TUESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- While the holidays tend to translate into restaurant meals that are bigger and higher in calories than those prepared at home, eating out doesn't have to be unhealthy, an expert says.
Making wise choices at restaurants can prevent Americans from consuming hundreds of extra calories.
"The average American consumes close to 50 percent of his or her meals outside of the home and fast-food restaurants are abundant," said Dr. Jessica Bartfield, an internist who specializes in nutrition and weight management at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, in a Loyola University Health System news release."By following a few rules, you can keep any fast food meal in calorie check."
When choosing a restaurant, Bartfield recommends sandwich shops that offer vegetable toppings, which can add vitamins and nutrients to a quick meal. "I am also a fan of fast-food places that offer soup or even chili as soup can be a terrific option, particularly ones loaded with veggies, lean meats and beans," she said. "Be careful to avoid the cream- or cheese-based soups and beware the bread bowl, which can increase the calories by up to 1,000."
Bartfield offered these fast-food menu tips to help Americans stay healthy:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on nutrition.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, news release, December 2011
All rights reserved