Best food choices from restaurants and markets


The increase in consumption of whole grains and beans is primarily the result of everyone eating just a little bit better. Having healthy options available at venues that are more traditionally expected to offer only unhealthy choices allows consumers to make better choices.

The era of two working parents is not going away anytime soon. While some families can enjoy a parent staying home and preparing a home-cooked meal, more and more often, Mom or Dad is swinging by for takeout on the way home after a long day at work. These great new options allow for quick healthy foods without the shame. Families shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health for convenience.

Are these new chains perfect? Probably not. There’s probably still too much reliance on salt and fat and sugar for enhancing flavor, and the quality can be inconsistent between locations.

When someone else prepares your food, you’re never absolutely sure if they did it as you would have. However, the average American spends $232 per month eating meals prepared outside the home. 18.2 meals are eaten outside the home in an average month by the average American. With so much of our food being prepared by others, I’m thankful that there are more and more healthy choices for us to make when we opt to eat away from home for families just like mine.

Where can you eat fast food and still have some healthy choices? In addition to your health food store, try these drive-throughs:

KFC – cole slaw and green beans

Burger King – veggie burger, hold the mayo and the side of fries

Wendy’s – baked potato loaded with chives and side salad

White Castle – veggie burger

Pizza Hut – spaghetti with marinara

Indian – garbanzo bean dishes

Asian – Szechuan vegetables with or without tofu over rice

Mexican – rice and beans with salsa and tortilla for tacos at table

Sushi – edamame and veggie rolls

Thai – noodles and vegetables, spring rolls and soups

Steakhouse – baked potato with chives and a side of mushrooms drizzled with steak sauce, side of veggies





Farmer’s markets offer the simplest way to shorten the distance between you and your food.

When food typically travels 1,500 miles from farm to table, consuming massive quantities of fuel and generating greenhouse gasses, shopping at the farmer’s market saves oil, keeps money in your local economy, and keeps green space around your community. Here are the top ten tips for how to get the most out of your farmer’s market visits.

  1. Be Prepared. Have your reusable bags and your money in cash, preferably in smaller bills.
  2. Talk to Strangers. People have ten times more conversations at the market than at the grocery store. The market is becoming the new town square.
  3. Sample the Goods. Most farmers encourage you to taste before you buy. It’s fun to determine who has the tastiest corn, or the juiciest peaches.
  4. Bring the Kids. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables if they pick them out. They develop a sense of where their food comes from and meet the people who grew it. With a little of their own cash, they can spend and budget for their favorites.
  5. Bring Grandma. You’ll connect with older people like never before. They grew up in a time when eating seasonally was normal and produce wasn’t shipped long distances in plastic containers. They know many great recipes using local produce.
  6. 5.Think Beyond Organic. While organic growing techniques are often practiced by small farms, the farms don’t get certified organic because the process can be burdensome and expensive. If you’re not sure how the farmer grew the food, just ask.
  7. Put some away. The time to think about eating locally in January is in August. Buy extra and freeze a little each week. It’s so gratifying to open your chest freezer and see rows of delicious local foods waiting for you. All the veggies are great for lunch and dinner, and the fruit is terrific in smoothies. Bring a cookie sheet to carry home several containers or berries for freezing at one time without hassle or mess.
  8. Be a Composter. Composting reduces a typical household’s waste headed to the landfill by 50%. It reduces the need for water, fertilizer, and pesticides in your own garden and is remarkably easy to do.
  9. Be Mindful of the Prices. Some things can be more expensive at the market, but there are good bargains there too. Take a quick peek at all the stalls before making your selections. Only 19% of your food dollar goes to the farmer when you purchase from the grocery. You are securing and stabilizing a neighbor’s livelihood by handing your dollars directly to the farmer, and protecting the green space around your community. Way to go! Revolutionary!
  10. Lose the list. Markets are full of healthful, delicious food that’s sometimes too fragile to ship. You’re likely to discover new fruits and veggies, and the new recipes you find to cook them will expand your cooking repertoire. Trying something new helps farmers that are working to plant a variety of fruits and vegetables. About 75% of the agricultural diversity was lost in the 20th century, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Industrial farms stick to high-yield, easily transportable plants, often sacrificing taste and nutrition. You’ll get nutritional diversity and a different vitamin and mineral spectrum from all the new foods you add to your diet.


