How to Order Healthy Meals in Restaurants

Look for the red check in restaurants

Look for the red check in restaurants

Do you order heart-healthy meal when you dine out?  Trying to order a diet-friendly meal in a restaurant can be quite a challenge.  Entrees are usually too big and it is hard to find out how much fat, salt and sugar was used to prepare your entree.  But a smart diner can learn to order better meals in restaurants with a few handy tips and tools.

American Heart Association Certification

The American Heart Association provides a helpful guide for diners who want to eat better when they dine out.  Their Dining Out Guide provides tips by cuisine, a guide for deciphering the menu and other helpful tips.

The AHA also provide a certification of certain items on restaurant menus.  If you see the check-mark logo on an entree at your favorite spot, you’ll know that the item meets the nutritional guidelines established for good health by the AHA.  This means that the entire meal contains:

  • less than 700 calories
  • less than 30% of the total calories from fat
  • less than 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • less than 0.5 grams trans fat per the entire meal
  • 900 milligrams or less sodium per the entire meal
  • 10 percent or more of the Daily Value of one of the following nutrients per the entire meal: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, dietary fiber or protein.

Making Good Restaurant Choices

Since the AHA’s restaurant certification program is new, it is very likely that you’ll end up at a restaurant that doesn’t have menu items with the logo.  And very few restaurants provide nutritional information about their food.  So what do you do to make better choices?  Check out our Tips for Staying Social on a Diet.  You’ll find quick tips for dining out and advice for how to manage parties and other situations where food is present.

You’ll  find plenty of resources about diet, exercise advice and healthy eating strategies at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.  Check it out or join the weight loss community on Facebook and Twitter.


How to Shop for Healthier Food

Buy healthy snack food.

Buy healthy snack food.

Are you stocked with the right food to help you lose weight and improve your health?  If you followed my blog post on Tuesday, you’ve taken the time to clean out your refrigerator  and you’ve made room for convenient, easy-to-grab, healthier food options. Now it’s time to fill your fridge with good food.  Let’s get started!

Food to Eat, Food to Avoid 

Before you go to the grocery store, take a few minutes to brainstorm about healthy foods that you enjoy eating.  For example, you might not like all vegetables, but there are probably a few that you like to eat.  Would you eat more fresh fruit if it was available for snacking?  Think about how those foods can replace some of the less healthy snack items that you typically buy.   Once you have a few ideas, use this list of Foods to Increase, Foods to Decrease from the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website to come up with more options to consider when you go to the grocery store.

Create Your Shopping List

Take all of your healthy eating ideas and compile them into a shopping list.  Use our Healthy Shopping List as a guide.   Your list will not only help you to make better choices at the grocery store, but it will help you to navigate the store differently than you normally do.  Many experts recommend that healthy eaters shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where you generally find fresh meat and produce.  Your new route may help you find other healthy food choices.

Need more help coming up with a food plan? Why not meet with a registered dietitian at North Memorial ?  Your primary care provider can give you more information about getting a referral.  A dietitian will help you develop a personalized eating plan so that you can reach your health and weight loss goals.

Looking for more weight loss tips and advice?  Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website.  And get support and daily inspiration by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

Healthy Snack Recipe: Herb-Stuffed Mushrooms

One of the most difficult parts of dieting is giving up high calorie snacks.  But a healthy eating plan can – and should – include snacks.  If you have a sweet tooth, berries or other fresh fruit can be satisfying. But if you like savory foods, snacking can be a little more challenging.  Many savory foods are high in salt, starch and fat.

This healthy recipe can be prepared as a side dish, as an appetizer to be served at parties, or you can make a batch to keep for snacking.  The recipe is provided by the USDA’s MyPlate Holiday Recipe Makeover Program.  You’ll find other healthy recipes for a special occasion or any day of the week by checking their website.

(click on the recipe to see a larger, downloadable recipe to print out)

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Best Diets for 2014

iStockPhotoAre you hunting for a new diet to help you slim down in 2014?  U.S. News and World Report just released their annual list of best diets. Each year the news source evaluates 32 of the most popular diets and identifies the best in a variety of categories including best commercial diet, easiest to follow and best diabetes diet.

