Restaurants are secretly making us fat!

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?


6 responses to “Restaurants are secretly making us fat!

  1. So… there’s no reason that starbucks and dd should be off like that… all they are doing is grabbing a slice of cheese, warming an egg in the microwave and putting it on the bread… starbucks gets there stuff from a vendor typically who i would expect cooks for the masses and therefore follows a recipe… that doesn’t account for being 25% off on thier estimates…

    i unfortunately won’t be participating in the april no eat out month becuase it just won’t happen. But I only eat out at lunch 2 a month and dinner 0-2 times a week. And I only order what I can’t cook at home… my reason for that is why will i let them cook me a cheeseburger that’s going to have 1200 calories for $10 when I can make myself a 300 calorie one that tastes as good for $2… instead I’ll get the Lamb Burger or some sort of ethnic food like Thai…

    Thanks for my call out… I guess you do listen to me when we talk on the phone… 😉

  2. Does a wedding reception count as eating out?

    If I can evoke the out-of-state rule for the reception, the boys and I will join your challenge for the month of April.

  3. I’m with Val, it seems so very strange that the websites and actuals could be that far away from each other! I wonder if the TV station tried several different stores or just one store in their sample.

    Good luck with not eating out in April. I could never do it.

  4. I was thinking the same thing, since I have a concert to go to and two award ceremonies (one involves dinner, the other I’m not sure).

    Let’s say the rule is this: Dinners out are allowed only for very special occasions–we’ll use our discretion.

    I’m thinking weddings and an awards ceremony counts. Concerts do not. 🙂

  5. That is a great challenge. I don’t eat out that often, as I am not much of a fan of eating out. I like trying to make things at home, because really, the process in itself is enjoyable for me. LOL

  6. I’m highly annoyed now… this morning as I was making my arnold sandwhich thins i noticed there was no high fructose corn syrup in it… as marketed on the packaging… so ofcourse i then read the ingrediants and find out that sucrolose is in it… seriously? Replace one chemical with another… I’m fasting now since i can’t trust what I eat…

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