Choice?

Q:  I keep hearing about the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets for overall health and weight loss, but Carnivore is my middle name.  Can red meat be a healthy choice as part of my diet?

While it is true that many studies have indicated the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets, red meat can be part of a healthy diet, in moderation and when a special diet has not been prescribed by your doctor for specific health concerns.  As with anything else, more...

What Are Some Nutritious New Ways to Order the Best Burger?

We’re in an exciting time for restaurants and food-lovers. Many Americans, like you, are now looking for foods that contribute to health, whether those are whole foods, organic choices, Meatless Monday menu items, increased fruits and vegetables or functional foods. In addition, our more...

What is MSG and why does it get such a bad rap?

Question: What is MSG? I thought It was just a manufactured form or L-glutamate or synthetically made umami. So why does it get such a bad rap? Is it processed in a salt form or something?

Answer: When it comes to MSG, the different related terms can be confusing, so let’s define a few first:
Glutamic acid – a non-more...

Quick and Easy Lunches for the Work Week

Question: What are some easy make-ahead lunches to take to work or healthy lunches I can pick up when I have a quick break?  (Susie, San Diego CA)

Answer: Thanks for your question Susie.  It can be hard to find the time in the morning to prepare a lunch that’s not only tasty but also healthy.  When I am preparing a lunch at home, I look for foods that will keep me full, energized and satisfied to get me more...

How Can I Make Barbecue Healthier?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: “I love my barbecue but hate feeling guilty after I order it. How can you make barbecue healthier?”

A: Summer is here and I know I can’t get barbecue off of my mind! Here are some tips to make your barbecue a healthier choice at restaurants, when the more...

What Are the Best Choices for Men's Health?

Diet plays a pivotal role in health.  The right foods in the right combinations for our unique needs can energize our days, reduce our risk of disease and keep our bodies in top form. In general, a healthy diet should be made up of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins like seafood and chicken, and whole grains.  MyPlate has a wealth of resources to build a more healthful meal. more...

How Can I Order the Best Salad at a Restaurant?

Q: I’ve heard that salads are sometimes the worst thing on the menu even though they have such healthy ingredients.  How can I order the best salad at a restaurant to get the nutrition without too many calories?

Loaded with greens and fresh, crispy, vitamin-packed veggies, salads may seem like a given as the best choice on the menu, but that’s not always the case.  As more restaurants add calorie and nutrition information to menus, you may more...

What is the MIND Diet?

The MIND Diet is one of the newer diets in the news, and it is receiving favorable reviews across the board.  The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) Diet is a hybrid of two highly respected and recommended diets with which you may already be familiar, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet and the Mediterranean Diet.  What is different about the MIND Diet is its aim to lower your risk of mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease more...

What Are the Healthiest Ways to Order Sushi?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q: What are the healthiest ways to order sushi?

Most people think of sushi as a very healthy meal, and they’re not wrong! The focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients such as fish and vegetables in sushi certainly goes hand-in-hand with healthy dining. But no cuisine is without its caveats.

Follow our dietitian lead for your healthiest sushi meal yet!

Are Late Night Nibbles OK?

Try to eat most of your calories, fats and carbs earlier in the day when your body can efficiently process the foods.
Still, if your body is hungry, feed it. You don’t want your body to go into starvation mode, feeling like it needs to save up. Eating keeps your metabolism going, too.
If you do get hungry late at night and you can’t shake the feeling, have a light snack. Just don’t eat anything heavy or spicy at night, because you could get more...

What Are the Best Heart Healthy Choices at Vietnamese Restaurants?

Q:  I was recently placed on a low-sodium, low-fat diet after I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  What are the best dishes to choose at a Vietnamese restaurant? 
Good nutrition and lifestyle are an important part of heart health.  In general, it is best to choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and heart-healthy fats.

Vietnamese cuisine is traditionally rich more...

What Are the Benefits of Turmeric?

Q: Is turmeric really as great for health as everyone says?
While there is still much more to be learned about turmeric and its health benefits, it seems that this key ingredient in curry has been shown to help reduce inflammation more...

How Can I Make My Meal More Heart Healthy?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: With a family history of heart disease, I'd like to start taking action now to lower my risk. What are some tips to order a more heart healthy meal when I eat out at restaurants?

This is such a timely question right now during Heart Health Month!  These tips can help you make your restaurant meals work for you and your heart without giving up the good food you love at restaurants:

Focus on fruits and more...

What Are the Benefits of Ginger?

Yes! Like so many other plants, ginger has been associated with some unique health benefits.  Often found in Asian dishes, ginger has a distinctive flavor that can add a hint of sweetness and spice.  It may be the main flavor of the meal such as Ginger Chicken or a supporting ingredient helping to more...

What Are the Best Choices for Weight Loss Resolutions?

You are not alone in making weight loss resolutions for the New Year!  In fact, it’s estimated that almost 40% of all resolutions are related to losing weight, and it’s no secret that restaurants can have a big impact on achieving those goals.  It can be so exciting and motivating to record on paper your resolutions and envision a more energized, leaner you come swimsuit season, right? The trick is translating that big and exciting resolution into a long-term lifestyle more...

Top 15 Ask the RD Posts of 2016

Nutrition has been top of mind for many during 2016!  Healthy Dining’s dietitians have received a variety of questions about how to make the best choices at restaurants as part of a healthier lifestyle and we’ve rounded up some of the best answers.  Here are the top 15 Ask the RD posts to give you a jump start on New Year’s resolutions and help you eat make healthier choices at restaurants:
  1. more...

What Are the Best Choices on the Road?

Whether you’re flying, taking the train or driving to your holiday destination, it is still possible to find great choices on the way.  Why put your healthy lifestyle on hold when you can follow these easy tips to stay on track:
  • First and foremost, remember that it’s more important than ever during the hectic holidays to treat yourself well!  Foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help keep blood sugar steady and keep you satisfied more...

What’s the Best Pho to Order?

Q: What’s the Best Pho to Order at a Restaurant?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD  

A: The number of Pho fans is growing, pho sure!  Flavorful spiced broth, rice noodles, thinly sliced meat, and more...

Which Foods Help Reduce Inflammation?

Q: What should I order at restaurants to help reduce inflammation?
There are specific conditions that can be improved through consuming an anti-inflammatory diet, but in general, everyone can benefit from eating more anti-inflammatory foods. Common conditions that cause chronic inflammation in the body include rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, to name just a few. Research is even identifying inflammation as more...

What are the Best Foods for Cold and Flu Season?

Q: What are the best foods for cold and flu season?

A: There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Cold and flu season has arrived! It’s time to get serious about fighting off those viruses, and one of the best ways is with your diet. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats is not only good for managing your weight and well-being; it’s also a powerful way to boost your immune system more...

What is a Functional Food?

Q: What is a functional food?

Functional foods are one of the biggest trends right now, but chances are you’re already incorporating these foods into your daily diet for flavor and health – especially if you regularly opt for the dietitian-recommended Healthy Dining choices at restaurants. 

According to the Academy of Nutrition and more...

What Are the Diabetes-Friendly Options at Restaurants?

Q: I have just been told I have diabetes. I like all sorts of foods. What do you suggest I order?

You are not alone! There are 29.1 million people (children and adults) in the U.S. with diabetes and another 86 million people with pre-diabetes. People with diabetes may be trying to lose weight, watch their sodium intake, and/or watch more...

What’s the Best Pasta to Order?

When you opt for a balanced option like one of these, you can lose the carb-lover’s guilt and feel good about a nutritious choice that supports your health goals:
  • The Pasta con Broccoli with Chicken (6 oz.) at America’s Incredible Pizza Company is a great option that includes whole wheat pasta, fresh veggies and chicken. Whole grains, veggies and lean protein all in one dish is a more...

How Can I Get Enough Protein on a Vegetarian Diet?

Q: I keep hearing the benefits of a plant-based diet and I'm considering following a vegetarian diet, but I'm worried I won't be getting enough protein.  How do I know how much is enough?

You are not alone in embracing a more plant-based diet.  As research continues to underscore the importance of more vegetables in the diet, more and more people are adopting Meatless Mondays, flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan diets.  This is a great more...

What Are the Best Fruits to Eat?

Q: What are the best fruits to eat?

This is a great question, considering the incredible variety of fruits out there and the fact that it's Fruits and Veggies More Matters Month! 

In short, all fruits are healthy and good to eat!  While each fruit is unique and has a slightly different nutritional make-up, most are naturally sweet, low in calories, high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and loaded with disease fighting compounds.  All of more...

What are the Healthy Options at Mexican Restaurants?

Question: What are the healthiest things to order at a Mexican food restaurant? This is my husband's favorite, and we eat Mexican at least once or twice a week. 
Answer: I don’t think your husband is alone in his love for Mexican food. Its growing popularity in the U.S. is so widespread that the more...

How To Order More Fruits and Veggies

Q: What Are the Easiest Ways to Add Fruits and Veggies to My Restaurant Meals?

One of the easiest places to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet is at restaurants. Not only can restaurants whip up some really amazing choices; they also take the prep work and cooking off your already full plate! 

Fruits and vegetables are an essential piece of a healthy diet, providing an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals along with fiber and flavor more...

Should I Feel Guilty for Having a Drink When Eating Out?

Q: Should I Feel Guilty for Having a Drink When Eating Out?

First, we recommend giving up the guilt over your food and drink choices. A healthy lifestyle is about the big picture, a picture rich in nutritious, high-quality foods and accented with some indulgence like an occasional drink with dinner. Second, moderation is key!

Whether your drink of choice is a frosty pint of more...

What Foods Can Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: “Are there foods that can help reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?” 
A: The thought of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be anxiety provoking, especially if you have a family history of this disease.

Many studies have been conducted recently to explore possible correlations between certain foods and prevention more...

How Can My Kids Get the Nutrition They Need?

Q: How Can My Kids Get the Nutrition They Need, Now That They’re Back to School and Fall Activities?
First, everyone is unique in their nutrition needs.  Calorie, vitamin, mineral and similar needs vary based on age, gender, activity level and more.  You can find specific recommendations for your family in the most recent Dietary Guidelines. With more...

Better Burger: Char Grilled or Flat Top?

Q: Is it better to have a burger patty only cooked on the char grill instead of a flat top when trying to lose weight?

Hamburgers... America’s all-time favorite food is now getting a face lift with the rise of gourmet burger restaurants and gastro pubs. With intriguing names like Burger Lounge and Umami Burger, how could your taste buds not be titillated? Some burger joints use the old-fashioned method of char-grilling, which is a lighter way to prepare your more...

