How to Navigate the Mall Food Court Healthy-Style

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Female Friends Having Lunch Together At The Mall

You’re making your way around the mall, proud of yourself for remembering to wear walking shoes so you can pick up the pace between stores and burn a few extras calories. But en route to buy some not-so-sensible heels for an upcoming party, a scent of cinnamon fills the air and you know those super-sized iced buns are a whiff’s distance away. Tempting. But if you indulge in one of those Cinnabon rolls, you will consume 880 calories, 37 grams of fat and the equivalent of 14 ½ teaspoons of sugar.* That’s bananas. If you’re going to stop for a snack, consider frozen yogurt or find a pretzel stand and get the smallest, plainest option. Or better yet, take your now grumbling belly to the food court, where you can find healthier and more satisfying options with these tips:

At the salad bar: Be picky.

It’s a virtuous choice, but be sure to keep it that way by topping your greens with colorful veggies, like tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and peppers; chickpeas or grilled chicken for some protein; and a little oil and vinegar, or a low-fat or fat-free version of your favorite dressing, if available. Skip the calorie-heavy shredded or crumbled cheese, bacon bits and croutons.

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At the sandwich shop: Choose lean meats.

Sliced turkey or chicken is better than salami or bologna. And get it on regular slices of whole-grain bread, not foot-long heroes. Pile on the veggies, like lettuce, tomato, onions and cucumbers, and opt for mustard or oil and vinegar instead of mayonnaise.

At the Mexican spot: Go easy on the extras.

Hold the sour cream, skip the refried beans, and leave off the cheese. Guacamole and salsa are healthier toppers, in proper portions: ask for each on the side and only use about 2 Tablespoons (about the size of a golf ball). If you’re in a taco mood, choose chicken on a soft shell instead of beef in a hard shell; if you’re opting for the salad, get it without the fried tortilla shell. And just say no to nachos and cheese.

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At the pizza place:

Get thin crust, not thick and top your slice with veggies, not pepperoni or sausage.

At the Asian eateries: Opt for sautéed, steamed or stir-fried entrées.

Shrimp, chicken or vegetable are all good choices, paired brown rice instead of white. Pass on the egg rolls. Sushi, however, if offered, is a healthy option—just skip the spicy or tempura-based rolls.

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At the fast-food counter: Swap out the fries.

Ask for a side salad or baked potato instead (topped with broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese, or salsa). Choose the smallest hamburger on the menu, and have it loaded with extra pickles or tomatoes.

And everywhere: get water to drink.

Or unsweetened iced tea is fine. But no sugar-laden soda, sweet tea or lemonade.

Check out this handy guide to better understand what you should order and avoid while visiting the mall food court:

Mall food courts eating out guide

*Nutritional information taken from on 4/11/2016.