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Almost everyone likes to go out to eat. Restaurants are great settings for socializing with friends or celebrating a big family event. And let’s not forget one of the best benefits of eating out–you don’t have to cook!

However, eating healthy while you’re away from home can be difficult and may require you to make some smart choices. Restaurants often give you larger portions than meals you might cook at home, which can make it easy for you to consume too many calories and overdo your intake of saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The next time you go to a restaurant, consider these tips from ChooseMyPlate.gov to help you make healthier food choices:

Consider your drink. Choose water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and other drinks without added sugars to complement your meal.

Savor a salad. Start your meal with a salad packed with vegetables to help you feel satisfied sooner. Ask for dressing on the side, and use a small amount of it.

Share a main dish. Divide a main entree between family and friends. Ask for small plates for everyone at the table.

Select from the sides. Order a side dish or an appetizer-sized portion instead of a regular entree. They’re usually served on smaller plates and in smaller amounts.

Fill your plate with vegetables and fruit. Stir-fries, kabobs or vegetarian menu items usually have more vegetables. Select fruits as a side dish or dessert.

Compare the calories, fat and sodium. Many menus now include nutrition information. Look for items that are lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium. Check with your server if you don’t see the nutrition information on the menu.

Pass on the buffet. Have an item from the menu and avoid the all-you-can-eat buffet. Steamed, grilled or broiled dishes have fewer calories than foods that are fried in oil or cooked in butter.

Get your whole grains. Request 100 percent whole-wheat breads, rolls and pasta when choosing sandwiches, burgers or main dishes.

Quit the “clean your plate” club. Decide to save some leftovers for another meal. Take the leftovers home in a container, and chill them in the refrigerator right away.

For more healthy eating tips, check out ChooseMyPlate.gov.

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