How Do I Order the Best Sandwich?

Q: I’m a big fan of sandwiches during the hot summer days, but I know they can add up in calories.  How do I order the best sandwich?

Whether you make your sandwich at home or order one at a restaurant, how you build it can make all the difference when it comes to nutrition and calories.  Depending on your goals, lifestyle and dietary needs, your sandwich choices may change, but these tips can help guide you to order or build a better sandwich:


What’s the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Q: There are so many diets out there that it’s hard to know which to follow. What’s the best diet for weight loss?

It sounds like you’ve picked a popular health goal: to lose weight. Resolving to do it is the easy part; reaching your goals may be a little harder, especially when it comes to deciding on the best diet for weight loss AND your lifestyle.

That’s right. A personalized approach that works with your life is often the more...

What Are Some Easy, Healthy Eating Tips for Kids?

Q: I’d like to teach my kids to make good food choices, but there’s so much information out there it can get confusing.  Can you give me some nutrition tips for kids that we can follow at home and eating out?

Along with limiting screen time, encouraging healthy eating is probably one of the biggest battles parents face. The avalanche of information available on the topic and wall-to-wall experts offering advice can make it even more complicated.  The good news more...

What Are the Best Choices at Restaurants for Kids?

Q: I don’t have time to sort through and understand restaurant nutrition information.  What are the best choices for my kids at restaurants?

A: You are certainly not alone as a parent short on time!  We’ll make this short and sweet.  In general, the best choices for kidsmore...

What’s the Best Way to Stay Hydrated?

Q: What’s the Best Way to Stay Hydrated as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle?
Recently, studies have come out with reports that drinking a set amount of water each day might not be as important as previously thought. For many years, we have been told to drink 8 – 8 oz. glasses of water every day to stay sufficiently hydrated. Now, studies are showing that our bodies are actually very more...

Should I Follow a Gluten-Free Diet?

Q: I hear a lot about gluten-free diets and see more and more restaurants promoting gluten-free choices.  Should I be on a gluten-free diet?
The answer is maybe! Your physician is the best person to help you know for sure. In recent years, there has been a lot of hype surrounding “gluten.” On one hand, this hype has led to the increase in availability of gluten-free products on more...

How to Get Back on Track After a Weekend Splurge

Q: I went overboard during the holiday weekend! How should I get back on track after my splurge weekend?
Weekend splurges.  They happen to everyone from time to time.  The key is to make them occasional detours (not every weekend) and to get right back on track with your healthy lifestyle and goals as soon as possible.  These tips can help you ditch any guilt and help you put that weekend splurge in the rearview mirror:

What Should I Eat As I Age?

National Senior Health and Fitness Day is May 25th! This day is designed to educate seniors on the importance of health with aging and how to achieve health and fitness goals. You may know that as we age, it may become more difficult to maintain proper nutrition, and muscle loss occurs at a faster rate, leading to a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. This is why it is so important to not only exercise on a regular basis, but also eat the right diet more...

What Are the Health Benefits of Walnuts?


Many dieters are wary of nuts because they are relatively high in fat and calories, but the type of fat along with the abundant nutrients they contain make walnuts a healthy choice. To avoid excessive calorie consumption, limit yourself to a single 1-ounce serving of walnuts a day. 

One easy way to get your daily serving of walnuts is when you dine out! The next time you’re visiting a favorite restaurant, try one of more...

Is Grilled Shrimp Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol?

By Nancy Snyder, MS, RD

Q: Is Grilled Shrimp Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol?

A: Shrimp is a delicious and healthy protein option, as it is both low in calories and saturated fat; based on a 4-ounce portion (measured raw), a serving of shrimp contains just 100 calories and less than one gram of saturated fat. And what’s more, this seafood is a great source of heart healthy, omega 3 fatty acids and B12.


What Are the Best Ways to Order Shrimp at a Restaurant?

Be aware that shrimp is relatively high in cholesterol and sodium compared to other lean proteins, but also keep in mind that the most recent revision to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has relaxed recommendations on limiting cholesterol intake. Research has shown that for most individuals, the amount of cholesterol consumed has little effect on blood cholesterol levels. more...

Dining Tips for Cinco de Mayo?

Q:  I made plans to go out to eat with friends for Cinco de Mayo, but I don’t want to blow my diet!  What are the best tips to eat out at a Mexican restaurant?

How to find healthy choices at Mexican restaurants is one of the most popular topics here at HealthyDiningFinder.  It’s also a favorite of ours to discuss because most people assume more...

What Are Restaurants Doing to Make Menus Healthier?

Q: What are restaurants doing to make their menus healthier?
A: As more and more consumers actively seek healthier choices at restaurants, this becomes a much more common question.  We’re now well into the New Year, and 2016 is promising to be a year driven by your demand for healthier menu choices prepared with clean, locally sourced ingredients complete with easy-to-use nutrition and allergen information. Restaurants nationwide are listening more...

What is National Nutrition Month?

Q: I keep hearing about National Nutrition Month.  What is it?
Is it any surprise that National Nutrition Month® is one of our favorite times of year?  In a nutshell, this annual campaign was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) with the purpose of educating and informing the public on the importance of nutritious food choices as part of a healthy lifestyle. more...

What Are the Best Choices for Dining with Diabetes at Olive Garden?

Q: What Are the Best Choices for Dining with Diabetes at Olive Garden?

Nutritional needs vary for each person with diabetes depending upon calorie needs, medications, other health issues, and diabetes management goals. The American Diabetes Association recommends that each person with diabetes should receive individualized nutritional therapy, preferably provided by a registered dietitian, as an effective component of the overall treatment plan. The association more...

Foods to Lower Blood Pressure?

Q: What foods lower blood pressure?

A: Like with so many other health concerns, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, food is a powerful ally when it comes to blood pressure control. The right foods can help lower blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart disease while also supporting a delicious and healthy lifestyle.

In general, following a diet that is high in fiber and low in sodium is a smart strategy. The DASH Diet was more...

What Are the Best Foods to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes, Pre-Diabetes and Diabesity?

Q: Several people in my family have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes or diabesity. What foods are best to prevent a similar diagnosis?

This is such a timely question! As I’m sure you’ve seen in the headlines, the rates of diabesity, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes are rapidly growing and negatively impacting millions of lives. The good news is that these diseases can be prevented, managed and in some cases even reversed with a healthy more...

How Can You Eat Healthy at a Buffet?

Q: We like to eat out at buffets, but I’m trying to watch my weight.  How can I eat healthy at buffets?

A: If you like plenty of choices for your diet, buffets can be a great option.  Though they may not always be thought of as “healthy restaurants,” buffets can be a smart way to enjoy a wide variety of dishes.  Whether it's a holiday buffet at a home or a restaurant buffet, they can be a great choice.  The more...

What Does the Report on Meat and Cancer Mean for Me?

Q: What does the report on meat and cancer mean for me?

A: The recently released World Health Organization Report linking processed meats to cancer has been making big news.  In fact, if you’ve been reading the headlines about the report, you may have some second thoughts about eating that sirloin sitting in your fridge for dinner tonight.

While the headlines focus on Meat = Cancer, the full report offers much more clarity more...

What are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin?

Q: What are the health benefits of pumpkin?

A: There is little doubt that pumpkin is one of the stars of fall.  It’s almost as if the first day of fall is actually the first day we start seeing pumpkin pop up on menus and store shelves!  All of this pumpkin may bring to mind cakes, cookies, pies and lattes loaded with calories and fat, but there’s more to this star than just that.
Pumpkin is actually loaded with good-for more...

How Much Sodium is in Chicken Chow Mein?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: How much sodium is in Chicken Chow Mein?
A: Great question! Typically, Asian cuisines tend to run relatively high in sodium, due to ingredients that are naturally higher in salt such as: soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, mushroom sauce and hoisin sauce. One order of Chow Mein can range from 500 to 3,680 milligrams of sodium, depending on the restaurant’s recipe. To put that in more...

Which Foods Can Help Control Blood Sugar Levels?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: “What foods raise your blood sugar? How can I reduce my blood sugar without medication?”

Fantastic question! According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistic Report, 29.1 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, and 86 million people have pre-diabetes. These individuals must pay attention to their diets in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels. But what causes a rise in more...

What are the Best Fall Fruits and Vegetables?

By Rachael Derr, RD

The air is crisp, the leaves are just beginning to turn colors… fall is here.  Fall offers so many wonderful fruits and veggies that are at their peak flavor.  Seasonal produce is usually cheaper, as well! So keep an eye out for these seasonal fruits and vegetables at your favorite restaurants and local grocery stores:

  • Apples – Rich in dietary fiber, apples come in so more...

How Do I Find Sodium Counts When Eating Out?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: How do I find sodium counts when eating out.

A: Given the increased sodium values found in many restaurant meals, it is important to know how much sodium we are consuming when eating out.

First, try to do some research about the restaurant’s menu prior to getting to arriving. Many restaurants have nutrition information available on their websites. This is helpful to customers more...

How Do I Dine Out for a Cause?

Q: I keep hearing about different ways restaurants are giving back.  What’s an easy way for me to eat out and get involved? 

A: More and more restaurants are getting involved with causes both in their community and nationwide to give back.  Some restaurants hold events and fundraisers for causes such as juvenile diabetes or more...

Which Foods Can Help Me Manage My Cholesterol?

Q: Which foods should I order at restaurants to help me manage my cholesterol?

A: If you’re managing your cholesterol levels, chances are you may worry about eating out at restaurants.  The good news is that restaurants and many of their tempting menu choices can actually more...

Is a Low Carb Diet a Good Choice for Weight Loss?

Q: I’m desperate to lose some weight, and I hear a low carb diet can be a quick way to do it. Is a low carb diet a good choice for weight loss?

A: Low carb diets have become the celebrity of the weight loss world. These restrictive weight loss plans are often in the news and have become a popular mainstream choice. Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of a low carb diet these days? Studies come and go comparing low carb diets to other more...

What Are Some Ways to Win at Healthy Eating?

Q: I’d like to step up my nutrition for health reasons.  What is the best place to get started to win at healthy eating?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD:

A: You don’t have to be a health nut to want to step up your nutrition.  You may have had a health scare or diagnosis, you may be trying to lose weight, you may want to “walk the talk” for your kids or you may just have noticed that you feel better when you more...

Can Spicy Food Help Boost Weight Loss?

Q: Is it true that eating spicy food at home and at restaurants can help fire up weight loss?

