Practice good eating habits for lifelong health - VA North Texas Health Care System
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Practice good eating habits for lifelong health

Female nutritionist giving live cooking demonstration

Dietician Jennifer Peterson gives a live cooking demonstration.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fast food - it's easy and it's everywhere, but you can still make healthy choices. Eating small portions and using common sense are important. A large cheeseburger, large fries and large soft drink are almost 1,400 calories. That’s a lot for just for one meal. On the other hand, eating small orders of the same food can provide only 700 calories.

Busy schedules often influence our decision to eat out instead of fix a meal at home. When you do eat out, choose places you know will have healthy options. Consider the following:

  • Restaurant portions are often too big, so split the meal with a friend or take the other half home to eat at another time.
  • Look for choices that are roasted, poached, steamed, baked or grilled, rather than sautéed, deep fried or pan fried. Also, ask for any sauce on the side.
  • Choose soups with a clear or tomato base instead of chowders, bisques or cheese.
  • Keep your salad low in fat by opting for grilled meats and leaving the high fat extras such as croutons, nuts, fried noodle strips, cheese and egg at the salad bar. Ask for a low fat dressing.
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat for the entrée. Great choices include skinless poultry and leaner cuts of beef and pork, such as tenderloin. Try fish grilled or baked instead of fried.
  • Add colorful veggies to your plate instead of rice, fries or a loaded baked potato.
  • If bread and chips are too tempting for you, ask your server not to bring the basket to the table.

People and situations have the potential of sabotaging our efforts to eat healthy. Contrary to how you feel, you have control over what you eat.

Healthy eating doesn't have to be time consuming. Plan ahead and you can be assured that your busy schedule doesn't interfere with your health goals. English muffins or bread (both whole wheat) are a terrific base for a quick breakfast sandwich instead of biscuits, croissants or muffins. Try peanut butter, turkey sausage, low fat cheese or even low fat deli meat on your breakfast sandwich to help power your way through the morning. Frozen dinners or canned soups are also quick to fix and are good lunch alternatives to a burger and fries. Look for items that are less than 500 calories and low in fat and sodium. Add fruit (either fresh or in a proportioned cup) to your lunch bag to eat when you want something sweet. Baby carrots and grape tomatoes pack easily and are a healthy alternative to chips.
 
Still need some pointers? VA North Texas offers weekly cooking demonstration classes to teach Veterans and their families how to be more health conscience when preparing meals. Contact the Outpatient Nutrition Clinic at 214-857-0065 for further information.

VA North Texas provides outpatient nutrition clinics in Dallas, Bonham, Fort Worth and at Polk Street VA Annex to assist Veterans with individual education and nutrition counseling, in addition to the MOVE! program. MOVE! is a comprehensive weight loss program that covers educational information on nutrition, behavior changes and physical activity. Veterans interested in weight loss may contact the MOVE! coordinator at 214-857-0094 for more information or to enroll in the program.

VA North Texas Health Care System
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