Making Informed Choices
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!
5 Top Myths About Juicing
It’s pretty inviting—some great looking people on television claim that their weight, health and energy—their immunity—all result from their daily regime of juicing. So easy, you think, so logical, right? They say, “who has time to eat that much fruit and vegetables anyway?”
Your doctor has told you to lose weight…but she didn’t tell you how.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could “juice” your way to a size six, without hunger, without dieting? Wouldn’t it be great to get those 9 servings of fruit and veggies in just one glass?
After all, juice is just another processed food. Drinking your fruits and vegetables is a very efficient way to consume a lot of calories conveniently.
Pureed foods may be prescribed for people who are unable to chew and swallow, whose medical conditions demand strategies that respect their inability to eat. Using a juicer produces what can be considered by-products of whole food. After juicing an orange, for example, what’s left is water and fructose, some minerals and vitamins in the fluid, and what’s tossed is the pulp and fiber.
- Myth: you can juice yourself to weight loss: Truth: Since fiber fills you up it’s ideal for weight management, and unless you’re drinking all the fiber (pulverized) you lose the benefit. Juice is an energy-dense food. Instead of filling you up with fewer calories, juice has more calories in a smaller package, counter-intuitive to weight management. You could say that juicing is a recipe for weight gain.
- Myth: I can never eat enough fruits and vegetables as recommended. Truth: How much is enough? At minimum, enjoy at least three to five servings of vegetables (1 cup raw/1/2 cup cooked) and two or three servings of fruit (1 small piece/1 cup) daily. The minimum provides adequate vitamins and minerals for good health.
- Myth: As long as it’s fresh, I can eat all that I want. Truth: calories count. Consider how many oranges to make just one six-ounce glass of juice…depending on the size and juiciness of that orange—it could be three, four…or more. You’re getting a huge dose of fructose and calories, and research shows that beverages do not make a dent in your appetite. If you peeled and ate that orange, you’d get a bigger ‘bang for your buck’, nutritionally.
- Myth: Why can’t I get all the nutrition I need in those dietary supplements, capsules and powders? Truth: The front-of-the-package labeling appeals to the quest for good health with words like “immune promoting” and “antioxidants”. By drying and dehydrating fruits and vegetables into powders, you’ve processed the fiber and essential freshness out of the produce. For health and for weight management, eat whole fruit, for more energy and fiber, and you’ll feel fuller, longer.
- Myth: Juice fasts can detox my body. Truth: Fasting is another term for “starving”, and can at the very least be dangerous, especially if you have an underlying medical condition. Balance is best, with the right amount of produce, protein (plant and animal), and healthy fats too. Your body performs everyday miracles of chemical processes, and when you feed it well, it’s happy and keeps you healthy. Eat to fuel your engine…as if it were a Ferrari. Avoid processed foods, enjoy fresh foods, and your body will detoxify itself regularly.
Best Ways to Eat Healthy at Lunch
Dining Out: Plan in Advance
Restaurant portions are double, or triple, what experts consider appropriate for most people. Ever notice that it’s one size fits all when it comes to restaurant portions? Knowing how much food you usually eat per meal helps you plan in advance. Other tips:
- Arrive informed: I am not shy about asking—or researching—the restaurant menu in advance. I’ve phoned ahead or gone to the website to see if there’s a menu to review before I dine. Most quick-casual chains—and just about all fast food chains—have online menus. Some have nutritional information right there—just click.
- Learn the Lingo: Quickly scan the menu to ascertain the dishes that are heavily sauced or fried or breaded. When you know the lingo, it is easy to differentiate between well-prepared foods and food that is high in fat and calories.
- Don’t be shy: If the menu doesn’t specify the prep, ask. Asking is always better than being unpleasantly surprised with a dish covered with cheese or floating in fat.
- Out of sight: When you sit down at many full service restaurants, there’s usually a basket of bread or crackers—even dips—on the table. Also there’s fat on the table…butter…about 100 calories per tablespoon. It’s too easy to polish off an entire basket of tortilla chips before ordering a single thing. Take a deep breath—skip it and leave hundreds of calories on the table
- On the Side: Make this part of your restaurant vocabulary, and never hesitate to say it. Most servers understand this request, but it can never be said too often, because salads, vegetables, entrees may all have a fatty sheen of butter or sauce slathered on top.
- Portion Control: Remember, the entrée will usually suffice for two or more, so order one entrée to share, and start with an appetizer salad or soup. Or order two appetizers—one for your entrée.
For you guys that don’t want to spend the cash going out to eat, there’s always smart ways to save from shopping and eating at home.