Spiritual Sunday — Inspiration for the Revolution

Make Eighty decisions a day

I diagnose people with diseases like hypertension, diabetes and elevated cholesterol. I used to start the appropriate medication, and then I saw that people would be back every three months, checking their liver enzymes and their kidney function to make sure that they tolerated their medications. Eventually, a number of my patients suffered a stroke or heart attack, or developed cancer.

Once I finally understood the connection between plant-based diet and disease reversal, I worked with my patients to help them reverse their conditions instead of just taking pills.

One particular woman is inspirational to me. She shared a personal history of elevated cholesterol and hypertension. She had a strong family history of heart disease, with two of her brothers already dead from heart attacks. She developed terrible muscle pain and headaches from her statin medication. With the increasing risks of statins being reported frequently on the evening news, she felt very concerned about her future.

We talked about sources of unhealthy fats and inflammatory proteins in her diet. Her dietary modifications were so simple, she didn’t even need to write them down. We drew some blood for her labwork. She left with tentative hopes that she could control her destiny with her daily decisions.

Three months later, a miracle happened. This patient returned to my office, having already updated her labs a week before the appointment.

Her blood pressure had gotten so low that she’s gotten dizzy, and had already stopped half her medications. Her cholesterol had dropped under 200 for the first time in her life without medication, already decreased by over 50 points!

She started to cry. For the first time in her life, she felt like she had some control over her health’s destiny. She has the potential to change her health outcomes, simply by making a few simple changes and sticking with them. She just needed to know the healthiest, smartest decisions she could make. It started with her.

It starts with you.

Each of us has about eighty decisions to make every day that impact our health destinies. We can walk instead of drive, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. We can choose an apple instead of an apple fritter, a carrot instead of carrot cake, eat brown rice instead of white rice, or drink hibiscus tea instead of diet soda.

Eighty times a day, every day, individuals decide how healthy they are going to be. Changing just a few of those decisions makes a big difference. Fundamentally changing these daily decisions will change the path of your life.


Save Money and Get Lean

I came from a family that counted every penny, and my parents were extremely frugal. I thought everyone took the mouse out of the mousetrap and reused the trap, until I read a few years ago that most people find that behavior to be evidence of excess frugality.

Despite that, I still have a certain pride in not being wasteful surrounding food. Cutting back on kitchen waste cuts back on your food budget, and supports your goals of better health at the same time.

You’ve joined the Revolution when you’re tossing tough broccoli or chard stems into a soup instead of the garbage.

At work, I’ve started going to the cafeteria at the end of the lunch hour. I never have time to sit and enjoy a lunch anyway, so I stop in the cafeteria at the end of lunchtime and get a huge serving of the leftover vegetables: a cereal bowl full of warm healthy deliciousness for 60 cents. Can you believe that?

In addition, I’m preventing waste by eating vegetables that were otherwise bound for the trash. I can’t even pack a lunch that cheaply! I add a little soy sauce and some hot sauce, and carry my lunch back to my office, where I work on charts (and the Revolution) all afternoon.

Vegetables, especially dark green leaves, are loaded with all the best vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and lots of low calorie fiber.

Because they are low calorie, I can anticipate being hungry after I exercise. So I get two bowls of veggies. Why not? I’ll just be healthier for it.

Here are some other great ideas for converting something that was headed for the bin into something that will cut your risk of heart disease and cancer, in addition to trimming your waistline:

Incorporating greens into your diet is hard if you’re not used to eating them. However, don’t delay in adding these superfoods. Women who eat just one salad a week reduce their risk of hip fracture by 24%. You’ll be amazed at how these simple green leaves will transform your body and your health.


Feskanich D, Weber P, Willett WC, Rockett H, Booth SL, Colditz GA. Vitamin K intake and hip fractures in women: a prospective study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 69:74–9.


Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD

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