Smart women are making foolish choices about food.
Well-educated, higher-income women who eat half their meals in restaurants, eat higher fat diets than women who eat more of their meals at home, according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Also, away-from-home diets are particularly low in dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin C and folacin.
That all adds up to higher risks for cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
How foolish, now that restaurants from diners to five-star-gourmet boast healthier choices.
At the Bel Loc Diner, in Parkville, for instance, you can bypass the fried eggs, bacon and hash browns and choose fresh-squeezed orange juice, freshly mixed fruit and oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and skim milk.
At Au Bon Pain, in Harborplace,you can bypass the raspberry-cheese or chocolate croissants and choose hearty, low-fat soups, salads and whole grain breads.
At the Milton Inn, in Sparks, you can bypass the pate and lamb chops and have an extraordinary vegetarian dinner.
The problem, I think, is the bypass.
Sometimes the sight and smell of food overcomes our loftiest intentions. If you arrive starving, and the menu is written to seduce, it's hard to resist temptation.
If you eat healthfully most of the time, and eat out only occasionally, there's no reason to resist.
But smart choices are the order of the day-in and day-out for those on a steady diet of restaurant meals.
These safety tips will help deliver you from temptation:
* Order from a distance. You won't be tempted by the sight and smell of food.
* Have your group take turns going for take-out.
* FAX your order and have it delivered.
* Hire a caterer for entertaining clients.
* In hotels, order room service.
* Close the menu. Just order what's good for you.
* Frequent places offering lots of healthy choices.
* Have excess bread and butter removed from the table.
* Have all sauces and dressings served on the side.
Make positive choices:
* Choose appetizer portions of lean meat, poultry, fish. They're about 3 or 4 ounces, just the right size.
* Have a vegetable-based soup and a salad.
* Order fresh fruit, no whipped cream, for dessert.
* Have skim milk, not half and half, in coffee and tea.
If all else fails, ask yourself which you'd rather have, a chocolate croissant bypass or a coronary bypass. The choice is up to you.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.