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5 Tips to Dining with Your Heart in Mind

Written by Michael Blake, Dietetic Intern - NDSU Extension Service

Another year has gone by and we find ourselves in February again. February is the month of love, a month that usually involves a special individual and a special day. Try focusing on the health of your heart, too. Heart health is an important factor to life expectancy and all-around health. This article will serve as a guide to going out to eat (eating out of home) and how to dine with your heart in mind.

We all grab food on the go at sit down, quick service, or fast food restaurants. However do we really know how healthful the menu options are?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends consuming at least three meals per day or consuming approximately one third of your calories at each meal. The most common entrees can reach over 50 percent of your daily calories in just one meal and no that does not include the appetizer, drink, or dessert.


Try these tips to eat more healthfully outside of your home:

1.  Pick a restaurant and look up the menu ahead of time. See if you can find the nutritional facts online, and look for lower calorie, sodium and fat options.

2. Look for healthier preparation methods, instead of choosing fried, cured, or fatty meat options.

  • Choose: grilled, baked, lean meat and low-sodium options.
  • Try a sirloin or chicken breast instead of a ribeye.

3. Try splitting meals.

  • This approach allows you to have a three- or four-course meal with adequate portions.

4. Instead of finishing an entire entree ask for half of it to be boxed up to take home at the beginning of the meal

  • This saves money and avoids excessive eating

5. Order your salad dressings, sauces, and condiments on the side

  • This allows you to use smaller amounts.

The best part about these tips is that you can incorporate them year-round. After all, we care for our loved ones 365 days a year. So the next time you are out with that special individual, dine with your heart in mind.


References and resources:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

American Heart Association:

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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