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FOR RELEASE: March 6, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Health Department Gives Tips for Healthy Eating On-the Go

More than four out of every 10 adults eats at least one meal in a restaurant every day. With the hurried lifestyle adapted by many Americans, eating meals away from home has shifted to quick-service, fast food restaurants. That fact raises an important question for health care professionals, nutritionists, moms and dads everywhere. How does one eat healthy on-the-go?

According to health professionals at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, poor dietary habits put Americans at risk for major health problems like heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. These diseases account for about two-thirds of all adult deaths in the United States. According to the State of the State's Health 2001 Report, using 1999 data, 21.1 percent of all Oklahomans were considered morbidly obese compared to the 1998 national percentage of 18.3 percent.

March is National Nutrition Month and public health professionals offer the following tips for healthy eating on-the-go:

  1. Choose restaurants that offer at least some variety. Look for restaurants that also offer salads, skim milk, low fat yogurt, or grilled chicken or fish in addition to the usual fast fare.
  2. Order sandwiches and burgers without cheese. Cheese adds about 100 calories per slice and 8 grams of fat. Calcium is important, so remember to eat plenty of other foods with calcium like low fat dairy products (skim milk, low fat yogurt), tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, canned salmon, turnip greens or broccoli.
  3. Skip the mayonnaise. Mayonnaise adds about 60 calories per tablespoon! Ask for mustard instead. It only has about 18 calories per tablespoon and no fat. Steer clear of special sauces because most are loaded with fat.
  4. Eat more vegetables but limit the fried ones! A regular order of french fries or onion rings at most popular fast food restaurants has about 320 calories and is loaded with fat. Order a garden salad with reduced or low calorie dressing instead.
  5. Stay with regular sized orders. Words like super, deluxe, supreme, and king-size usually mean extra calories and fat. A super serving of french fries will cost you about 600 calories. Add a deluxe sized drink (42 oz) and you'll rack up another 400. Regular size portions are usually more than enough for most people.
  6. Watch for Mexican food pitfalls. Most Mexican fast food fare is high in calories. However, regular tacos, though relatively high in fat, usually contain about only 200 calories each. Not too bad if you only have one or two. But if you request sour cream, you've added an extra 50 calories to each taco. Be especially careful of refried beans. Refried beans are just as they sound … fried.
  7. Take the skin off your chicken. A crispy fried thigh and drumstick contain about 600 calories. Throw in a biscuit and creamy cole slaw and you're pushing 1000 calories! Search the menu for baked or broiled chicken and add a garden salad. Remember to remove the skin of the chicken and save your waist some inches!
  8. Drink water instead of a soda. Your body needs at least eight glasses of water a day and this is a great way to pump a little H2O without soaking up added calories. A 12-ounce regular soft drink contains about 150 calories. A jumbo 20-ounce drink will have about 250 calories. Diet sodas contain no calories, however, drinks that contain caffeine cause loss of body water and contribute to dehydration.
  9. Go easy on dessert. A sundae or shake is about 350 calories. Fried dessert pies come in a little lower at roughly 300 calories. Those huge cookies contain about 200 calories per cookie! If you just can't resist sweet temptation, split dessert with a friend or eat only half of the order.
  10. Limit your trips to quick service restaurants. Get up 10 minutes earlier and bring a sandwich stuffed with lots of vegetables or healthy leftovers for lunch a few days a week. You'll add variety to your diet, reduce calories, and save money!

For more information, contact the county health department in your area.

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