A: Spicy food is certainly nothing new.  Fiery chili peppers of all shapes, sizes and Scoville heat units have been used to spice up cooking around the world for thousands of years.  What is new is the more...

How Can I Make My Favorite Foods More Sodium Savvy?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: My husband was just diagnosed with high blood pressure and has been advised to cut back on sodium but doesn’t want to give up his favorite foods. What are some easy ways to reduce sodium in common foods?

A: As dietitians, we know how scary and frustrating it can be to have to change your diet, especially if numerous changes are called for. But, have no fear—we are here to help!

What’s Considered a Shrimp Serving?

Q: What's considered a shrimp serving (boiled or fried) and does it make a difference?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: 4 oz. is a standard serving size for protein-based foods; depending on the size grade of your shrimp, this translates to the following approximate shrimp serving sizes:
  • Jumbo (21/25 count per pound): 5-6 shrimp
  • Large (31/35 count per pound): 8-9 shrimp
  • more...

Does Beer Offer Health Benefits?

By Nancy Snyder, MS, RD

Q: Does Beer Offer Health Benefits?

A: As craft beer has grown in popularity, this question is asked more and more frequently.  Even researchers have begun taking a closer look at this ancient brew.  While we only seem to hear about the health benefits of wine, beer can also deliver some nutritional perks while serving as a healthier alternative to soda and other sugary beverages. 

Not more...

Can I Find Healthy Choices at Mexican Restaurants?

Q: My #1 New Year’s resolution this year is to eat healthier to lose weight, but I don’t think I can give up my favorite – Mexican food – which I hear is SO unhealthy.  Can I find healthy choices at Mexican restaurants?

A: Have no fear!  You CAN find healthy choices at Mexican restaurants!  Mexican food is one of our more...

Is There a Way to Order Healthier Lasagna?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q: What kind of lasagna should I order if I want a healthier choice?

A: You may wonder if it’s even possible to find a healthier choice for lasagna, since the typical lasagna includes layers of refined white pasta loaded with red meat draped in creamy sauces and oozing with cheese – mamma mia! But never forget that every food fits, and there is absolutely a way to maintain a more...

Is There Too Much Sodium in Fish?

Q: Is there too much sodium in fish?

A: If you’re watching your sodium intake, you may be taking a closer look at the foods that make up your diet.  According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, sodium should be limited to less than 2,300 mg a day or 1,500 mg if you are over the age of 51, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease or are African American.  We all know that the salt shaker can add more...

What One Thing Can Make My Burger Better?

Q: What one thing can I do to order a “better” burger without necessarily ordering a “healthy” burger?

A: Sometimes you just have to have a burger -- we get it!  There are some great burger choices out there (and on HealthyDiningFinder) that can help you cure your craving and get some good-for-you nutrition while you’re at it.  For those days when you want a burger, not necessarily a healthy burger, and want more...

What Low Sodium Choices Are Available at Restaurants?

Q: I would like to know about restaurant food with low sodium. What can I eat?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: According to the FDA, over 75% of the sodium in Americans’ diets comes from packaged and restaurant foods. The good news is that more and more restaurants are beginning to step up to change their menu offerings to meet consumer demand for healthier meals, including those with lower sodium, but it can still be a more...

Can Garcinia Cambogia Help with Weight Loss?

Q: Do people really lose weight taking Garcinia cambogia before they eat, and is it safe? Or is this just hype?

A: Garcinia cambogia, a citrus fruit from Southeast Asia, has gained attention in recent years for its use in various commercial weight loss products.  Specifically, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), an extract from the plant’s rind, has been touted for its supposed effects of suppressing appetite, preventing fat more...

Which Fry is the Better Choice: Potato vs. Sweet Potato?

Q: Which Fry is the Better Choice: Potato vs. Sweet Potato?

You’re probably seeing that more and more restaurants are offering sweet potato fries in addition to the classic white potato fries on the menu.  In this battle of potato vs. sweet potato, you may already have a preference for one or the other. If you’re wondering which may be better for your diet, the bottom line is sweet potatoes and white potatoes have more...

What Are Good Herbs to Use in Place of Salt?

Q:  My doctor has recommended watching my sodium intake.  What are good herbs to use in place of salt to season dishes?

When it comes to great food, sometimes it’s not about the stars of the show but about the supporting cast, like herbs.  This is especially true when it comes to using herbs to replace some of the salt in your meals.  Herbs and other flavorful supporting ingredients like more...

What Do You Think of the Wheat Belly Diet?

Q: What is your thought about the Wheat Belly Diet?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: Wheat Belly is a best-selling book with a lot of controversial claims about the way our bodies handle wheat. According to the author, the idea is that wheat is inflammatory, addictive, and a trigger for obesity. However, from a dietitian’s perspective, there is a lack of adequate scientific evidence to support the author’s claim that wheat is more...

What Are the Best Choices at Restaurants on Father’s Day for a Low Sodium Diet?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q: Our family is really looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day this year. We’d like to take Dad out to eat, but his doctor has recommended he limit sodium in his diet. What are the best choices for a low-sodium diet at restaurants?

A: typical low-sodium diet that a doctor or registered dietitian might prescribe is a “2g Na” diet, in which the goal is to keep your total sodium intake more...

Which is Better, Egg Roll or Spring Roll?

By Nancy Snyder, MS, RD

Q:  What is the difference between egg rolls and spring rolls, and which is the healthier choice?

A: Essentially it all boils down to two things: preparation method and wrapper.

Egg rolls, which usually contain cuts of meat, are more...

What is the Healthiest Shrimp to Order?

Q: What’s the healthiest way to order shrimp?

A: If you’re a fan of shrimp, you probably know there are plenty of different ways to prepare this succulent little shellfish, and restaurants use them all.  When it comes to enjoying shrimp AND maintaining a healthy diet, some of those shrimp dishes are better choices than others…at least most of the time.  You’re smart to ask about the best ways to order shrimp at more...

What’s the Best Burger to Order?

Q: I don’t want to give up my favorite burgers and fries.  What’s the best burger to order?

A: We hear lots of questions about burgers and fries, popular foods that many people enjoy. Traditional burgers and fries can be notoriously high in calories, fat and even sodium.  If you’re watching your weight or making healthier choices in your diet, you’ll want to be smart about how and how often you order burgers and more...

Is Brisket Healthy?

Q: I am going to a BBQ restaurant. Is brisket healthy?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: Depending on which part of the cut is used, beef brisket can vary in fat content. You can ask your server to be sure, but most restaurants serve the flat of the brisket, which is the leaner part. In addition:
  • Be sure to pay attention to portion size, as many restaurants pile on multiple servings worth of meat more...

Does Cooking Lower Fiber Content?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: While cooking can modify the structure of the fibrous cell walls in plant foods, loss of fiber when cooking is not a real concern. Fiber is tough stuff; it’s the portion of the more...

What are some Meatless Mexican Options for Vegetarians?

By Nancy Snyder, MS, RD

Think going meatless limits your options when dining at Mexican restaurants? Think again! Thanks to popular demand and chef creativity, tasty vegetarian entrées are gaining ground at Mexican restaurants across the country and leading the way to unique flavor combinations and vibrant colors. 

Whether you’re in the mood for tasty tacos or have your heart set on a burrito, meatless options can extend beyond just beans and more...

What Are the Best Choices at Korean Restaurants?

By Nancy Snyder, MS, RD

Q: What are the Best Choices at Korean Restaurants?

A: Korean cuisine can be a smart choice when dining out because many restaurants have maintained the tradition of preparing dishes with minimal fat while delivering taste through fresh ingredients and herbs.
Typical Korean dishes are comprised of a protein—seafood, beef, chicken or soy—that has been marinated and grilled more...

What Are the Best Choices for Cinco de Mayo Celebrations?

That’s right, Cinco de Mayo is here, and with it, one big food-fueled fiesta.  Sure, it’s not the celebration of Mexican independence that so many of us think it is.  True, it’s really not as extravagantly celebrated elsewhere as it is in the U.S., but that’s not going to stop us from enjoying the tasty benefits of this particular day in May.

Contrary to more...

What are Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan?

Q:  I’m seeing a lot more tofu, tempeh and seitan on restaurant menus these days.  What are they and are they healthier than other options?

A: As research continues to point towards the benefits of a plant-based diet, many restaurants are adding vegetarian options with plant-based proteins to the menu more...

What Should I Eat Before I Workout?

Q: I’ve started adding regular workouts to my routine because I want to feel great in my swimsuit this summer.  I’ve heard about pre- and post-workout nutrition, but what is it?

A: You are not alone in ramping up your fitness and nutrition as the spring days are getting warmer and summer closes in.  In fact, according to the recent State of the Plate webinar from the more...

How Are Restaurants Going Green?

Q:  What are restaurants doing to be more environmentally friendly?

A: Environmental sustainability is considered one of the biggest trends in the restaurant industry right now (that and healthier menu choices).  Restaurants large and small are taking steps to be more environmentally friendly.  According to the National Restaurant Association, this trend is even spinning off into more...

What Are the Benefits of Garlic?

Q: What are the benefits of garlic beyond just great flavor for food?

Garlic is often an essential ingredient to add flavor to dishes at home and at restaurants.  In fact, it’s so popular that there is actually a Garlic Day in April!  This common ingredient has been used for thousands of years both in cooking and for medicinal purposes so you’re right to ask about the benefits of garlic beyond more...

Which Foods Can Help Ease Stress?

Q: Tax season has left me stressed, to say the least!  What are some good foods I can eat to help reduce my stress?

A: If you are feeling the effects of stress this month, you are not alone.  In fact, April is Stress Awareness Month.  If taxes and busier schedules have you feeling less than relaxed right now, make sure to include movement in your schedule every day, and indulge in good-for-you foods shown to help relieve stress and more...

Is Grass-Fed Beef Better for You?

By Nancy Snyder, M.S., R.D. 

So what exactly does it mean to be grass-fed?

While all beef cattle in the U.S. are grass-fed for the first year of their lives, conventional beef are “finished” on a grain diet along with supplements to promote weight gain.  In order to qualify as “grass-fed,” the USDA specifies that the cattle must feed on grass exclusively with continuous access to pasture throughout the growing season.  While grass more...

What’s New With Tacos?

Q: I am a big fan of Mexican food, but I’m looking for some new ideas that I can try.  What are some good combinations for building a great taco that’s also healthy?

A: We are right there with you when it comes to Mexican food!  Contrary to popular belief, Mexican cuisine can be a healthy choice when it comes to eating out.  Tacos especially can be a healthier pick, as long as you know what to look for on the menu or how more...

