Mall food courts are notorious for being fast food hubs which usually means lots of highly processed foods. But all is not lost. There are ways to find healthier options or minimize the nutritional overload. Here are some tips.
- Look for vegetables. In every Mall food court, there is always at least one Asian place like a Panda Express or Thai Now. The Asian places always have multiple dishes with vegetables in it like my meal above which is Thai food - broccoli beef with sriracha sauce, and eggplant with tofu over steamed rice.
- When ordering Asian food, get steamed rice over fried rice or noodles. Get a meat entree that is not breaded and fried like grilled Black Bean chicken with green beans versus Honey Lemon Chicken.
- For sandwiches, nix the mayo or any mayo-based spreads, and stick with mustard or vinaigrette as your spread. Eat your sandwich open-faced so that you are essentially only eating half the bun. Instead of cheese, get guacamole or avocado slices.
- Meal deals always sound great because you usually get three things for cheap like burger, fries and fountain drink, or taco, burrito, and fountain drink. The overall meal deal may be financially cheap, but it's nutritionally expensive denting your calories, fat, sodium, and sugar intake for the day.
Nix the meal deal and order two things a la carte. Thing one will be either a burger or a burrito, and thing two will be unsweetened iced tea or a bottle of water. Lemonade or juice is not necessarily healthier than soda because it has as much as and sometimes even more sugar than soda.
- Order small sizes of everything. Smaller portions mean you get to enjoy without overloading. Again, it's very tempting to buy the bigger sizes because the chains do that on purpose. They tempt you to buy the next bigger size for just 5o cents more, and it always seems like an easy sale at the time. Resist and stick with the smallest portion size available.
- Get your food in a to-go container. It's easy to overeat because you don't like to throw away food. I'm the same way. I don't like to waste. To solve that problem, get your food in a to-go container so that you can eat to satisfy your hunger and then take the rest home to eat later.
- If you are at the mall with a friend, order one meal that the two of you can split. Most food court portion sizes are big enough for 2-3 people. By splitting the meal, you save on both nutritional factors and cost.
What are some other ways you eat healthier at the mall?