Top Diet Trends

When you look at the full list, you’ll see a couple of diets ranked highly in many different categories.  The DASH Diet, for example, was the top rated overall plan as well as the best diet for diabetes and the best diet for healthy eating.  Other diets that fared well include the TLC diet, a low-fat diet that aims to lower cholesterol and the Mediterranean diet that helps to improve heart health. Best commercial diets included Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.

Find the Best Diet for You

Regardless of the list, however, the best diet for you is the one that you’ll stick to.  How do you find it? Get a referral to see a registered dietitian.  An R.D. will evaluate your lifestyle and your past diet history and work with your medical team to develop  an eating plan that works.

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Holiday Plate Makeovers to Keep Your Holidays Healthy

Don’t gain weight this holiday season!  There are simple food swaps and recipe makeovers that you can use to keep your calorie and fat intake in control. Use online tips, recipes, and ideas from to keep your diet on track this holiday season. Calorie counts are listed below, but click on the links for the full recipe and nutritional information.

Need a few quick food swaps for eating on the go? This great infographic provides simple tips for eating a healthier diet during the holidays – and all year long!

(p.s. You should also be sure to find us on facebook for more recipes, tips and advice to keep you motivated during the holidays)


Are “Healthy” Recipes Bad for Your Diet?

DSCN1727As a fitness expert and weight loss writer, I often recommend that dieters cook at home if they want to improve their eating habits. When you cook your own food, it’s easier to know exactly what is in each dish and you can use simple techniques to decrease the fat and calorie content of your meals.  But a research study out of Cornell University raises questions about whether or not home-cooked meals are as healthy as we think.

Research Reveals Recipe Trends

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, evaluated recipes in the popular cookbook The Joy of Cooking.  Researchers found that since 1936 the calorie content of similar recipes has increased. In addition, portion sizes for many recipes has increased as well.

The study authors suggest that this trend is due to a change in “prevailing tastes and norms.”  That just means we’ve  gotten used to fatter, larger portions over the years.

How to Eat Healthier Meals

Cooking at home is still a good idea if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body.  But just because a meal comes out of your own kitchen doesn’t mean that it is necessarily healthy or that you can eat any amount of food that you want.

If you love to cook, look for recipe books that contain nutritional information.  The popular Betty Crocker Cookbook contains nutritional information, and many online recipe sources like also include essential information about the calorie, fat, salt and sugar content of many recipes.

You should also pay attention to your portion size no matter where you eat.  Download our handy guide for estimating serving sizes to evaluate the amount of food you eat at every meal.

Looking for other healthy changes you can make to improve your health? Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website?  It’s a great source of easy tips for healthy eating, exercise and diet support.  You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Weight Management for Older Adults

scaleAre you concerned about an older family member’s weight? If your parents or senior loved ones are slightly heavier than you think they should be there, there are a few special considerations to take into account.  Weight management for older adults involves more than just going on a diet.

Should Older Adults Lose Weight?

A new research study raises questions about whether or not weight loss is necessary for some older adults.  Scientists at Ohio State University found that people who were slightly overweight in their 50s but kept their weight steady were  more likely to live longer.  In contrast, those who started out as very obese in their 50s and who continued to gain weight had shorter life expectancies.

So does that mean you should maintain your weight if you are heavy?  Not necessarily.  If you are already overweight, getting heavier is probably not a good idea.  But whether or not you should lose weight is a conversation you should have with your doctor.

Your primary care provider can tell you how your weight affects your risk factors for different medical conditions based on your own health history and your family background. Your doctor can also tell you how losing weight may improve your health.

Healthy Weight Loss for Seniors

In a recent interview with Dr. Mike Moreno, M.D, the best-selling book author explained that a healthy diet for seniors should consist of smaller more frequent meals. “It’s typical for older adults to have less of an appetite as they age,” says Moreno. “This often occurs, because people become more sedentary and it becomes harder to stimulate hunger.”

A registered dietitian can help you or your family member put together a personalized plan for weight loss or weight maintenance.  To get a referral, talk to your family physician and then connect with North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss online, on Facebook and Twitter.