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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Eating Out is Risky Business For Weight Watch

LAS CRUCES - Despite an abundance of healthy eating advice and diet foods on the market, Americans are still gaining weight, said a food and nutrition specialist with New Mexico State University.

"One of the reasons is that people eat out more than they used to," said Martha Archuleta with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "When people eat out they tend to eat more than they would at home."

Portion sizes in restaurants have increased in the last 10 to 15 years, she said. Each platter of food can contain 1,500 calories. "If you eat like that, even a few days a week, you can really start to put on the pounds," she said.

To cut down on calories, Archuleta suggested restaurant customers limit what they eat before the entree, such as chips and salsa; order grilled, steamed or stir-fried foods; and drink plenty of water or low-calorie beverages to decrease their appetites. They also can split a meal with someone, saving money and calories.

Archuleta said consumers also can order from the a la cart part of the menu for smaller portions.

"Another idea is to decide beforehand that you're only going to eat half of the entree and then make use of a doggie bag," she said.

If the food is taken home, it is important to follow food safety rules. Food should be refrigerated within two hours, she said.