Eating healthy at the food court

To keep both your wallet and your waistline happy this holiday season, don't shop on an empty stomach. Research shows you buy more and spend more when you're hungry. And although food courts can be nutritional landmines, Consumer Reports can show you some better alternatives to some not-so-healthy choices, just in case hunger hits when you're at the mall.

Start, with portion control. At Five Guys, the 'Little' hamburger and 'little' cheeseburger are still satisfying -- and you'll save between 200 and 300 calories, compared to the regular size, but forgo the fries. Each regular sized order has almost a thousand calories, 41 grams of fat and almost a thousand milligrams of sodium, before the ketchup!

At Subway, one of the leanest cold cuts is actually roast beef. Another good option is the Rotisserie-style chicken. It's a little higher in fat and calories than a carved turkey sandwich -- but far lower in sodium. And pile on the veggies for flavor. Where you really want to be careful, is with condiments. Even small amounts of some sandwich spreads and salad dressings can pack a lot of fat, calories and sodium.

A Chicken Caesar Asiago Salad from Au Bon Pain becomes a better choice, by selecting balsamic vinaigrette instead of caesar dressing, which saves 140 calories and 16 grams of fat.

And order your Auntie Anne's pretzels without butter or salt -- which cuts calories, fat and sodium.

You don't have to deprive yourself, you just need to make smart choices. Small swaps can sometimes make a big difference.

Consumer Reports also suggests being mindful of ordering dishes in sauces. For example, at some Asian restaurants like Panda Express, some of the dishes in sweet and tangy sauces can contain unexpected amounts of sodium and hidden sugars.
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