What’s the Benefit of a Spinach Salad Over a Regular Salad?

Q: Is a spinach salad better than a regular salad?

A: Salads can be a great way to meet the recommended servings of vegetables each day, no matter what leafy green you’re using as a base.  Whether it’s a simple side salad or a more robust entrée, a salad provides a unique ability to mix and match healthful ingredients, flavors and textures to customize an option more...

How Can I Order Healthier Spaghetti?

Q:  I don’t want to give up my spaghetti!  What are some healthier ways to order it?

A: A healthy diet isn’t about giving up your favorite foods, especially spaghetti!  While many eating plans and diets focus on restricted or forbidden foods, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics actually recommends a total diet approach that focuses on moderation and healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and more...

What Are the Health Benefits of Tilapia?

Q:  I see tilapia on menus everywhere.  As it’s so popular these days, I’m wondering what the health benefits of tilapia are.

A: This popular fish option shows up in a variety of menu choices, thanks to its mild flavor and versatility.  Along with most other white more...

What is the Healthiest Way to Order an Omelet?

The omelet is a breakfast classic!  Protein-rich eggs delicately cooked with a variety of tantalizing ingredients and folded into a pillow of tasty goodness, omelets are usually a top seller at restaurants.  With so many ways to make this favorite dish, your question is a good one to ask. 

The first question that usually comes up when it comes to more...

What Are the Best Choices for Healthy Chinese Food at Restaurants?

Q: I’m following a healthy diet, but I don’t want to give up my favorite Chinese food.  What are the best choices for healthy Chinese food at restaurants for health and weight loss?

A: Chinese food has earned something of a bad reputation over the years for being a higher calorie, fat and sodium choice when it comes to restaurant food.  Many believe there is no such thing as healthy Chinese food.  The truth is that it' more...

Is a Corn or Flour Tortilla Healthier?

Q: Which is the better choice: corn or flour tortillas?

By Rachael Derr, RD

A: If you’re a fan of Mexican food and tune in to our regular tips on how to choose more...

What Kind of Pizza is Best for My Kids?

Q:  I recently read that kids are eating too much pizza and that it’s bad for their health. Should I stop letting them order pizza in restaurants?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: This recent research that you’re talking about determined that pizza is a top contributor of calories in kids&rsquo more...

What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: I’ve been hearing more and more about dietitians and nutritionists.  What is a registered dietitian nutritionist?

A: Registered dietitian nutritionists, otherwise known as RDs, are the experts in the field of nutrition.  Driven by a passion for food and helping people, more...

What’s the Healthiest Fish to Order?

Q: I know I’m supposed to get regular servings of fish, but is there one variety that’s a better choice than others?

A: It’s true that you should include several servings of fish in your diet each week for optimal health.  In general, fish is a great option for lean protein, which is an important part of a healthy diet.  With that said, it can be confusing, given the variety of fish available at restaurants, to figure out more...

What Are Healthy Ways to Order Enchiladas?

Q: What are healthy ways to order enchiladas?

A: Eating out healthy doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite foods, such as burgers, pizza and enchiladas.  The most sustainable diets are those that include these foods made with healthier ingredients and/or enjoyed in moderation.  If you are a fan of more...

What are the Best Choices at Restaurants to Help Manage My Cholesterol?

If you’re managing your cholesterol levels, chances are you may be a little apprehensive about eating out at restaurants.  Have no fear!  Armed with the right tools and nutrition information, you can find more...

Is There Too Much Sodium at Mexican Restaurants?

Q: Is There Too Much Sodium at Mexican Restaurants?

A: It can be difficult to manage your sodium intake when dining out in general, but is it possible to follow a low sodium diet at a Mexican restaurant? No one more...

How Dietitians Order a Skinny Taco

Q:  Tacos are my go-to choice for eating out, but now that I’m trying to eat healthier, I’m afraid I’ll have to give them up.  What are some healthy ways to order tacos at restaurants?

A: Tacos are one of those perfect foods that can combine loads of tasty ingredients into one portable and delicious package.  There are almost as many ways to enjoy them as there are people that like to order them!  Pick tacos up more...

What Is One Thing I Can Do to Eat Healthier?

Q: I have the worst time maintaining my resolutions every year.  I start out motivated and on track and gradually fall back into old, unhealthy habits, especially when it comes to ordering at restaurants.  If I do nothing else this year, what is ONE thing I can do to eat healthier at restaurants?

A: Congratulations on taking steps to eat healthier, especially at restaurants!  When it comes to maintaining resolutions, you are not alone more...

What are Healthy Choices at a Sports Bar for the Big Game?

Q: Help!  The Big Game is coming up, and everyone is making plans to watch it at the local sports bar.  How can I find healthy choices at a sports bar?

A: The thought of finding healthy choices at a sports bar, especially during one of the biggest sporting events of the year, may seem like a tall order, but have no fear!  Occasions like this may be known for fried, gooey appetizers and dishes that are high in calories and fat and not more...

What About Carbs?

Q:What about carbs? My cardio doc says to stay away or go very, very low on carbs, and the same with fats, calories, sugar, sodium – if I don't want my birth certificate to expire soon…

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

A: Great job taking the initiative to take control of your health! Nutritional needs are very individual and can vary considerably based on personal medical history, lab results and other factors. Your more...

What Are Good Meatless Monday Choices at Restaurants?

Q: One of my resolutions this year is to eat more meatless meals.  What are some good Meatless Monday choices to try at restaurants?

A: You’re in good company in your goal to eat more meatless meals on Meatless Monday and throughout the week.  Not only can embracing Meatless Monday positively impact your wallet and the environment, more...

What Healthier Choices Should My Kids Order at Restaurants?

Q: One of our goals as a family this year is to start making healthier food choices.  What are some healthier choices my kids can order at restaurants?

A: Making healthier food choices as a family is a great goal, especially when you’re including those healthier choices for kids at restaurants!  More and more restaurants are using their culinary creativity to reinvent menus and add healthier choices for kids.  This is great news more...

What Is Menu Labeling?

Q: I keep hearing about menu labeling and calories on restaurant menus.  How will these new regulations affect me when I’m eating out?

Menu Labeling Regulations: What You Can Expect at Restaurants

As 2014 came to a close, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the federally mandated menu labeling regulations first proposed during the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010. You may have noticed that many more...

Which New Year’s Resolutions Should I Ditch?

Q: This time of year is all about making New Year’s resolutions, but which New Year’s resolutions should I ditch this year?

By making resolutions, the New Year can be a great time to focus on healthy lifestyle changes.  These may be overarching resolutions like more...

How Can I Stick to My Resolutions and Still Eat Out?

Q: How Can I Stick to My New Year’s Resolutions and Still Eat Out at Restaurants?

The New Year can mean a fresh start on achieving New Year’s resolutions and long-term health goals.  If your New Year’s resolutions include more...

What’s the Best Way to Eat Eggs?

Q: What are the Healthiest Ways to Make Eggs?

A: Eggs are no longer the feared food they once were, and we couldn’t be happier, considering they are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.  As with any food, moderation and preparation are important for an overall healthy diet, but there are so many healthy egg recipes and menu choices out there, it’s easy to find one to love. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind for more...

Is Tea a Good Choice at Restaurants?

Q: Is tea a good choice at restaurants?

A: This time of year, as the weather cools off and cold and flu season heats up, tea can be an especially appealing choice when eating out at restaurants.  Not only can it be soothing, but tea is also known to contain antioxidants—compounds that can help heal cells from free radical damage caused by the sun, smoke exposure, and other factors.  Although green tea has the highest antioxidant more...

Are There Healthy Choices at Taco Shops?

Q: What are the Healthiest Choices at Taco Shops?

These days, taco shops are as almost as common as Starbucks: one on every corner. These restaurants are often associated with greasy and unhealthy meals (and a very, very long line around 2am), but taco shops can offer plenty of good-for-you options.  Without a doubt, there are always some great choices on the menu to help you stay true to your healthy diet and enjoy the Mexican food you want more...

Can Alcohol Be Part of a Healthy Diet?

Q: Can Alcohol Be Part of a Healthy Diet?
A: With a full calendar of holiday parties and events this time of year, chances are you may be wondering how alcohol – wine, beer and even those hand-crafted cocktails you see at restaurants – fits into your diet.  In fact, moderate drinking – up to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, in more...

Can I Eat Italian on a Low-Sodium Diet?

Q. Can I eat Italian on a low-sodium diet?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

It can be a challenge to follow a special diet when dining out, but Italian food can still fit into a low-sodium diet! Your first step should be to seek nutrition information for your favorite Italian restaurants, which is the most reliable way to predict the sodium content of your meal. When that’s not an option, you may benefit from some of these Sodium Savvy tips for more...

Can Waffles Be Part of a Healthy Breakfast?

Q: Can Waffles be a Healthy Breakfast?

A: A healthy breakfast can come in all different shapes, sizes and flavors – from scrambled egg whites with vegetables to whole grain pancakes with a smear of peanut butter.  Yes, even waffles can make a healthy breakfast when you build them up with high more...

What are Better Choices for Holiday Meals?

Q: What are Some Better Choices for Holiday Meals?

A: Holiday meals are what you make them.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve meals are known for large portions and decadent dishes, but better choices during the holidays are possible and can help you and guests stick to healthy diets to get a jump start on more...

How Do I Stick to My Diet During the Holidays?

Between the multiple holiday parties, festive baked goods, and stocked candy bowls around the office, it can be difficult to stick to a diet during the holidays. Many people fall off their diet plans and stop focusing on weight loss goals more...

What Are Healthy Options at Seafood Restaurants?

Q: What Are the Healthy Options at Seafood Restaurants?

Seafood restaurants can be a great choice when your goal is making healthier choices at restaurants.  Generally, seafood eateries serve a variety of choices that are high in lean protein and beneficial omega 3 fats while at the same time lower in more...

What Are Recommended Portion Sizes?

Portion sizes can be tricky, to say the least!  We all know that to maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to stick to appropriate portion sizes for various foods, but unless you plan on bringing a scale or a set of measuring cups wherever you go, sizes can be difficult to judge.  Restaurant meals, in particular, are often known for their larger portion sizes, and although it may feel like you’re getting a good deal when your server places a generous portion in front of more...

Is it Healthy to Drink Water During Meals?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

While any time is a good time to hydrate, we consider it a healthy habit to sip on a glass of water during your meal. Some people claim that drinking water during meals can hinder digestion, but there is no evidence that stomach acid or enzymes are more...

What are the Best Things to Order at an Indian Restaurant?

