With More Nutritional Info Available at Restaurants, Are You Making Healthier Choices?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  170 comments   :  27,481 Views

From coast to coast, nutritional info on restaurant menus is slowly becoming the norm--whether volunteered by companies or (usually) mandated by governments. Though a fight is expected, the U.S. Senate is considering its own legislation to require menu labeling nationwide, and health advocates laud the practice as a way to help staunch the obesity epidemic.

Restaurants are starting to pay attention to consumers. Olive Garden and other eateries owned by Darden Restaurants, which is the world's largest nonfranchise table-service chain, decided this summer to disclose nutrition info online after much criticism by consumers. (Darden also owns Red Lobster, Smokey Bones, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Bahama Breeze.)

Some examples, as gathered by Healthline.com:

Better skip lunch
  • Olive Garden fettuccine alfredo: 1,220 calories; 75 fat grams
  • Bahama Breeze calypso shrimp linguine: 1,220 calories; 56 fat grams
  • Red Lobster classic fried-seafood platter: 1,090 calories; 62 fat grams
  • LongHorn Steakhouse chop steak: 1,220 calories; 80 fat grams

Lighter Fare
  • Olive Garden linguine alla marinara: 430 calories, 6 fat grams
  • Red Lobster wood-fire garlic-grilled jumbo shrimp: 365 calories, 6 fat grams
  • Bahama Breeze grilled ahi tuna with cucumber pepper-slaw: 340 calories, 5 fat grams
  • LongHorn Steakhouse Sierra chicken: 410 calories; 12 fat grams

Other restaurants, such as Claim Jumper, IHOP, Outback Steakhouse and California Pizza Kitchen, are putting stats online to comply with a California menu labeling law that went into effect last month, according to our friends at Hungry Girl.

Hungry Girl cited a few menu items:
Not Bad...
Buttermilk Trio For Me (on the IHOP For Me menu) - 380 calories and 2g saturated fat.
Really Sad... Breakfast Sampler - 1,250 calories and 24g saturated fat!!!

California Pizza Kitchen
Not Bad...
Pesto Chicken Thin Crust pizza (one slice) - 155 calories.
Really Sad... Field Greens salad - 1,372 calories!!!

Outback Steakhouse
Not Bad...
Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer - 432 calories and 3g saturated fat.
Really Sad... Kookaburra Wings appetizer - 1,459 calories and 31g saturated fat!!!

While most of those restaurants aren't changing their menus now that people know the true nutritional impact of their meals, others are taking steps to slim down their offerings to offer consumers what the companies say they've been requesting.

Mimi's Café has added a healthier Fresh and Fit Menu.

Romano's Macaroni Grill had the dubious distinction of being home to some of the worst appetizers in the country, according to Men's Health magazine's "Eat This Not That" Restaurant Report Card feature. (It got a D-.) The magazine recently lauded the restaurant for adding lighter options for lunch and dinner (choose from the Mediterranean Grill and the Amore de la Grill). It should be pointed out that there are still plenty of calorie bombs on the Macaroni Grill menu, but now there are some healthier options.

The Cheesecake Factory, which is famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) for its mammoth portions, has added smaller plates, though with descriptors like crispy, fried, cheese and fritters, they don't seem all that light. And the chain still doesn't post its nutritional info online. (Though a woman from Washington, where they have a labeling law, took photos of every page of the massive menu!)

So restaurants are posting their nutrition info and in some cases offering lighter choices. Are you eating them?

Apparently not, according to a recent survey:
"Surveying American diners, Mintel found that only one in five (20%) rank food health as an important factor when ordering dinner. Far more essential are taste and hunger satisfaction, selected by 77% and 44% of respondents, respectively, when describing what they look for on a dinner menu. And although over three-quarters of adults claim they’d like to see more healthy items on the menu, barely half (51%) say they usually order them."

A few other studies have said that posting nutritional info on menus doesn't dissuade diners from reaching for the burger and fries. (Those studies all examined decisions at just one meal; no research has been done on the overall effect of the availability of nutritional info on a healthy lifestyle.)

So, is it true that we really do just want the bigger, heavier, greasier, more caloric foods? The Applebee's CEO said so last year: "what people say they want and what they eat are often different, [Stewart] said as she sat in a booth at the IHOP. Nearby, a family of four was pouring different flavors of syrup over stacks of pancakes “That’s what people want."

In related news, that restaurant is being sued over claims that Weight Watchers-approved menu choices have far more calories and twice the fat than advertised.

