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Dec. 12 2007, Published 7:41 a.m. ET

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Don’t let the mall ruin your diet! OK! tells you what you’re really eating at the food court

The holiday season is already here, and there are only a few days left to get your shopping done. But before you find the perfect recipe for diet disasters in your mall’s food court, Penny Geller, director of nutrition for Nu-Kitchen, tells OK!, “You are better off getting a healthy snack instead of a whole meal... save dinner for when you get home.” Here are Penny’s do’s and don’ts for the food court, plus some tips on how you can get your workout in, too!

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Chinese

BAD CHOICES

General Tso’s chicken

650 calories, 42g fat

Orange chicken

500 calories, 27g fat

Spare ribs

400 calories, 23g fat

BETTER OPTIONS

Vegetable spring rolls (2)

160 calories, 7g fat

Hot and sour soup

110 calories, 3.5g fat

Stir Fry

BAD CHOICES

Fried rice

450 calories, 14g fat

Pan-fried dumplings

400 calories, 12g fat

Beef lo mein

1,000 calories, 42g fat

BETTER OPTIONS

Steamed veggie dumplings (4)

300 calories, 8g fat

House special soup

200 calories, 6g fat

Fast Food

BAD CHOICES

Large sandwiches with two or three beef patties

Could range up to 800 calories, 40g fat (mostly saturated!)

French fries

Up to 600 calories, 30g fat

BETTER OPTIONS

Grilled snack wrap (no dressing)

200 calories, 10g fat

Salad (veggies only, light dressing)

150 calories, fat depends on dressing

Fruit and yogurt parfait

160 calories, 2g fat

Italian

BAD CHOICES

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Pizza with the works

900 calories, 44g fat

Lasagna

800 calories, 36g fat

BETTER OPTIONS

Salad with dressing on the side

(Dip fork in dressing with each bite.) Less than 200 calories, fat depends on dressing.

Sub Shops

Stay away from 12-inch subs — they’re just filled with calories (about 600 per sandwich), and cold cuts aren’t the best meat option. Instead, go for a 6-inch veggie sandwich, which has about 160 calories.

Work Out While You Shop!

Are you skipping the gym to get in some extra shopping? Bryn Mars, assistant fitness manager at The Sports Club/LA, tells OK! how to get a workout in while you’re at the mall.

SKIP THE CART

Try to distribute bags evenly in each hand; depending on the weight, you’re burning an extra 30 calories an hour.

TRY IT ON

Hitting the fitting room not only insures that everything looks good, it also burns an extra 204 calories an hour.

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NO STROLLERS

Carrying your baby or toddler can burn an additional 50 calories per hour .

TAKE THE STAIRS

Long wait for the elevator? Opt for the stairs and burn an additional 272 calories an hour. Work your butt and hamstrings by skipping every other stair.

SPEED IT UP

Speed walking will get you there quicker and burn up to 400 calories more than regular walking.

NO SITTING

While you’re in line, don’t find something to sit or lean on. Standing burns

61 calories more per hour than sitting does.

Healthy Snacks

Nu-Kitchen’s Geller tells OK! that it’s imperative to eat every two to three hours so you’ll never be famished. Some great snacks: trail mix, fruit or a protein bar (as long as it’s got fewer than 150 calories). OK!’s favorite snack is pistachios. In fact, a recent study at Penn State found that just a 1.5-ounce serving of these nuts can reduce stress. Instead of letting low blood sugar, moodiness or holiday lines make you crazy, have a handful of pistachios!

By: Karen Berg

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