Indian cuisine is rich in flavor and full of healthy ingredients.  Making the best choices at an Indian restaurant can be easy to do when you know just what to look for and what to avoid.  Next time the powerfully exotic flavor of Indian food is what you’re craving, keep these tips in mind to order the best choices:
  1. Most dishes are loaded with vegetables such as more...

How Can I Order Healthy at Fast Food Restaurants?

Q: How Can I Order Healthy at Fast Food Restaurants?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

It’s easy to associate fast food with oversized burgers, greasy fries and sky-high calorie counts. But these days, many quick serve restaurants are offering healthful options, and once you’re armed with the right Healthy Dining knowledge, you can approach a fast food menu with confidence that you can make the best choice.

The offerings will more...

4 Tips for Dining Out with Diabetes

Q: I am diabetic and count my calories and carbohydrates. What are my best options when eating out?
A: Healthy dining finder is a great place to start.  This resource can help those with diabetes plan ahead when eating out!  Here you will find nutritional information for a wide variety of restaurants.  You will find values for calories and carbohydrates (along with more...

What Are Some Good Vegetarian Options to Try?

Q: I’m not a vegetarian, but I’d like to start adding more vegetarian choices into my diet during the week and on Meatless Monday.  What are some good vegetarian options to try?

A: Vegetarian diets and the more...

Is it Rude to Ask Restaurants for Nutrition Information?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

On behalf of every registered dietitian (and the rest of our nutrition enthusiasts) at Healthy Dining, I have to answer this question with a resounding NO! Restaurants are part of the service industry, where customer satisfaction is serious business. We definitely do not consider a request for nutrition information to be impolite. In fact, we encourage restaurant patrons to take an active role in working toward a future where restaurants anticipate more...

How Can I Make Healthy Choices at an Asian Restaurant?

Are you craving some healthy Asian food?  Whether your taste buds are begging for Chinese, Thai, Japanese or another type of Asian food, it’s easy to find healthy choices at Asian restaurants when you know what to look for.  In general, focusing on vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is a good start for sticking to a healthy diet, but more...

How Can I Choose the Best Greek Yogurt?

Q. How Can I Choose the Best Greek Yogurt?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

The Greek yogurt trend is at its peak, with grocery shelves fully loaded and restaurants adding it wherever they can.  Taking this Greek yogurt trend home can get a little tricky.  With such a huge selection, trying to separate the best from the rest can get a little overwhelming. The next time you’re faced with the wall of choices in your dairy aisle, follow our more...

What are Some Healthy Ways to Eat Pumpkin?

Fall is the perfect season to get your fill of pumpkin.  Not only is it readily available in the market, pumpkin everything seems to crowd restaurant menus.  Unfortunately, many of the pumpkin products offered are desserts or sugar-filled drinks. Pumpkin itself is a very healthy vegetable, full more...

How Can I Get Used to Whole Grains?

Q: Help!  I don’t like whole grains, so how can I get used to them to take advantage of their health benefits?

A: First, kudos to you for seeking out ways to increase whole grains in your diet!  Whole grains are an excellent way to add nutrients such as folate, B vitamins, fiber and more to your plate, not to mention a richer flavor.  Second, you are not alone in needing to develop a taste for whole grains before you can more...

Are Fast Food Chicken Sandwiches Healthier than Burgers?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q:  Are fast food chicken sandwiches really healthier than burgers?

A: When faced with so many options at the drive through, fast food options, a more...

How Can I Limit Sodium at a Chinese Restaurant?

Chinese food has long been associated with high sodium menu items and MSG leading many to avoid Chinese restaurants all together or go in search of ways to limit sodium.  While many Asian restaurants are now eliminating more...

How Can I Order a Healthy Pizza?

Q: How Can I Order a Healthy Pizza?

A: Yes, you can order a healthy pizza!  To order a healthy pizza, focus on both the ingredients you choose and the serving size.  If you look at most of the pizza servings at the Healthy Dining restaurants, our dietitians usually recommend one slice of an extra-large pizza or two slices of smaller pizza. Some restaurants have personal size pizzas, which are also perfect more...

Are Egg Whites Healthier than Whole Eggs?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q: Are Egg Whites Really Healthier than Whole Eggs?

A: Egg whites have a long-standing reputation as a healthy choice, but is this an old-fashioned idea? In moderation, whole eggs are such a perfect package of nutrition that most nutrition professionals are beginning to agree that tossing out the yolk is a relic of our cholesterol-phobic past.


Can Donuts Be Healthy?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Ahh one of the world’s most sought after sweets… the donut. Fried dough, topped with sugary icing and sometimes stuffed with cream or jelly. Definitely not waistline-friendly. Although it’s perfectly fine to indulge every once in a while, transforming the donut into something a little more health conscious can help take the guilt out of this treat.


What Are Some Ideas for a Healthy Breakfast?

By Rachael Derr, R.D.

Q: What choices other than eggs, oatmeal and cream of wheat can you suggest for a healthy breakfast?

A: Great question! The mornings can be such a rushed time, and it’s so important to get a healthy breakfast in to kick-start your metabolism.  Many people think skipping breakfast will help them lose weight. However, these people are probably more more...

How Can I Make a Healthy Lunch the Kids Will Eat?

Q: "What are some fun ideas and tips to make a healthy lunch the kids will actually eat??"

A: While it’s true that a healthy breakfast can get a kid’s day started on the right foot, a healthy lunch is also vital for kids who are learning and playing throughout the day.  The trick is creating a healthy lunch that your kids will still eat!

Whether you're packing lunch for your kids to take with them more...

How Can I Get My Kids to Eat Healthy Without a Scene?

Q"How can I get my young kids to eat healthy without a scene?"

Whether you’re trying to get your kids to eat healthy at restaurants without making a scene or trying to avoid a battle over a healthy dinner at home, there are many tips out there to help.  Of all the tips, one of the easiest and most effective ways to get kids to eat healthy is to give them choices.


How Do I Order Healthy Pasta?

Q. What are some healthy ways to order pasta? Do healthy restaurant pasta dishes even exist??

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Think MyPlate: aim for a balance of vegetables and lean protein along with your (ideally whole-grain) carbohydrates. Bulking up the meal with these nutrient-dense foods allows us to downsize the pasta portion and create a more nourishing meal.


How Can I Order a Healthy Burger?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

The Burger: You know it, you love it, and it just may be the only food more American than apple pie. While a burger may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a Healthy Dining option, you can still take a health-conscious approach by thinking like a dietitian! The next time you’re ordering a burger, keep in mind these RD-approved tips:

Also more...

What are the Health Benefits of Curry?

By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD:

Q: I’m a big fan of curry powder and curry dishes at restaurants.  What are potential health benefits of curry?

A: The majority of touted health benefits from curry are derived from turmeric, a bright and beautiful yellow/orange colored key ingredient in most curries. Turmeric contains an active compound by the name of curcumin, which is renowned for its antioxidant /anti more...

Are Mexican Taco Salads Healthy?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

We’ve all heard the jokes about taco salads, right? The ones with the punchline about the small amount of lettuce hidden under piles of meat, cheese, fried tortillas, and other high-calorie toppings? Leave it to Healthy Dining’s dietitians to bring back the healthy taco salad! If you make the right selections, a taco salad can be not just delicious, but healthy, too!

Is Dietary Fat a Healthy Source of Calories?

By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD

Q: Does dietary fat fit as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan?

A: Don’t neglect dietary fat as part of your active and healthy lifestyle. Despite the fact that it’s been demonized over recent decades as part of a non-fat and low-fat trend, dietary fat is a crucial part of a healthy diet, particularly if you’re active. 

A few things to know more...

What Healthy Foods Won’t Give Me Gas?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q: What healthy foods won’t give me gas?

A: If you find that your body responds to “healthy foods” with gas or bloating, the likely culprit is fiber. The vegetables and whole grains that dietitians almost invariably recommend are rich in fiber, which can cause gas in people who aren’t accustomed to eating much of it. If you find yourself sensitive when changing your more...

How Do I Order Healthy Curry?

By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD

Q:  Where did curry originate?

A:  The term ‘curry’ comes from the Tamil (primary language in parts of Southern India, Sri Lanka and Singapore) word ‘kari’, which means spicy sauce.  Original curry ingredients included herbs and spices such as ginger, onion, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, fennel, coriander, cinnamon and cloves.  Additional more...

Is Saturated Fat REALLY Bad for Me?

By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD

Q: One day saturated fat is bad for me, and the next day the media is saying it’s not.  Is saturated fat REALLY bad for my health?

A: That is a great question and one that many people are asking these days, after recent news about saturated fat and its effects on health began surfacing in the media.  A good place to start would be more...

What Foods Should I Eat After Exercise?

By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD

Q: I’m just starting a regular exercise and fitness routine, and I keep hearing different suggestions about what to eat for recovery after a workout.  What foods are recommended after exercise?
A: Healthy eating is an important part of any fitness routine.  Carbohydrate and protein are a MUST after exercise, as they serve to decrease muscle and joint tissue damage (and no, a low carb protein more...

Are Juice Fasts and Cleanses Healthy for Weight Loss?

By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD
Q:  Juice fasts and detox cleanses are popular, especially around certain times of the year…what can you tell me about this practice.  Is it a healthy choice for weight loss, and is it still possible to find healthy choices at restaurants while on a juice fast or detox cleanse?
A: As popular as detox cleanses and juice fasts continue to be, I tend to more...

Is Shrimp a Healthy Choice if I Have High Cholesterol?

A: Shrimp, much like eggs, can get a bad rap for its cholesterol content. Many people with high blood more...

Why Can’t I Drink Whole Milk?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q: Why can’t I drink whole milk? I thought it was good fat.

A: While advances in nutrition science are revealing that our traditional categories of “good fat” and “bad fat” may be oversimplified, it is still a helpful approach for making the best food choices.

Most of the fat in whole milk is saturated fat, which is considered a &ldquo more...

What are Probiotics?

Q: I hear a lot about probiotics. What exactly are they, and what foods have them?

A: Probiotics have found a place in the nutrition spotlight over the last several years – and for good reason. 

Probiotics are a variety of beneficial bacteria that actually live in the human intestines.  You may wonder why we would welcome bacteria into our digestive systems when we’re usually focused on removing bacteria more...

What is Gluten?

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.

Q: What is Gluten?

A: We’re glad you asked!  More people have begun to question, “What exactly is gluten?” especially since Jimmy Kimmel asked that question, and many individuals (including those who were following a gluten-free diet!) were unable to provide an answer.  In case you more...

