So you've decided to eat healthier this year. But let's face it, you're a busy person and you eat out often because you don't have lots of time to spend in the kitchen. Before your next restaurant meal, test your eat-out IQ with the 10 true-or-false questions below.
1. If you're trying to eat healthy, you have to stop going to restaurants.
False. The more often people eat out, the more body fat they are likely to have, according to the Weight-Control Information Network, a service of the National Institutes of Health. But it's all about making the right choices. Substituting grilled foods for fried, lean meats for fatty cuts and vegetables for high-starch sides are some of the ways to make eating out a healthier experience.
2. You can reduce your dinner portion by putting half of your meal into a to-go box before you start eating.
True. Saving part of a large meal can help you control the temptation to overeat.
3. It's OK to eat all the bread you can -- as long as it's whole wheat.
False. Whole wheat bread has more fiber than white bread, but you still need to watch how many calories you're taking in. One half-inch thick slice of whole wheat bread can have up to 100 calories.
4. The calorie and fat content of the lasagna you ordered is exactly the same as in the one you make at home.
False. The restaurant's recipe might include more cheese, sauce and other ingredients than yours. Dietitians recommend avoiding foods that have many items blended in, since you can't tell exactly what or how much of each item is in it.
5. You should never order dessert.
False. Go ahead, eat cake -- just not a giant hunk. The USDA recommends only 195 "extra" fat and sugar calories a day for a 30-year-old female who exercises for less than 30 minutes daily, and 360 extra for a 30-year-old male with a similar activity level. For a USDA food guide based on your age, gender and activity level, visit www.mypyramid.com and click on "My Pyramid Plan."
6. It's better to order water than that large soft drink.
True. Sweetened drinks add unnecessary calories. With sweetened drinks, you can quickly use up your daily calorie allowance without getting the right amount of food from all food groups.
7. Having soup or salad before your main meal can only make you eat more overall.
False. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register that your stomach is full. Eating a soup or salad before your main meal can send the message on its way early. Soup (not creamed) and salad without fatty toppings can also fill you up and make you eat less overall.
8. Eating buffet-style can thwart your best intentions.
True. Buffets tempt even the best of us to get the most for our money. But most isn't always best -- in this case it means more calories than you need.
9. If you have a big dinner date coming up, it's a good idea to eat nothing during the day so you can have all your day's worth of calories at dinner.
False. Starving yourself slows your metabolism and defeats the purpose of weight-loss goals. Your body reacts to food deprivation by hoarding fat. You also risk falling short of the daily quota of nutrients that come from non-dinner foods.
10. You can never eat too much when eating at a salad bar.
False. Fruit and vegetables are good for you, and even high volumes of vegetables are low in calories. But watch your toppings. Don't pile on gobs of salad dressing, oil, croutons or other fatty or high-calorie add-ons.