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Know Your Menu Watch Words

Throw the Flag at Unhealthy Cooking

-- By Zach Van Hart, Staff Writer

They are small words. They can be easy to miss. They slip off your tongue as you order your food, without even knowing what you are saying. Yet they mean the difference between a healthy or unhealthy meal. What are these unassuming potential land mines? "Menu Watch Words" -- and it pays to keep your eye on them.

Going out to eat is a lot of fun. You’re having a good time and you might not always think about what’s best for you. You can avoid the next morning "why did I eat that" hangover by planting a few gentle reminders, well-placed whispers in your ear.

Did you know that consultants travel the country helping restaurants say just the right things on their food menus? Unless you ask the server about the preparation of each item, it’s hard to know for sure what’s really healthy and unhealthy. For example, the word "breaded" can add five times as much fat to your meal as the word "grilled." You can fight back by translating the consultants’ wordcrafting into something useful.

Not all "Menu Watch Words" are bad. When you go out to eat, just go prepared. Know which words to look for and which to avoid. Below is a quick hit list of Green Flag "Safe" and Red Flag "Warning!" food options. <pagebreak>

The watch words below are a guide. Still, food items can be very healthy or unhealthy regardless of the use of any of these words. For example, "fat free" food is often packed with sugar and calories to get it to taste better. There are times when these words are used to mislead you (which is why we call them "watch words" and not guarantees). So use this along with your good judgment to steer clear of the bad stuff. More often than not, you’ll end up making a smart decision.

Good luck and keep your eyes open.

          GREEN FLAG
(Potentially Good for You)
Baked
Boiled
Broiled
Fat free
Fresh
Grilled
High Fiber
Light
Marinated
Multi-grain
Poached
Red sauce
Reduced
Roasted
Seasoned
Steamed
Stir-Fried
Vegetarian
Vinaigrette
Whole Wheat

 
            RED FLAG
(Probably Bad for You)
Au gratin
Basted
Battered
Bearnaise (or hollandaise)
"Bet you can't finish it"
Bottomless
Breaded
Buttery / Buttered
Casserole
Cheesy
Country-style
Covered
Creamed / Creamy
Crispy
Crunchy
Escalloped
Fried / Deep fried
Giant
Loaded
Platter
Smothered
Stewed
Stroganoff
Stuffed
Value
Volcano
White Sauce

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