Support small businesses and your immunity

Eliana Lakritz MS RD LDN, Clinical Dietitian, Baystate Noble Hospital (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

By Eliana Lakritz, MS, RD, CSG, LDN

During this trying time, one of the best ways we can support immune function is by taking care of our physical health. While nutrition cannot prevent COVID-19 exposure or infection, making sure you are eating a variety & adequate amounts of healthy food can help to maximize your immune function. Take-out can be a convenient alternative to home cooked meals and are a great way to support local businesses that need our support year round, but especially during this pandemic. Making healthful choices from a menu can be challenging, especially since nutrition facts are not always available to the public. Below are a few tips on making healthy choices from a menu.

· Choose a balanced meal: A meal containing only one macronutrient, such as carbohydrates (think a large bowl of spaghetti with red sauce) OR vegetables (think a garden salad without protein or carbohydrates), is not a balanced one. Make sure you’re choosing menu items that contain grains, protein and either a fruit or vegetable. This could be a grilled chicken sandwich with a green salad OR baked salmon with brown rice and green beans.

· Look for terms that describe preparation: Certain terms on a menu provide hints on how a meal is cooked. For example, “crispy,” “fried,” “breaded” and “creamy” suggest that a meal is high in fat and calories, which are often less healthful. Other terms such as “baked,” “grilled,” “roasted,” and “steamed” are typically leaner and describe a cooking technique that requires less of a fat source.

· Choose Healthy Sides: Skip the chips or other fried sides and ask you can replace it with a green salad, steamed vegetable, or fruit cup—something with more nutritional value.

· Provide Hydration: Instead of opting for a nutritionally empty soda, lemonade or sweet tea, ask for water, low-fat milk, or unsweetened tea. These choices provide more nutritional value, fewer calories and help keep you hydrated.

· Consider micronutrients: Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Think about the choices you are making and consider what they actually provide your body with. Real life example: which provides more nutritional value- a bagel with cream cheese OR scrambled eggs, a fruit cup and whole wheat toast? The answer is the egg meal! The egg meal provides your body with protein, fiber, and vitamins you wouldn’t get from the bagel and spread.

Below are a few examples of more healthful & LOCAL menu items (not an all-inclusive list):

· Shortstop Bar and Grill’s Power Salad (with or without salmon, grilled chicken, or grilled shrimp) OR the grilled chicken sandwich with a side salad

· Skyline Beer Company’s roasted cauliflower (add blackened chicken/beans, veggies) or chicken garden salad with the herb vinaigrette

· Janna Mediterranean Grill’s Chicken Tawouk kabob’s with rice and vegetable for sides

· Hash House’s veggie omelet with wheat toast

· Soups On’s You Pick Two ½ pesto chicken panini and ½ chef salad/broth-based soup

· Alo Saigon’s steamed vermicelli with chicken with fresh summer rolls OR seafood with vegetable medley

· Fresh Fields Garden Café: the Veggie Betty Lite wrap OR Mardi Gras Lite wrap

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