Tag Archives: eating out

Calorie Counts on Menu Boards

Most of us know it is difficult to watch your calorie intakes when you eat out. What seems healthy can often blow your calorie budget: salads that are 1000 calories or more, a chicken sandwich has the highest calorie count of any sandwich on the McDonald’s menu, etc.

In an effort to make health-conscious eating out more feasible, regulations have been in the works for years now to require restaurants with more than 20 locations to label their menus with calorie information. Seems great, right?

That took a slight setback recently. Recently, a bill was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives delaying the deadline for restaurants to have this information until May 2017. Bad news, right?

I actually have mixed feelings on this. Having spoken with some players involved in getting this information ready, it is more complicated than you might think. Easy examples are frozen yogurt shops or pizza places. Toppings will change the info for each pizza. That is a lot of information to try and fit onto menu boards.

I recently saw this solution at Chipotle:

Chipotle menu board

I’ll be honest. While I’m generally a fan of the menu labeling, this solution seems fairly unhelpful. A 500 calorie range with no specifics on what makes you at the bottom or top of that range is basically useless.

All in all, I think this is an important reminder that all regulations require a lot of nuance and to not be overly critical of either side. Each side has valid points.

What do you think of this regulation and it’s postponement? Let me know in the comments section!

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McDonald’s

Big Mac and Shamrock Shake - my order at McDonald's.

Big Mac and Shamrock Shake – my order at McDonald’s.

When I tell people I’m a dietitian, they automatically assume I eat super healthy and never eat fast food. I would say my efforts to eat a balanced, healthful diet are above average but certainly not extreme. And I certainly eat out, even fast food. I’ve said many times on this site that I think all foods can be included in a healthy diet, and I truly believe it.

My husband sent me this article from CNN: “10 Nutritionists Reveal What They’d Order at McDonald’s“. It is ten registered dietitians talking about what they eat at the fast food giant. Most are some variation of a salad. My favorite is number six: fries and a milkshake. Hooray for someone we can all relate to and be friends with!

My real approach to what to order at fast food or any restaurant really depends on frequency. I go out to eat a couple times a month, maybe averaging once a week on an extravagant month. I don’t feel the need to always get a salad or avoid a more “indulgent” choice when I do. As pictured above, my last McDonald’s run was colorful only due to large amounts of food coloring in my shamrock shake. Compare that to my husband, who goes out to eat at least three times a week. His restaurant food choices matter more in the grand scheme of his overall diet.

What do you order at McDonald’s? I’d love to hear your thoughts on fast food dining in the comments.

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Q&A: Holiday Eating

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Q: During the holidays, I eat at other people’s homes frequently. How do I eat healthy and control my weight when I am not planning the menu?

A: Great question! The holidays are often a difficult time for making healthy choices. Treats are everywhere, and big meals become the norm. Here are a few tips for eating healthy when you are eating at someone else’s home.

-Make sure your other meals are very healthy. If you know you are eating at a party for dinner, make sure you eat extra fruits and veggies at breakfast and lunch. Then your daily total will still be adequate.

-Eat light at other meals to balance overall intake. However, make sure you aren’t making yourself go hungry. Excessive hunger will just lead to overeating.

-Try and focus on any healthy dishes that are available.

-If you can, stick to one plateful. If this will leave a bad impression with your hostess, take a second helping before you finish your first. I know that seems strange. But, if you add just a little bit of a second helping to what remains of your first, your plate will look more full and you will eat less food.

-Spread food out on your plate. Avoid tall mounds of potatoes. By making food a thinner layer, it looks like your plate is full when you have less food on it.

-If the event is potluck, bring something healthy yourself.

-If you are hosting a holiday event, try to focus on health when planning your menu. Make it easier for others to keep their goals. If we all try to help each other out, everyone’s holiday eating will be healthier.

I hope that helps. The most important thing to remember is that a little splurging here and there in the holidays isn’t horrible. But being conscious of your choices and trying to minimize the splurges will make for healthier and happier holiday season.

Happy holidays and holiday eating!

Also, I just found a new online resource for healthy recipes. Check it out: https://aloha.com/shop/recipes/

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Eating with Friends

Do you eat differently based on the people you are eating with? A recent study found that your eating companion’s weight may effect how you eat. When eating with an overweight companion, participants in the study were more likely to eat large portions of pasta and small portions of salad. When eating with a normal weight companion, participants ate more salad and less pasta.

While the results of this study are interesting, I am definitely not suggesting that you stop being friends with people who are overweight. That is just rude! However, it is a good idea to evaluate your eating tendencies around different groups of people. If you tend to overeat around one group of friends, be more conscious of what and how much you eat next time you are with them. If you change your eating habits, it could influence them for the better as well, making the whole group healthier. If you find eating healthy difficult around a certain group, try to find other activities to enjoy with them besides eating.

Peer pressure when eating is a real thing. My husband’s family is very good about being health conscious, and they often share entrees or order salads when they go out to eat. When I’m with them, I tend to order salads or a smaller entree. When I go out with my best friend, I feel comfortable ordering as unhealthy as I want and getting dessert to top it off.

Remember, you can make healthy choices, no matter the circumstances. A little planning and evaluating relationships may just help you, too.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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