Whether you’re searching for the ideal career, scoping out a new place to live or planning a vacation, life is all about making right choices. Living a healthy, fitness lifestyle also requires that you make key decisions. Becoming more active, finding a great gym, making the time to work out all require proper planning. While these are crucial factors, it’s your nutritional choices that will determine your success. Yes, it’s what you put in your mouth that will make or break your health and your physique.

Eating “right” requires knowledge and planning. Certainly, the best nutritional strategy is to shop for and prepare your own healthy meals consisting of good clean organic foods. There is nothing better than a diet consisting of complex, low-glycemic index carbohydrates (fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains), lean fresh protein sources ( chicken, fish, beef) and very low amounts of poly-unsaturated fat (low-fat dairy and some cheeses).While the above plan is ideal, the reality is, most of us spend a lot of time eating out or eating on the run at restaurants and fast food joints. A few visits to these places every week will pile on the pounds in no time!

Here are a few pointers about restaurant eating that can keep you lean and on track with your fitness goals.

Breakfast or brunch on the weekend with friends can be a pleasure. But in one sitting you can literally consume your daily calorie requirements of fats and carbs. Ask for egg-beaters when ordering an omelet. Avoid  bagels, and Danish and opt instead for an English muffin or a couple of pieces of whole grain toast. Try unbuttered grits with a little fresh salsa instead of hash browns. Avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage.

A sandwich for lunch sounds simple and convenient. Yet, it’s not just burgers that are lethal, those deli sandwiches can be just as deadly. Between those slices of bread lurk some serious calorie pitfalls like mayo, salad dressing, several servings of salty cold cuts, and loads of fattening cheese. Choose whole-grain breads or better yet, a wrap and grilled chicken instead of ham, roast beef, tuna or chicken salad. Order only half a sandwich and avoid super sizes.

Pasta is good energy food but, request a half portion and you’ll save hundreds of calories. Eat pasta earlier in the day so that the carbs fuel the rest of the day’s activities. If it’s available, choose a healthy whole-wheat pasta or spinach pasta for a more fiber-rich dish and pair it with a lean protein grilled portion of chicken or fish. Avoid cheesy calorie-dense dishes like ravioli, manicotti and lasagna.

Sushi is a healthy choice when dining out. Broiled fish, steamed veggies, edamame and tuna, yellowtail and salmon sashimi are all tasty and light Japanese fare. But unless you want to look like a sumo wrestler, steer clear of tempura and agemono, which indicate deep-fried.