Walking Guide

Do You Know Your Menu Watch Words?

They are small words. They can be easy to miss. They slip off your tongue as you order your food, without even knowing what you are saying. Yet they mean the difference between a healthy or unhealthy meal. What are these unassuming potential land mines? These are your "Menu Watch Words"—and it pays to keep your eye on them.

Going out to eat is a lot of fun. You’re having a good time and you might not always think about what’s best for you. You can avoid the next morning's "Why did I eat that?" hangover by planting a few gentle reminders, well-placed whispers in your ear.

Did you know that consultants travel the country helping restaurants say just the right things on their food menus? Unless you ask the server about the preparation of each item, it’s hard to know for sure what’s really healthy and unhealthy. For example, the word "breaded" can add five times as much fat to your meal as the word "grilled." You can fight back by translating the consultants’ word crafting into something useful. 

Use the watch words below as a guide to finding the right meal to order and knowing which options to skip. Keep in mind, though, that food items can be very healthy or unhealthy regardless of the use of any of these words. For example, "fat-free" food is often packed with sugar and calories to make it taste better. There are times when these words are used to mislead you, which is why we call them "watch words" and not guarantees. It's best to pair this guide along with your good judgment to steer clear of the bad stuff. More often than not, you’ll end up making a smart decision.

Good luck and keep your eyes open.


This article was updated August 2017.
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Member Comments

Some great tips Report
Good to know. Report
I like these tips--so true! Report
Good tips! Report
Thank you for the suggestions and information. Report
BONDMANUS2002
Absolutely great Report
There are no words on the list that I do not already know & most restaurants have a online menu with lots of nutrition information so you can pick & choose ahead of time by what is in it & not just what they call it. If you go to the same places you could pick a few healthy choices to keep in mind. Where I live in Canada every restaurant has at least 1 heart healthy 500 calorie or less meal on their menu now, so even if you do not check ahead of time their will always be 1 healthy meal to have. Even the pubs here you can get information online & some pubs have a gluten free menu. Report
Thanks! Report
Gee whiz!! Report
Really good to be wary of these "watch words" on the menu. don't eat out often, but when I do, I try to make it as healthy as possible. Report
Good article. Excellent need-to-know information when eating at a restaurant! Report
Crazy menu words clarified. Report
Great article! Report
ETHELMERZ
Asking the server doesn't help much, either. Most don't know one thing about how the foods are prepared. Be honest, if you are really worried, you may as well stay home and cook your own food. In your heart, you know what you are ordering may not be healthy.....but you want something tasty. Report
Walking Guide

About The Author

Zach Van Hart
Zach Van Hart
Zach is a journalist who regularly covers health and exercise topics.
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