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Away From Home: Eat Smart While Shopping

Author: Hope Warshaw, M.S., R.D., CDE, BC-ADM
Source: Diabetic Living, Winter 2006

Keep these suggestions in mind the next time you head for the mall:

1. Don’t let yourself get too hungry, which can lead to over ordering and overeating.

2. Pick your restaurant and determine your order before the sights and smells influence you. “The odds are that you know the restaurants and menu items already,” says Anne Daly, director of the Springfield Diabetes and Endocrine Center in Illinois. “Have an order at the tip of your tongue and don’t hesitate.”

3. Steer clear of food courts altogether. “If I’m shopping for hours, I bring along healthful snacks or enjoy a balanced meal at a sit-down restaurant,” says Jean Ortman, one of Daly’s clients who is aiming to prevent type 2 diabetes. “If it’s a short excursion, I eat before I leave home.”

4. Enjoy a salad or broth- or bean-base soup as a starter so you’ll feel full and eat less overall.

5. Order a couple of small items to share. You can eat small amounts from two or three vendors and enjoy a medley of tastes without overindulging.

6. Take advantage of a la carte ordering – try an appetizer, a side item, a bowl of soup, or a piece of fruit.

7. Look for smaller portions. Panda Express offers two-item versus three-item entree plates. Order pizza by the slice or half of a sandwich. Ask for child-size portions, whether it’s a main course or a frozen dessert.

8. Don’t spend your calories on sugar in beverages unless those calories offer nutrition, such as fat-free milk or 100 percent juice. Or opt for water, sparkling water, or unsweetened iced tea.

9. Bring along thirst-quenching, low-calorie fluids to save on pocket change, quell hunger and stay hydrated. “I never leave home without my water bottle,” Jean says.

10. Spend some extra steps. Walk as much as you can while shopping to burn those extra calories.