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Food Court Follies: Surviving a Trip to the Mall

Food Court Follies:
Surviving a Trip to the Mall



Does it matter what time of day I go to the mall?
Is it OK to bring snacks to the mall?
What are some tips for healthy eating at the mall?
What are the junk food landmines to avoid?
How can I avoid the food court?
Tips to survive a snack attack at the mall


French fries, pizza, nachos dripping with cheese . . . Sound familiar? With all your favorite treats in one place, it can be hard to make healthy food choices in the food court. But there are ways to avoid those junk food landmines at the mall. back to top

Does it matter what time of day I go to the mall?
Timing is everything. If you make trips to the mall when you are hungry, you're almost guaranteed to end up eating junk food. To avoid overeating at the mall, go shopping after you eat a meal. And, if you think you might get hungry or your friends are planning to eat in the food court, bring a healthy snack along. Carry some fruit to nibble and share with the gang (like grapes or cherries) in your backpack. A small piece of chocolate can be a sweet treat! back to top

Is it OK to bring snacks to the mall?
There's no rule that says you have to buy your snacks at the mall. Feel free to bring your own! For something to munch on, pack a bag of baby carrots or a box of raisins. A little homemade trail mix and a cup of low-fat yogurt can keep you energized for hours. Keep in mind that the air inside malls tends to be dry and can make your throat feel parched. A bottle of water or juice from your local grocery store probably costs less than the same product at the mall. And 100% fruit juice is a healthy alternative to soda and milkshakes. back to top

What are some tips for healthy eating at the mall?
Not all fast foods are junk food landmines. If you want to have a meal at the mall, here are some tips for making healthier choices:
  • Look for wraps made with lean meats, hummus, tuna, or veggies. If you want tuna salad, ask to see it first so you can make sure it's not loaded with high-fat mayo.
  • Choose pizza piled high with your favorite veggies (skip the extra cheese).
  • Warm up with chili—it usually has less fat (and more flavor!) than hamburgers. Plus the beans add fiber and protein to your meal.
  • Check out grilled, broiled, or baked chicken or fish sandwiches. Pass on any fried foods.
  • Graze at the salad bar, but be sure you choose a low-fat dressing or splash on a little oil and some tangy vinegar. back to top
What are the junk food landmines to avoid?
Steer clear of burgers and sandwiches with "special sauce" (code for loaded with extra fat). Fried foods like French fries, fried chicken, egg rolls, enchiladas, chimichangas, and crispy tacos or taco salads can eat up all the calories you need for the day in one meal! If these foods call your name, you may want to avoid the food court altogether. back to top

How can I avoid the food court?
If you're planning to hook up with friends, plan to meet at a clothing store you all love. Bookstores and video or music stores make fun meeting places as well. If you want to avoid eating a banana split or other killer desserts, stay out of the food court. That way, you won't be tempted by the sight (and smell) of those giant chocolate chip cookies. back to top

Tips to survive a snack attack at the mall
Most malls offer some of the following healthy snacks:
  • fruit smoothies (without ice cream or milk)
  • frozen yogurt
  • pretzels
  • air-popped popcorn (without butter)
Try to avoid snack choices that offer little or no nutrients you can use. These snacks serve up empty calories:
  • fried dough
  • candy
  • cotton candy
  • ice cream with candy mixed in or with toppings back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/30/2001
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