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15 Ways to Eat Healthier at Restaurants, According to the New York Times

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McDonald's can still be part of a healthy diet.

Beet and kale salad from Sweetgreen.
Beet and kale salad from Sweetgreen.
Sweetgreen/Facebook

Restaurant meals are often high in calories and oversized. Americas are now spending more money in restaurants than they do on groceries, so dining out can have a significant affect on a diner's health. However, according to a recent New York Times report, it is very possible "to eat both healthy and tasty restaurant meals."

The paper put together a detailed guide dealing with just that. It focuses on the ways diners can enjoy a number of restaurants and eat meals that are 750 calories or less, in lieu of the 2,000 calorie gut bombs many places are known for. Here are the NYT's 15 best tips for eating healthy at restaurants below:

1) Frequent growing chains like Lyfe Kitchen, Maoz Vegetarian, Modmarket, and Sweetgreen. They all are built around offering nutritious meals that have a "reasonable number of calories."

2) If you're craving a sandwich, seek out a Pret A Manger. The chain is good at portion control and makes their sandwiches daily. They are also socially conscious and give unsold food to charity at the end of each day.

3) Don't eat the entire portion of food in front of you. Over the years, portions sizes have grown rapidly. Pizza, for example, was typically 10 inches in diameter in the 1970s, which is smaller than many pies today.

4) Split entrees and don't be afraid to throw out extra food. After all, "Eating food you don't need is a version of waste."

5) Eat an appetizer as an entree. Due to "portion inflation" over the years, appetizers are now as large as entrees used to be.

6) Avoid beverages that are high in calories. Stick to water and club soda, and make sure juice portions are 6 ounces or less.

7) Avoid creamy sauces; instead seek out "flavor bombs" like mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, and foods high in umami like parmesan, soy, and seaweed.

8) Seek out protein-filled breakfast options made with eggs. Starbucks' oatmeal is a good option too.

9) Plants should make up the majority of your meal. Fruits and vegetables are filling, they have fiber, and you can eat more of them.

10) Beware of bread. When eating a bread basket, "make a conscious choice about how much of it you'll eat — and consider asking the server to take the rest away."

11) Avoid bagels, which are "extravaganzas of dough." Often they have 500 calories before you add cream cheese.

12) Order a vegetarian meal every once in a while. "Replacing meat with vegetarian entrees allows you to eat bigger portions with fewer calories and add nutrients and variety."

13) When eating meat, opt for a leaner cut like filet mignon.

14) You don't have to avoid Cheesecake Factory. The chain has a 50-option "SkinnyLicious" menu that offers meals under 590 calories.

15) If ordering a classic fast food meal like a burger, don't order fries, a soda, and a dessert. Pick one of the sides, and replace the others with healthier options like water or salad.

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