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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Take a Restaurant Pop Quiz

The familiar holiday song touts December as "the most wonderful time of the year." But for people watching their weight and minding their health, now is the most difficult time of year, particularly if they're spending an inordinate amount of time in restaurants.

If this describes you, do you think you healthfully navigate the gravy-laden paths of restaurant menus? The American Heart Association has a "true or false" pop quiz to determine your trattoria savvy, and following are some of its highlights. Scroll down to see the answers.

1. Restaurants frown on special requests, and asking for low-fat or low-salt ingredients will enrage your server -- and the kitchen staff.

2. Not clearing your plate is an affront to the chef.

3. Fast Food will kill you.

Did you answer "false" to all the questions? Good for you. Here's the breakdown.

1. By all means, ask your server for healthful special requests. Restaurants want patrons to eat well and leave happy, and if that means honoring health needs they are happy to comply. If you're shy about asking, call ahead to discuss your options.

2. Just because it's on the plate doesn't mean you have to eat it all. Portion control is among the most important components of losing weight -- and keeping off the pounds. Ask the server for an appetizer-sized portion, or share your entrée with your dining companion. If you find yourself stuck with a "Flintstones"-sized portion, don't feel compelled to eat it all. Eat some, and take the rest home.

3. Fast food restaurants do not kill people. While Whoppers and Big Macs are clearly not healthy choices, fast food companies now offer more low-calorie options on their menus, including grilled chicken, salads with low-fat dressings and yogurts. Avoid fried foods and keep portions on the smaller side if you're unsure of the caloric value of your food choice.

How do you manage to eat healthfully at restaurants? Do you have some tricks, or do you just over-eat and "pay" for it later? Post your thoughts here, or send me an email, at

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