Friday, May 04, 2007

Stranded at the Drive-Thru

It happens. Sometimes we find ourselves there whether we like it or not. But you can still make wise choices. Many places offer a nice grilled chicken sandwich. Skip the mayo and lay off the fries. At home, have a juicy apple or pear to finish your meal. A great choice on the run is Subway. Get a six-inch whole wheat roll, choose provolone instead of American (or omit cheese altogether) and load it with veggies. Go for mustard, but pass on oil and mayo. If you get a meal, count out a handful of chips and give the rest to someone else. Pizza? Not many healthy options, so try to minimize the damage by going to a place where you can buy by the slice. Take the time to blot the excess grease off the top with a napkin. Hit the salad bar if they have one—but skip the high-fat dressings. Drink a lot of water.

Most restaurant portions are two to three servings. Fill up on a salad or clear soup before your main course arrives, and then cut your meal in half and push it to the side. Ask for a box. That’s what you’re taking home. Don’t feel the need to clean your plate. Mom’s not there to lay a guilt trip on you about starving kids in China and tell you to clean your plate. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I deserve this treat, so I’ll order the biggest steak and the gooiest, most decadent dessert.” But it’s quality, not quantity, that matters. Have your steak, just don’t have it all at once.

At home, chop up that leftover steak and serve it over a salad or in a whole wheat tortilla for lunch the next day. You won’t have that “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” feeling or have to plan lunch the next day.

Finally, keep a protein bar, a piece of fruit and a water bottle handy for each family member so you don’t have to make those drive-thru stops in the first place. Our kids love getting their little "kit" together for a road trip. We use inexpensive plastic sports bottles that have a removeable core that can go in the freezer to keep beverages cold. Check your local drug store for these, especially as warmer weather approaches. Depending on how long we'll be gone, they might grab a Tiger Milk bar or a Z Bar, or some homemade snack mix with high fiber cereal, dried cranberries, and almonds, all neatly packed in a zipper bag or a small plastic container. It can be risky to eat in the car, so be aware while you are driving, particularly if you have young children who may choke.

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