How to Manage My Cholesterol Eating Out

A: Elevated cholesterol in adults is common.  According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every six adults or about 17% of the US adult population has high cholesterol.  High cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease, so you are wise to make healthy changes to help lower your blood cholesterol.  
Here are a few key nutrition recommendations when it comes to lowering or more...

How Can I Avoid MSG at Restaurants?

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.
Q: How can I verify if the food I purchase for home use or am eating at a restaurant has MSG added?

A: MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a food additive and a form of concentrated salt that is added to food to enhance flavor.  It is the sodium salt version of glutamic acid, which is an amino acid.  Glutamic acid is one of the building blocks of protein. It is more...

Will Going Gluten-Free Help me Lose Weight?

Q: Will going gluten-free help me lose weight?

A: The demand for gluten-free products is growing, and many consumers might find themselves at the grocery store wondering if they should purchase the gluten-free alternative to favorite foods. A gluten-free diet is prescribed for those who have celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten. For these individuals, following a gluten-free diet will alleviate painful symptoms like stomach cramping more...

How Can I Add Fiber to My Diet?

Question: "I keep hearing how important fiber is for weight loss and health but it seems so hard to get enough of it.  How can I add more fiber to my diet?

Fiber is a nutrient that is often under consumed by most Americans, so it’s great that you are trying to increase your fiber intake.  Fiber has many different health benefits, such as helping to lower blood cholesterol, promote regularity, maintain a healthy colon, and regulate more...

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Question: "My friend told me she is on a Mediterranean diet. What is that?"
The Mediterranean diet has become very popular in recent years mostly because of its health benefits. Studies indicate that the diet can help improve heart health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.  In addition to these health benefits, many choose to follow the Mediterranean diet for weight loss.  Here are some of the basic components of the Mediterranean more...

Weight Loss and Dining Out

By Rachel Rothman, MS, RD

Question: “My weight loss program is limited to 1,200 calories a day. I’d like to find out which restaurants offer menus of 560 calories with low fat and low sodium?”

Answer: Many people try to reduce calorie intake and keep fat, sodium and other nutrient levels in check.  We are glad you found a weight loss program that works well for you!  It is more...

Changes to Nutrition Facts Labels

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.
Q: “I have heard that the nutrition facts labels on the back of packaged products are changing.  What are the changes that are being made and when will we see these changes?”
A: Great question – the food world has been buzzing about the proposed changes to the nutrition more...

GMO Foods and Dining Out

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.

Q: Do you have a list of GMO free restaurants?  

A: This is such a timely question!  GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, seem to be making headlines almost every day.  First, a GMO refers to plants or animals whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered using advanced scientific techniques.  In other words, characteristics from one plant or animal more...

Weight Loss and Dining Out

Question: What is the best way to lose weight and dine out?

Answer: While many diets rise and fall in popularity over the years, there are a few nutrition principles that have stood the test of time. When it comes to weight loss, the amount of calories you take in is directly related to the numbers on the scale; however it is important to still have your more...

How do Healthy Dining’s Dietitians Make the Best Choices?

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.

“I hear it’s National Nutrition Month.  What exactly does that mean and how can I celebrate?”
This is the second post in our two part series about National Nutrition Month.  Click here to view part 1 in our series.  As we continue the celebration of more...

What is National Nutrition Month?

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.
“I hear it’s National Nutrition Month.  What exactly does that mean and how can I celebrate?”

You are correct that it is National Nutrition Month®.  At Healthy Dining, we love talking about and celebrating nutrition! Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month® takes more...

Eating Out and the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.
Q: “My friend told me I could lose weight on the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet.  How can I do this while dining out?”
A: Many fad diets come and go, and the apple cider vinegar diet happens to be a diet that has been around for a while.  What most people think of when we talk about the apple cider more...

Eating Out With Food Allergies

Q: “My daughter is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and soy free. She is 23 and doesn't know where she can eat out.”
A: It can be tough to eat out with so many dietary restrictions, but there are steps you can take to make sure the food you are getting is safe and free of potential allergens or sensitivities.
A growing number of restaurants are now starting to cater to guests with food allergies and more...

How Do I Add More Fiber to My Diet for Heart Health?

Q:  How do I add more fiber to my diet for heart health?

A: What a great question for American Heart Month!  When it comes to boosting heart health, helping lower blood cholesterol, managing your weight, and regulating blood sugar levels, dietary fiber is a great place to start.  To ensure you’re getting the recommended 20-35 grams of fiber more...

Potatoes and Carbs

By Rachel Rothman, M.S., R.D.
Question: Does rinsing potatoes that have been sliced or cubed for cooking remove any substantial amount of carbohydrates? Thank you so much.
Answer: Great question, Catherine.  A large baked potato (3” by 4.25”) has about 63g of carbohydrates and 300 calories more...

How can I follow a vegan diet at restaurants?

Many restaurants are offering more and more vegetarian and vegan options, which is great for guests eating a plant-based diet. Vegetarian options at restaurants are usually easier to identify (no meat, fish or poultry) than vegan items (no meat, fish, poultry, dairy and/or eggs), but most restaurants are happy to accommodate such special requests as “no cheese” to make your meal vegan-friendly.  When looking for vegan menu choices, the best sources of protein are more...

Healthy and Quick Breakfast Ideas

Q: What are some good, quick breakfast ideas that I can either buy when I'm on my way to work or are easily transportable if I can't eat breakfast at home?

Great question!  It sounds like you already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, with positives ranging from beneficial energy to get through the day to more...

Are There Ever Any "Healthy" Desserts?

Q: Are there ever any "healthy" desserts for special occasions?

What a great question to ask!  The quick answer is that all foods can fit into a healthy diet that regularly includes lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  With that said, when you’re specifically looking for a healthier dessert, try choosing lower calorie options like non-fat yogurt, sherbet or sorbet. Most restaurants also offer fruit as a side item, which can be a good, lower more...

This Tip Can Help You Stick to Your Diet During the Holidays

Question: Help!  How can I stick to my diet during the holidays when we are always eating out?

Answer: With the holidays in full swing, you may feel like you’re eating more than ever.  One of the easiest ways to enjoy the food-centered celebrations in home and dining out without feeling deprived is to control portions.  Restaurant meals especially are often known for their larger portion sizes.   This can be more...

Where to Find Nutrition Help

Question: I have tried many diets over the years, but I have gained a lot of weight over the past year. I’m obese and in my 60s. I have really reached a point of need. Please help. - Nancy

Answer: I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a rough year and that you are having a challenge reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. I understand that it can be a long and often frustrating journey. To get back in control of your diet, lifestyle more...

Great tasting Choices at Denny’s for those with Diabetes

Q: What are good meal options at Denny’s for people with diabetes? -Anonymous Reader
A: All of the Healthy Dining-approved menu items at Denny’s can be good choices for people with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, the diet of more...

Where to Find Quick, Easy, and Allergy-Friendly Recipes

Q: It’s been suggested that I cut out gluten, wheat, dairy, and preservatives from my diet. Can you help me find some quick and easy recipes that don’t include any of these? - Janice

A: The good news is that healthy recipes are not hard to come by these days, thanks to blogs, Pinterest, and organizations posting health-focused, easy-to-make recipes online. Also more common nowadays are food allergies more...

Healthy, Gluten-Free Foods for My Daughter

Q: I am a single mother who grew up eating pasta, breads, and other cheaper foods. I am trying to bring healthier food into the house but find myself at a loss for what to prepare. Further, my daughter is allergic to gluten. I am so overwhelmed that I don't even know where to begin or what I should start doing. Starting over, but how?! -Anonymous Reader

A: Kudos to you for trying to create a healthy eating more...

Best Choices at Olive Garden for People with Diabetes

Q: What are good choices at Olive Garden for people with diabetes? -Anonymous Reader
A: There are lots of good choices at Olive Garden, whether you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or are just looking to follow a well-balanced diet to maintain your overall health. Follow these tips to make the best choices:

Oil Absorption of Fried Foods

Question: I’ve read that it is wise to avoid deep fried food altogether, but I’ve also read that if oil is hot enough, the food doesn’t absorb the oil. I like deep fried fish and deep fried skinless chicken breast, and I do my own deep frying. I’ve tried to do my own tests on this at home, but any insight you can offer on the conflicting literature would be greatly appreciated. more...

What Are the Best Restaurant Choices for a Low Potassium Low Sodium Diet

Q: I’m on a low potassium low sodium diet. What restaurant food can I eat? -Anonymous Reader
A: As you already know, following a low potassium low sodium diet can be very difficult. This type of diet is often required for people with chronic kidney disease but may also be necessary for those with Addison’s disease or people taking potassium more...

Sodas and Health

Question: How bad are sodas for you? -Lois
Answer: Sodas—both regular and diet—are not considered nutritious drinks for several reasons. Regular sodas are full of sugar—about 40 grams per 12 fluid ounce can, which is equivalent to 10 teaspoons of sugar.  (To put this in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar to 6-9 more...

Maintaining Weight Loss

Question: I recently lost a lot of weight and am now afraid to eat almost everything, because I do not want to gain back the weight I lost. What can I do?                 
-Anonymous Reader

Answer: Congratulations to you on your recent weight loss! The thought and challenge of maintaining that weight loss can be daunting, but do not worry; it can be more...

What is the Paleo Diet?

Question: People keep raving to me about the Paleo Diet. I’ve done a little research and have found studies both for and somewhat against this diet. Is this another fad diet or is it legitimate?                  -Jake

Answer: The Paleo Diet is certainly making waves in the health, nutrition, and foodie worlds. It all started when more...

Sweet Potato & Yams

Question: What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?
-Anonymous Reader

Answer: This is a question I hear all the time—from friends and family, among my dietitian colleagues, and by fellow grocery shoppers. It may come as quite a surprise, but yams are very rare in the U.S.—it’s sweet potatoes that we’re eating more...

Should I Pay Attention to Dry or Cooked Weights of Food?

Question: I just weighed 2 ounces of dried spaghetti. After cooking, it weighed 8 ounces. I suppose pasta is filled with water, which makes it weigh more. I'm totally confused as to what I should eat or rather how much to eat while dieting.  -Denise

Answer: Good observation! This phenomenon of foods weighing more after cooking than before occurs for a wide variety of foods, including pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa, lentils and dried more...

Healthy Thai Restaurant Options?

Q: What are your suggestions  for healthy Thai food at a Thai restaurant?
- Anonymous Reader

A: Thai food has gained tremendous popularity in the U.S.—even among Olympic athletes! For the healthiest more...

Noodles vs. Pasta?