So what do you think? Do you want the nutritional info online and on restaurant menus? If you live in a state where nutritional info is mandated, does it affect your food choices? What restaurants do a good job of offering reasonable portions that are nutritious and affordable?

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    Now I go to restaurants with a plan. I look the restaurant up on the internet. If I can't, I choose what I have learned on Spark what is best for me. - 8/10/2009   8:16:48 PM
  • 119
    Yeah, I eat out less now that I am focusing on a healthy lifestyle. When I do eat out I try to find the nutrition info. on line first and decide what to order before I even leave the house. If I can't do that I look for menu items that don't use the high calorie code words, ie- fried, crispy, creamy sauce, cheesy, etc.

    If people don't want to eat light and healthy, all the info. in the world, no matter where it's listed, will change the way they eat. By the same token, if you are focused on eating a healthy diet, you will figure out how to do it.

    I think many people still see eating out as a special event, even if they eat out every day. So they want to have fun and enjoy themselves and not be worrying about ordering healthy. - 8/10/2009   6:12:02 PM
  • 118
    Ever since I started my weight loss journey, I've been eating out far less than usual. When we do eat out now, I only choose a restaurant that discloses its nutritional information and choose what I want to order before I even set foot in the restaurant. - 8/10/2009   3:32:41 PM
    I look up nutritional info whenever available and base my choices on that info at least 80% of the time. I like being informed and I appreciate having tools available to help me make a better choice.

