From this morning’s Hungry Girl Newsletter:
“A local TV station in NY recently busted Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts for selling snacks that had WAY more calories than the stores had posted. Apparently, testing showed that a Starbucks blueberry muffin had 580 calories (not the 420 calories it was said to have), a peach apple tart at The ‘Bucks had 280 calories (not 120), and a Dunkin’ Donuts Flatbread sandwich had 460 calories (not 360)! “
Damn… I’ve eaten those flatbread sandwiches when I’ve needed a quick, healthy, filling breakfast on the run. I often rely on the nutritional information many restaurants post on their web sites. Yes, you absolutely need to review those with a critical eye. After all, I’m fairly certain that their “chefs” (often no more than short-order cooks at the popular chain restaurants where many of us eat) are certainly not measuring out the ingredients they use in the meal they prepare for me. While many items are pre-measured, you can also be sure that many more items (for example: cheese, dressings, sauces, condiments, butter–all of those things that are often high in calories and fat) are not. Lack of measurements = increase in calories.
This is why I limit dining out to my free day, or I am very controlled in what I order. For example, I know that many sandwich shops DO measure lunchmeat, so I know I can order a sandwich, carefully select the healthier condiments and veggie toppings and know what I’m getting. (Warning: this is not always true of wraps, as they can vary signficantly in terms of calories, fat, carbs and fiber–they aren’t always a healthier option.) I can also order Chinese (seriously!) because I’m fairly certain that when I order steamed chicken and broccoli or steamed shrimp and snow peas with brown rice and sauce on the side, that’s what I’m getting. And then I measure out my own portions and I’m frugal with the sauce. By the way, if you haven’t tried steamed chicken at a Chinese restaurant, you really need to try it–I’ve never had anything so tender and tasty in my life!
When I started losing weight, I avoided restaurants like the plague. Difficult, considering I was working two jobs at the time and finishing my Master’s Degree. I loosened up the reigns a little bit and kept a binder in my car with the nutritional information for my favorite restaurants and take-out locations, but that binder was filled with more healthy types of eats, like Pita Pit, the local grocery store’s prepared foods section, etc.). If you do this, be sure to check whether this information is accurate periodically. Restaurants and food manufacturers will often update their recipes. As my sister noticed, some of the products she was buying switched from using sugar to high fructose corn syrup, because it’s a less expensive sweetener. While it doesn’t change the calorie content, you may not want to consume it.
When my weight loss slowed down and my lifestyle became less busy, I stuck mostly to eating at home, but I’m often questioned or criticized by friends or family members who say that living a life without eating out it unrealistic. Is it really?
So, what do you do? How often do you eat out? Do you avoid restaurants? Do you trust what they post for nutritional information?
And… most importantly… who wants to join me on an eat-at-home challenge to see if we can survive the month of April without dining out?