Question: I use the terms “noodles” and “pasta” interchangeably—but I’m not sure that I should. Can you tell me what the difference is between the two?

Answer: Excellent question! If you’re referring to pasta, then you’re OK using either term—because pasta is a type of noodle. However, noodles are not a type of pasta. (Think about bread; English muffins are a type of bread, but more...

How Healthy are Veggie Burgers?

Q:  Can you tell me how many calories are in a classic veggie burger? I eat them all the time and would like to know.

A: It is difficult to give you an accurate calorie count for a ‘typical’ veggie burger, as they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. But I can give you some tips to make sure you’re eating healthy veggie burgers both at home and when dining out:

  1. Whether pre more...

Can Nachos be a Healthy Choice when Dining Out?

Q: I love nachos. Can nachos be a healthy choice when dining out? – Anonymous Reader

A: Because no two nacho dishes—or bites—are alike, the nutrition information for this popular appetizer can be difficult to pinpoint. But generally speaking, a serving size of most restaurant nacho chips (6-8 chips) tends to be high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. And let’s be honest, how many of us are having just more...

Chinese Take-Out Low Sodium Options?

Q: How can I eat a low-sodium meal when ordering Chinese take-out?
- Anonymous Reader

A: There are some days when we all don’t feel like cooking but also don’t feel like eating in a restaurant—preferring instead to enjoy our freshly prepared food in the comfort of our own homes with our sweatpants on! It’s OK to do that—especially because you can still stick to a healthy and low sodium diet, even when ordering more...

What is nutrition value (carbs, calories, fats) for one serving of coleslaw?

Question: What is nutrition value (carbs, calories, fats) for one serving of coleslaw?
- Peter H., New Jersey

Answer: It is difficult to say exactly how many calories, grams of carbs/fat/saturated fat and milligrams of sodium are in one serving of coleslaw, because there are many different ways to prepare this side item. Coleslaw is typically shredded cabbage and carrots with a mayonnaise based dressing. However, different vegetables, fruits more...

Cherries for Gout?

A: Gout is a condition caused by the build-up of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid deposits form in joints, often of the big toe, causing pain and swelling. The exact cause of gout is unknown, though genetics, gender, age, and certain medical conditions and medications may put you at greater risk for developing gout. Certain dietary factors have also been associated with increased risk of developing gout, such as a higher intake of meat and seafood and heavy alcohol use more...

I’ve heard that soy foods can decrease testosterone levels. Is this true?

Q: I know that I should cut back on red meat to lower my cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. I’m trying to eat more fish, chicken, eggs, and beans as protein sources in many of my meals, but my girlfriend also suggested I give tofu and edamame a try. However, I’ve heard that soy foods can decrease testosterone levels. Is this true?                 
-Nick E more...

I’m never quite sure how to select fresh limes. Any advice?

Q: I love the flavor of fresh limes, but I’m never quite sure how to select fresh ones at the store or how to store them once I get them home. Any advice?

A: The flavor of fresh limes is so light, citrusy, and refreshing! Lucky for us all, they are pretty easy to store—so are easy to keep on hand for use at a moment’s notice.  When selecting limes, look for fruits with smooth and shiny skins that are yellow-green in more...

Are there Other Healthy Ways to Cook and Prepare Asparagus?

Q: I am so happy it is asparagus season—I look forward to it all year! But, I have only ever steamed asparagus, and quite frankly, I’m already getting tired of this bland flavor. Are there other healthy ways to cook and prepare asparagus?

A: Yay, asparagus season is here! And yes, there are many ways to prepare and enjoy asparagus without covering it in cream-laden sauces or oil-filled dressings. You can continue to steam the more...

How can I Stop My Habit of Eating Sweets?

Full Question: "I have a bad habit of eating sweets. How can I get off of this habit?"

If you crave sweets, you are not alone! Many -- especially women -- share this "affliction." Some ways to keep your sweet tooth under control:

  • Get enough sleep. Being tired makes you more vulnerable to sweet cravings.
  • Don't skip breakfast. Your first meal of the day should be moderately high in protein (e more...

Are there other foods, besides carrots, that are also good for my eyes?

Q: As a child, I was constantly encouraged to eat my carrots because I was told they would help me see in the dark. Is this true? Are there other foods, besides carrots, that are also good for my eyes?                 
-Sandra C., Massachusetts

A: I was told the same thing when I was young! The fact is that many fruits and vegetables, along more...

If I have a nut allergy, how can I find restaurants that will be safe to eat at?

Going out to eat with a food allergy can be a little scary, but fortunately, more and more restaurants are becoming aware of food allergies and the need to accommodate guests who have them.  Before you go out to eat, ask your allergist to recommend allergy-friendly restaurants. Many times, larger (chain) restaurants are good choices, because they have standardized recipes and are increasingly aware of allergens. Buffet restaurants, ice cream parlors and bakeries have a greater risk of cross more...

Is it true that white vegetables have no nutritional value?

Full Question: Is it true that white vegetables such as cauliflower, turnips and rutabagas, etc.,  have no nutritional value? I find it hard to believe, but someone told me that.

That is a great question! We hear all the time that “white foods” have no nutritional value and we should avoid them. In all honesty, when it comes to “white bread” and “white sugar,” there is some validity to the claim because there more...

How are menu items “Heart Healthy” and have a lot of sodium?

Full Question: My husband has been put on a low sodium diet due to congestive heart failure. He's only 53 years old, and this came on very suddenly. His heart is only pumping at 20 to 25% - so we (I am following the diet with him so that he doesn't have foods that tempt him around) are following the diet very strictly. We’re striving for only 2000 mg of sodium per day, which equals 600 mg per meal, with 100 to 200 mg more...

What is the best way to eat an artichoke?

This crazy looking vegetable can be daunting for first time indulgers, but it is well worth the effort.  The artichoke is actually the unopened bud of a type of thistle plant.  One medium size artichoke contains significant amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and folate.   Whole, steamed artichokes are meant to be eaten slowly, lingering over each delectable bite. When the artichoke arrives at your table, peel off a leaf and bite off the tender bottom portion.  more...

I love roasted vegetables. Are they ever on the menu at restaurants?

Full Question: “I love roasted vegetables. At home I roast mostly sweet potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Yum! Is that something restaurants could offer or is too time consuming to make and keep tasting fresh? I think if more people had the opportunity to try roasted veggies, they would love them.”

It is great that you are preparing your vegetables in such a healthy way at home! more...

What should I order if I have high triglycerides?

Consulting with a dietitian or your physician would be the first step in determining the best diet for you to follow. However, in general, following a heart healthy diet and limiting added sugars would be a good start if you have been told to watch your triglycerides. This means limiting saturated fat (which is found in animal products, such as cheese, dairy, and meats) to no more than 10% of your daily intake and sodium, eliminating trans fats, and incorporating whole grains rich in fiber more...

What are good, quick breakfast ideas on the run?

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day, so it is great that you are trying to fit it in, even if it is on the go.  Many fast food and quick service restaurants are offering healthier breakfast fare, such as fresh fruit smoothies, oatmeal, and leaner breakfast sandwiches. Try to avoid high fat breakfast choices like bacon and sausage, and condiments like butter and margarine. If you are in the mood for a hearty breakfast, opt for egg whites, lean meats such as more...

Is there any food I shouldn't order if I have high cholesterol?

Question: Are there any side items that I shouldn’t order if I have high cholesterol?

Answer: A heart healthy diet contains whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and lean protein and limits foods that are high in fat (especially saturated and trans) and sodium. While all foods can fit (in the right size portions) into a heart healthy diet, some sides are better options than others.  When it comes to potatoes more...

What's the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many families across America are purchasing sweet potatoes (or yams) for their big meal. When at the grocery store, you might notice that the term “yam” and “sweet potato” are interchangeable, thanks to USDA labeling requirements.  However, there is quite a big difference between yams and sweet potatoes, both physically and nutritionally.

Most more...

If I’m watching my weight, is it OK to order an appetizer?

In general, it would depend on what the appetizer is and what you are ordering for your entrée. Pairing two high calorie, high fat items together is not the healthiest strategy when dining out. While many appetizers get a bad rap for being deep fried and loaded with sodium, they also can be a healthy way to start your meal. Look for appetizers that are not fried and focus on fruit, vegetables and/or lean protein.  Such appetizers could range anywhere from a simple more...

Is it true that I shouldn't eat pesto because it is high in fat?

Pesto is a delicious sauce often made from basil, olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. All more...

Are there ever any "healthy" desserts?

Full Question: "Are there ever any "healthy" desserts for special occasions?"

All foods can fit into a healthy diet! First, you can try to choose a lower calorie option like non-fat yogurt or sherbet. Friendly’s Restaurants has some great options if you take this route. Most restaurants offer fruit as a side item, which would also be a good lower calorie choice.

Where can I find the calories for a fish nugget dinner?

The amount of calories and other nutrient levels for a fish nugget dinner can vary widely from one restaurant to the next. Calorie levels for menu items are affected by a number of factors, including the recipe, any accompanying side dishes, specific ingredients, quantities and cooking preparation. For example, one restaurant may choose to marinate the fish in lemon juice and olive oil and then coat it with breadcrumbs before baking. Another may coat the fish with egg and flour before more...

When dining out, are certain types of pasta healthier?

When it comes to pasta, not all are created equal. Pasta noodles can come in a variety of different forms, made from a wide array of ingredients. The most common is made from white semolina flour (wheat), and although this pasta is low in fat and cholesterol, it also has few vitamins and minerals.  The same goes for rice pasta (which is an alternative type of pasta for those with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease). The best pasta in terms of nutrient density would be your whole more...

Will cayenne pepper make you lose weight?

Full Question: "A friend of mine is on The Master Cleanse and said that cayenne pepper will make you lose weight. Is that true?"

Cayenne pepper contains an ingredient called capsaicin, which is what gives peppers their signature “kick.” For many years, peppers have been associated with an increased metabolism and weight loss; however, the scientific community hasn’t agreed upon the validity of that claim because more...

Are there any foods I should avoid when pregnant?

Full Question: "I just found out I was pregnant. Are there any foods I should avoid when dining out?"

First of all, congratulations! Usually moms-to-be have a lot of questions that are best answered by their physicians, so your care can be individualized based on your history. In general, dietitians advise pregnant women to avoid soft cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk (such as feta, camembert and brie cheese), lunch meat and raw more...

What are good alternatives to meat when making vegetarian food?

