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Dining Out On A Diet

February 17, 2012, 6:09 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Dining Out On A Diet
SIOUX FALLS, SD - According to a USDA study, one-third of the calories Americans now eat come from restaurants.

While it can be more difficult to eat healthy while eating out, it is possible.

Casey Murschel enjoys catching up with friends at Bagel Boy every Friday.

"You have to have a bagel sandwich every once in a while," Murschel said.

But Murschel dines out more than once a week. The average American eats four to five restaurant meals a week.

"With so many families having two people working, sometimes time is at a premium. And if you don't want it all to be task-oriented, you want to have some conversation time, sometimes eating out is the way to do that," Murschel said.

"We do know that when you eat at home, it's a little easier to control your calories and your food intake. And you tend to eat less overall and fewer calories," Avera Heart Hospital Dietitian Joanne Shearer said.

Shearer says the best way to watch your waistline is to head to the web. Many restaurants now post their nutritional information online and that information may surprise you with some salads containing more calories than burgers.

"My recommendation is to try to build a meal that is around 500 calories, and try to keep it around there. And if you do that, you'll probably be able to keep your whole daily calorie intake controlled," Shearer said.

But if you don't have time to check out the nutrition information online ahead of time, you can follow a few guidelines.

"Pretty safe choices when you're going to a restaurant is to order the burgers plain, without all the sauces on top. And when you order a side salad, make sure you get the dressing on the side," Shearer said.

While you can find healthy choices at many restaurants, some Americans still aren't too concerned.

"To me, it's really about flavor," Murschel said.

Making smart restaurant choices is the focus of Mission Nutrition this week, a healthy-eating competition set up by Avera Heart Hospital. The final part of the competition takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Empire Mall near Younkers.

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