Making Informed Choices

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Today’s New York Times Business Day features an article describing how restaurants provide consumers with the power to make informed choices: they provide nutritional info allowing diners to choose menu items based on what they’d like to achieve in the way of healthy options.  We all know that calories count…and healthier options are available.

I quote from the paper “The Obama administration’s health care act, which was passed in 2010, included a provision requiring restaurants and food establishments with 20 or more locations to post the calorie counts of standard items on their menus. The final regulations are expected soon, with compliance likely to be required by 2014.”

Some restaurants have taken the leader in this initiative, featuring nutritional info right there on site, on menus and on menu boards, and online too.  Some companies offer some really cool e-tools.  Log on to your favorite fast food franchise and ‘build’ your own meals by choosing, for instance, a cheeseburger, and learn how adding or taking away some key ingredients will lower or raise the calorie count.  Knowledge is power.

For example, log on to McDonalds.com and choose a quarter pounder with cheese. With 550 calories including 1100 mg of sodium and 26 grams of fat, it’s not the healthiest choice, considering the recommendation from the American Heart Association is no more than 1500 mg of sodium for the entire day. But McD’s technology is helpful…you can just click to remove American cheese from a burger and poof! Eliminate 100 calories and 400 mg of sodium. Also, spending some playing around with the site and options reveals some much healthier choices.

  • BK Triple Whopper: 1020 calories, 1090 mg sodium: click off mayo and one of the burgers: 660 cals, 890 mg sodium
  • McD’s Premium Chicken Caesar Salad, parmasean cheese and creamy dressing: 530 calories, 1240 mg sodium: click off the cheese and dressing, replace with low-fat dressing: 350 cals, 980 mg sodium
  • Wendy’s Asiago Ranch Chicken Club: 830, 2020 sodium; click off the bacon, mayo and cheese: 640 cals, 1470 mg sodium, still waaaay too high, but better.

Healthy Dining Finder is featured in the this Times article, and I know them well.  As a company, they’re the leader in supporting consumers seeking nutritional information in restaurant food.  Use this info to make healthy choices when dining out…wherever you go. Healthy Dining Finder consistently grows their restaurant database and are doing a fabulous job of providing this service to both consumers and restaurateurs too.  Log in to instantly find restaurants near you who offer healthier options.  Search by zip code…as well as type of food…ethnic flavor, quick serve, or other. Anita Jones-Mueller, a registered dietitian who is president and founder of Healthy Dining Finder, is quoted in the NY Times: “Customers really want these items, so restaurants are working to make them more appealing.” Log on, stay healthy!