The Meatless Monday health campaign is sweeping the nation. Not only is incorporating plant based foods into your diet good for your health, it’s easy on both your pocket book and the environment. Meat substitutes like soybeans, tofu and meat analogue (such as vegetarian “chicken” or “beef”) products can fill you up while giving you a protein boost. Beans like black beans, cannellini beans and more...

How do I prepare ginger and use it in meals?

Full Question: "The ginger that I see in the grocery store looks so different from the ginger on my plate at a sushi restaurant. How do I prepare it and use it in meals?"

That is great that you are noticing the different types of fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. It can be easy to just walk to your old standards, but it is always a good idea to venture out and try new variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices. The fresh ginger more...

Is sesame seeds/oil considered a “superfood?”

Question: "I read in a magazine that sesame seeds/oil is considered a “superfood.” Is this true?"

Sesame is a great, healthy addition to any diet and is considered a superfood by many. Being a “superfood” means that it has added health benefits and often contains high amounts of nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.  Many different cultures use sesame as a more...

Do you have any tips on making my lunch healthier and easier?

First of all, it is great that you actually eat lunch! Many people work straight through their lunch, only getting two (or sometimes one) meal a day. When it comes to weekday lunches, I find that most people either dutifully prepare in advance or grab the first thing they see on their way out the door. If you are able to plan your lunch before you run out the house, here are some quick and easy (and healthy!) lunch ideas:
  • Sandwiches can provide a balanced meal in itself more...

How can I stay healthy without giving up my morning latte?

Full Question: "I enjoy having a latte every morning, but it can really add up in calories. How can I keep myself healthy without giving up my morning latte?"

A morning latte can be a nice way to get some extra calcium with your morning boost! Here are a few tips to make sure you latte won’t derail your health goals:
  • Watch the portion size (the smaller the latte, the smaller amount of calories and fat it will have)
  • more...

How can I get my kids to eat vegetables?

Full Question: "My three year old refuses to eat any vegetables. How can I get him to eat healthy?"

Even many of us who love vegetables as adults probably shied away from them as kids.  Let's face it, vegetables are not usually an easy sell!  Hopefully some of these ideas will help:
  • Hide vegetables in other food items. Puree vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or spinach and include them in more...

Any advice on how to control my weight loss when eating restaurants?

Full Question: "I have recently started a new job which requires breakfast and lunch meetings daily. I have been trying to lose weight and now with the added stress of eating out I feel overwhelmed on how to control my weight loss when frequenting restaurants. Please give me some advice. Thank you."

Congratulations on your new job! It can seem more...

Are veggie burgers better for you?

Veggie burgers are a great choice for vegetarians and those looking to lower their saturated fat intake. Veggie burgers come in many varieties; some are packed with soy proteins or cheese, while others contain actual veggies and whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa. Be careful, though, as sometimes restaurants deep fry their veggie burgers to add flavor and texture, a process that adds more calories. Some packaged/processed patties can be higher in sodium than traditional beef burgers more...

What are some healthy choices at an Italian restaurant?

While many people think of Italian food as heavy and loaded with calories, fat and sodium, it can actually be very healthy. Italian staples are nutrition superstars and include whole foods like tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, whole grains, leafy greens and herbs, such as basil and oregano.

When dining out, look for menu choices that are more...

Which restaurants have a gluten free menu?

Those who have celiac disease and need to avoid gluten certainly have challenges when eating out! Over the last few years, restaurants have become much more aware of the need to provide gluten-free options for guests who require them. However, this “movement” is still in its infancy. You’ll need to ask each local restaurant whether it offers gluten-free items. Additionally, though, keep in mind that even if a menu item is gluten-free in terms of the ingredients, there is more...

How many calories are in a salmon naruto roll?

Full Question: "How many calories are in a salmon naruto roll with mushrooms and scallions?"

Thank you for your question. It’s difficult to estimate the amount of calories for your  naruto roll without seeing the recipe for it (even a photo would help). There are a few unknowns, such as whether or not the roll has avocado or a special sauce and how many pieces it has.  As a very general range, we've seen salmon more...

Will ordering a spinach salad help with weight loss?

Full Question: "Does this sound like a healthy meal to lose weight? Going out to dinner tonight. Spinach and Strawberry Salad - Baby Spinach, Fresh Strawberries, Red Grapes, Pistachios, Bermuda Onions with a Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette."

The menu item you selected sounds delicious! Eating salad can be a great way to help you in your weight loss plan. Just be mindful of ingredients that tend to be higher in calories, like the nuts more...

How healthy is a hibachi chicken dinner entree?

Full Question: "What is the nutritional breakdown of a typical hibachi chicken dinner entree?"

We love your question because it provides an opportunity to explain a restaurant truism, which is that there isn't really much that is "typical" when it comes to recipes in restaurants. That is, one restaurant may prepare its chicken dinner with a high-fat sauce and baste it in olive oil; and another with a fruit-based, low more...

Are cornbread or biscuits better for you?

Yum, love them both!  In terms of which is "better" for you, that would depend on the exact recipe being used.  When made commercially, both biscuits and cornbread tend to contain a generous amount of fat.  Both usually call for butter or shortening (high in fat and saturated fat, and in the case of shortening, hydrogenated fat), although we've seen recipes that use olive oil (we like that).  Other factors relating to healthfulness are the amount of more...

What is better at Schlotzsky's, the rye or wheat bread?

The nutrition profiles for Schlotzsky’s Wheat and Rye breads are very similar.  The Wheat is a little higher in fat, sodium and protein and lower in sugar than the Rye, but the differences are very marginal, so you can make your decision based on personal preference and taste.   


Do you use MSG?

MSG (monosodium glutamate) is an additive used to highlight flavors found in foods, including canned soups and processed meats.  It’s also often used by Chinese restaurants and sometimes may also be contained in ingredients used by other kinds of restaurants.  Some of the restaurants that participate in Healthy Dining may use MSG in the preparation of their menu items.  MSG is not generally identified as  part of the menu description.  If MSG is a concern more...

I have vertigo. How much Sodium should I eat?

Full Question: "What is the lowest or highest level of sodium per day I need to have to keep my vertigo under control?"

Most Americans consume much more sodium than is recommended.  Many health organizations, health professionals, and government agencies advise no more than 2300 mg. sodium per day, except for those over age 51, African-Americans, and people with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, in which case 1500 mg more...

What are some healthy Mexican food choices?

Full Question: "What are some healthy food choices when eating out at a Mexican restaurant?" 

Some great choices at Mexican restaurants include grilled chicken or fish tacos, a salad (you can use salsa as dressing!), or fajitas. Healthy side items include corn, nopales, black beans and brown rice - which are all high in fiber! Just remember to ask your server to leave off the sour cream and cheese, and go easy on items like more...

Is olive oil really the healthiest oil to use?

Question: Is olive oil really the healthiest oil to use? Which one is better for you, the extra virgin olive oil or regular olive oil?

Olive oil is a good choice in small amounts.  Like other oils, it should be used in moderation. It is high in fat and calorie dense.  Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) vs. regular olive oil is a classification based on acidity, absence of defects, odor and flavor more...

Does eating right before I go to bed make a difference?

Full Question: "Will eating at a fast food restaurant right before I go to bed make a difference in my metabolism?"

At the end of the day what really matters is calories in vs. calories out. The choice you make at a fast food restaurant is more important than the time you eat. What will make a difference in how your body processes food is having small frequent meals throughout the day. This is an ideal way to keep your more...

Is it ok to eat as much as I want if the meal is healthy?

No! The rules of portion control still apply.  Sometimes “healthy foods” give a misconception that you can eat as much as you want and then you end up eating more calories than if you ate the “unhealthy” version.

What salad dressings are the best choices?

I know some are high in fat, but it seems like those that are low fat are often high in sugar. Vinegar and oil? Just salt and pepper? What is the "safest"?

Yes, sometimes it's a trade-off – some dressings are low in fat but high in sugar and sodium and vice versa. Your decision should be based on your personal dietary needs. Vinegar and olive oil are always a healthy choice, but go easy on the olive oil. Even though it's a healthy fat, it's still more...

What is your opinion of diet soda?

Diet soda is ok in moderation, one a day or every other day. It is definitely not a nutritious beverage choice, meaning it does not have calcium like skim milk or vitamin C like 100% juice. However, it is calorie free or low calorie which is helpful in terms of weight loss purposes if you enjoy the taste. Alternatives would include herbal iced teas or flavored sparkling waters.


What do I order at a fast food restaurant?

Question: "What do I order at a fast food restaurant (especially with kids)?"

Many fast food, chain, and single unit restaurants are starting to have a lot more healthy options on kid’s menus. Check out the search results near you to find all types of restaurants and their dietitian-approved options.  This can take a lot of the guesswork out of sorting through fast food menus.

Healthy Dining more...

Is it ok to ask for something to be made without meat?

Full Question: "I'm a vegetarian, is it ok to ask for something on the menu to be made without meat?"

Yes, you can always ask the server if the chef can prepare a vegetarian dish for you. If not, you can always order different sides to make a meal or order a non-vegetarian dish and make substitutions to make it vegetarian.

Before you arrive to a restaurant do your homework, review their menu online and call the more...

Can I have a dessert without feeling guilty?

Full Question: "If I order a salad as a dinner option can I have a dessert without feeling guilty?"

Many salads on restaurant menus usually aren’t as low in calories and fat as many people think. If you remember to skip the cheese, bacon bits, or creamy dressings etc., salads can be a healthy option. You should never feel guilty about ordering dessert. A great tip is to share the dessert with other people at your table and only more...

What are the best choices for kids at a restaurant?

Many fast food, chain, and single unit restaurants are starting to have a lot more healthy options on kids' menus. Healthy Dining partnered with the National Restaurant Association to launch Kids LiveWell. The restaurants seen on this link have dishes for kids that meet specific nutrition criteria.


What should I order at a fast casual restaurant?

There are a few guidelines you can follow at fast-casual restaurants to help stick to healthier choices.
  • You want to avoid items that say fried or breaded
  • Skip high-fat add-ins such as cheese, sour cream, mayo and guacamole
  • When ordering salad, always ask for the dressing on the side and add the dressing sparingly
  • Opt for the grilled chicken sandwich instead of the burger or fried chicken sandwich
  • A lot of chains are more...

How do I add more fiber to my diet?

Hello Healthy Diners! A really good question came up last week about fiber and whether added fiber in products is beneficial. Here's what our dietitians have to say:

Added fiber is beneficial, but make sure you're getting fiber from a variety of different sources, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, not only what's added into products.

Fiber has many different health benefits, such as helping to lower blood cholesterol, promote more...


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