    Sometimes I do choose to go with the ignorance is bliss mentality for a special meal out with my hubby. That is a rare treat I would say happens no more than a few times a year. I personally am in favor of full disclosure on all menus! - 8/10/2009   2:11:03 PM
  • 116
    Dining out is a treat for me. Although I feel I would probably do somewhat more often, and would sometimes order the healthier fare if it were provided; it wouldn't drastically increase the amount I eat out, nor would I always order healthy options. I think that the fault is that too many people see restauraunt eating as a lifestyle, not that the restauraunts are offering these unhealthier options. - 8/10/2009   2:07:40 PM
  • 115
    This was a very informative and interesting blog entry. Thank you! - 8/10/2009   10:51:25 AM
  • 114
    I just got back from NYC and every menu, even fast food menus, are labled with how many calories are in each and every item. It was great to really know how much I was eating BEFORE eating it. I wish we had that here in Cincinnati. - 8/10/2009   9:39:49 AM
    Great Article! I just read the one on vitamin 'd' and was pleased to see it here. We live in Connecticut and I would venture that 90% of the people here don't get enough of that vitamin (also helps w/weight loss). I would love to have all restaurants post the nutrition info. We went to Longhorn Restaurant Friday night and I ordered the Sierra Chicken - which was awesome (I like everything I have eaten there. I knew it was lower cal, fat, etc. than most (if not all the entrees) of the dishes. It was delicious and I was so glad to see on this website that it was only 400 cals (although I believe there is that many calories in one chicken breast (at least 5 ounces - maybe chicken isn't as high as I thought - I'll check it when I go to calorie counter); anyway it was great and I ate what I wanted to and enjoyed it greatly! Please read the info on vitamin D if you have not. They are finding out that it is a powerhouse vitamin. I really like this site a lot! Thanks Spark People for all you are doing to make us a healthier people! - 8/10/2009   8:40:10 AM
  • 112
    I *do* tend to be aware of the choice I'm making. I'll usually go for the healthy option, but some days I just want the flavour of a particular dish, and then I'll budget it into my day, or I'll work out a little harder the following days to make up for it! I'm glad more and more restaurants are making the nutrition information available - at least I have the OPTION of choosing to eat healthy! :) [Yes, we *could* all guesstimate that the salad, dressing on the side, is going to be healthier than the burger and fries, but that visual reminder of SEEING the nutrition information really DOES help me remember my goals!)
    - 8/10/2009   8:10:23 AM
  • 111
    With the labeling law in effect in California where I live I wonder why I have yet to see a SINGLE labled menu? Maybe I don't eat at enough chain restaurants, but I feel a little jipped! I would LOVE to know how many calories I'd be eating before making a menu choice. - 8/10/2009   2:09:53 AM
  • KAV0829
    The consumer has to be the one to bring around change in restaurant menus. We have to keep requesting for changes in the healthiness of their menus, and then support the ones who do make changes. - 8/10/2009   1:15:15 AM
  • 109
    Have you read the book: "The End of Overeating" by former FDA Commissioner David Kessler? He has an explanation for why many people continue eating the type of restaurant foods you listed in your article. Basically our bodies are wired to prefer the tastes of salt, fat, and sugar. Some people are especially sensitive to the tastes of salt, fat, and sugar. The food industry knows this and deliberately manipulates the salt, fat, and sugar content of foods to create "craveable foods" that don't exist in nature. The result is that we get addicted so we keep buying and eating this stuff even if we know it's bad for us. He talks about "hyperpalatable" foods, the development of which really took off in the 1980s, right about the time the American obesity rate started soaring. There is a lot of experimental data that supports the idea that people who are especially sensitive to hyperpalatable foods will ignore satiety cues and continue eating such foods until they are all gone. As I read it, I finally understood why there are certain foods that I am incapable of eating in moderation once I get started. A good example for me would be the peanut M&Ms my boss keeps in a bottomless bowl on his desk at all times. The book, which I highly recommend, was a real eye opener for me. It also includes an extensive section on Food Rehab to help readers break their addiction to salt, fat and sugar on salt, fat, and sugar. It's a compelling read. I read it about 2.5 weeks ago. I haven't touched an M&M since, and I am extremely careful about what I order when eating in restaurants. I am definitely in favor of nutrition labeling for restaurant foods, and healthier choices. However, that in and of itself won't be enough to get most people to change the way they eat. - 8/9/2009   11:29:09 PM
  • 108
    I rarely eat out anymore due to a gluten allergy. Even at the restuarants that are aware of the importance of an allergy to gluten the last time I ate out a mistake was made in the kitchen and my food had gluten in it. I do check out the nutritional info but I would also like to see the ingredients so I may eat out in a safe and healthy manner. - 8/9/2009   11:08:34 PM
  • 107
    Since joining this site, every food decision I make is planned. I may not plan my meals for the week, but they are planned before I eat, especially if I am going out. I have begun eating different foods that I would not normally eat to improve my health. I look at the menus, the online information, the nutrition information brochures, and if none of them are available, my Calorie King book. I replaced mashed potatoes for rice the other day....mashed potatoes are my fav of all foods.
    Many people do go out and order what they want, just as many people smoke and drink. Everyone does not care about their health, but with all the warnings the FDA places on everything else, we should have the right to know what we are putting in our bodies when someone else is preparing it. - 8/9/2009   10:06:00 PM
  • 106
    At my office, we eat out a lot. I always try to plan ahead by viewing the menu and nutritional information (if available). I wish all restuarants would post this info. It does influence my choices. The statistics say that we do not care, but that is why the majority of Americans are obese. At least give us the option and if you still make a bad choice, then it's your own fault. - 8/9/2009   9:59:52 PM
    I would like to see it done here in Oregon. Especially in the Oriental Resturaunts and Mexican ones as you never know what the calorie content is and have to search the Internet to try and find the meals or something close so you can put it in. Even at that, you can be way off in either direction on the calories. - 8/9/2009   4:37:52 PM
  • 104
    Whenever I plan dinner with friends I try to check out the restaurants website. I have an intolerance to wheat so I would love to see all ingredients listed, but that is just a dream. I do like to check out the nutritional info so that I can take time to make a good decision and I don't take forever reading over the menu at the restaurant trying to guess at what would be best for me. I do have to admit that sometimes I don't care what the nutrition info is and I just say to myself, "Ignorance is bliss." eat it and go home. I don't do this often, but sometimes I have those days. All in all I would love to see the nutritional information for every restaurant at least listed on their website so I can make more informed choices when dining out. - 8/9/2009   12:17:46 PM
  • 103
    I cancelled a family dinner at Friendly's when I saw the calorie, fat, and sodium content of our favorite foods. We also stopped going to TGI Fridays, they won't post their nutritional info., but some independent groups figured them out and all I have to say to most of their foods is OMG! One meal could feed an entire family with the calories in one serving of most of their meals. No wonder they don't post their info., too embarrasing. - 8/9/2009   12:01:29 PM
  • 102
    I would really like to see more nutritional information at restraurants. I do like to go out and I really plan now about what restraurants we eat and and if they are able to meet what I need while I'm on my program. I now study my menus carefully and asked if they do have a nutritional menu. Several do, but I would really love to see more restraurants step up to the plate. - 8/9/2009   10:02:33 AM
  • 101
    I would like to see the nutritional values right on the menu. It would make tracking and choosing wisely so much easier.

