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Anna Love: Look for healthier options at Denton dining spots

You can dine healthy anywhere with just a few strategies. Try these five tips when you eat out for the next month and see if you don’t have looser-fitting clothes and less heartburn.

1. Cut your meals in half. Split your meal with a friend. Or take half home, so you have lunch for the next day. Two meals for the price of one! Savings: 300-700 calories.

2. Substitute steamed vegetables for french fries — except maybe once every two to four weeks as a planned treat. Do plan in occasional treats, or you will become preoccupied by the food you are trying to avoid. Savings: 100-150 calories.

3. Add a small salad with low-fat dressing on the side before your meal rather than a fat-laden appetizer, but watch out for high-calorie salad toppings. Savings: 500-1,000 calories.

4. Drink beverages with no calories. Chew your calories rather than drink them. Would you rather drink a soda or eat a half sandwich? You decide. Savings: 100-300 calories.

5. Share your dessert with a friend and plan it in only once every two to four weeks. Save this treat for special occasions rather than making a habit of eating desserts after every meal. Find non-food ways to reward yourself. Too often we pack on 300 to 400 calories without thinking. An extra 500 calories a day adds on a pound a week (3,500 calories = 1 pound). Savings: 300-1,600 calories.

Sodium is very difficult to limit while eating out, but take the initiative to know before you go. Look up the healthiest options for your five most frequented restaurants before you go — planning ahead prevents poor decisions.

These are just a few steps in the right direction to meet your health goals, feel and look better, have more energy, and keep blood lab values in check.

On behalf of the Denton County Healthy Communities Coalition, it is my pleasure to announce the launch of the city of Denton’s new Heart-Healthy Dining Guide at The site includes links to nutrition facts for restaurants, as well as a survey to assist the coalition in making it better. Be sure to check out other local resources on the website.

Congratulations to the Heart-Healthy Dining Guide award winners. Silver award winners met 80 percent of the criteria: Chili’s, the Cupboard Cafe, Golden Corral, McAlister’s Deli, Olive Garden and Panera Bread. Bronze winners met 70 percent of the criteria: Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, the Greenhouse and Weinberger’s Deli.

ANNA LOVE is a dietitian, health coach, and founder of Love to Live Well. She is also a master wellness volunteer with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.