What to Eat at the Food Court

When your hunger bell rings in the halls of the mall, the food court is ready with all kinds of tempting morsels. Unfortunately, the less-healthful picks usually outweigh the nutritious choices. At most malls, you're faced with menus that boast burgers, fries, pizza, subs, sweet rolls, and pretzels. When you're attempting to eat healthfully, what should you order?

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Finding Healthful Options

"Mall food courts can be danger zones that serve up plenty of deep-fried or cheese-topped offerings," says Anne Daly, M.S., R.D., CDE, BC-ADM, director of the Springfield Diabetes and Endocrine Center in Illinois. "A key to success is having a plan of attack for finding healthful options." With a handful of strategies, you can put together nutritious meals to match your diabetes eating goals, as well as fuel your power shopping.

Healthful Menu Options

For lunch or dinner, opt for the following and you'll be striking a good nutrition bargain:

  • Main-dish salad with a low-calorie dressing on the side. Then go light on the dressing.

  • Pizza loaded with veggies rather than high-fat meats and cheeses. Limit yourself to one large or two small slices. And thin crust keeps the carbs down.

  • 6-inch sub with turkey, lean ham, or roast beef on whole grain bread. Pile on the vegetables -- lettuce, tomatoes, peppers (green and hot), and onions -- and other low-fat toppers. Request mustard and vinegar, but skip the oil and mayonnaise.

  • Grilled chicken sandwich with a garden salad or baked chips.

  • Roasted chicken quarter with two steamed-vegetable side dishes.

  • Vegetable plate or stir-fry with brown or white rice.

  • Baked potato stuffed with broccoli or chili and a little cheese sauce.

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