    I do often choose the lighter items and even then try to eat only half and take the rest home. I often share a meal with my DH and let him eat slightly more than half to save calories. I would like to see more nutrition labeling handy because I do keep track even when I go out. But sometimes you just want the bigger heavier meal, you just have to keep in mind your total calories and not do it very often. - 8/9/2009   9:39:17 AM
  • SZNN4570
    I am making better choices. I enjoy the Eat This Not That serise. - 8/9/2009   7:40:06 AM
  • 99
    Nutrition facts should be a standard on all menus. Packaged foods have to do it, so why shouldn't restaurants? - 8/9/2009   4:48:38 AM
  • 98
    If more nutritional info was listed on menus I think people would really take notice before ordering some/most things!! We're just a way-too-fat society. Period! Because my husband is diabetic and needs to test (before meals) and take insulin after every meal, we need to have the nutritional count on almost everything. Some of the calories are shocking! - 8/9/2009   1:18:35 AM
  • 97
    I don't live where it is mandated, but will continue to request a copy of the nutrition guide, even though I may have one in my car or have looked before going in, just to make them aware at least some consumers what to know and use that to make their decisions. Baby steps. - 8/9/2009   12:21:54 AM
  • 96
    For the most part when I eat out, which is about once a week, I eat at local restuarants so its nearly impossible to plan ahead. I can usually go online and look at the menu if we're going somewhere new but generally only national or regional chain restuarants provide nutrition information online. The end result is that eating out causes me enormous amounts of anxiety. I either under order and end up hungry or go over whether I feel like I ate enough or not, which results generally in my not enjoying the experience of eating out. - 8/9/2009   12:14:28 AM
  • 95
    Before I go to a restaurant, I check out the nutritional information ahead of time so I already know what to order. So, yes, the nutritional information is important to me, and I use it. - 8/8/2009   9:35:00 PM
  • 94
    Do you want the nutritional info online and on restaurant menus?

    Yes. I don't eat out that often but when I do I want to know the nutritional values of the food. What scares me most besides calories is the amount of sodium in restaurant choices.

    If you live in a state where nutritional info is mandated, does it affect your food choices?

    I don't think nutritional info is mandated in my state but if it was available I would use it to make better choices. I like what CZARINA_TV wrote below. She used the information to make a wiser choice.

    Lawmakers introduced a bill in Arizona requiring chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post nutrition information in plain sight. I think all restaurants should have to post their nutrition. It's usually easy to find nutritional information about chain restaurants anyway. It's the non-chain restaurants or one of a kind restaurants that are hard to find the info for so when I track I'm just guessing.

    What restaurants do a good job of offering reasonable portions that are nutritious and affordable?

    I like Japan Express Chicken Yakatori in Glendale, Arizona. I always get it with white meat. I'm sure the teriyaki sauce is high in calories, though, because it is so good. Chicken, mushroom, bell pepper, onion shish kabob style with teriyaki sauce, rice, and a small salad. I don't think it's a chain. I should find out if there is nutritional info.

    - 8/8/2009   8:55:27 PM
  • 93
    Maybe more people would make wiser, healthier choices if the nutritional information was printed in the menu.

    If I was about to order that Field Greens Salad and saw that it had 1372 calories, I would definitely make a different choice!

    I think that a lot of people have no idea how many calories and how much fat are in some dishes.

    If it was right there in the menu, I'm sure a certain percentage of people would choose differently! - 8/8/2009   8:31:10 PM
  • 92
    I research my meals now before eating out. I still go to the same places but I try to make smarter choices. I am frustrated by the places that still won't give us the nutritional information for their menus, because things that SEEM healthy on a menu can be ridiculously unhealthy.

    I still make "bad" choices sometimes, but I KNOW they're bad choices beforehand, making it a conscious choice. Because sometimes you just want the alfredo! But when the information isn't available, there's no way to make an informed decision, and I don't think that's right. They know people want to eat healthier, so they'll sprinkle words like "fresh" and "green" and "grilled" all over their menus, but the food's not any healthier just because they describe it that way! - 8/8/2009   8:11:50 PM
    I'm in agreement with a lot of comments. It really takes the fun out of going out to eat when nutritional info isn't available, you come home to look it up, and find out your "healthy" salad contained 900 calories. So, for me, going out has become a last resort rather than entertainment. I just don't want the added/unknown calories. I usually think that I can something at home for less-calorically and monetarily. So, restauranteurs...listen up! You're losing my business and, it sounds like, that of a lot of other fellow members!!!
    P. S. I don't mind bringing home a doggie bag but the calorie count is still outrageous even for one serving.

    - 8/8/2009   8:06:57 PM
    ARE UNCLEAN AND UNHEATHTY. - 8/8/2009   4:46:47 PM
  • 89
    It's nice to have options. There are times while having a busy day and lighter options areconvenient, but then there are times when you just want a nice, juicy, greasy cheeseburger. At least with th help of sparkpeople we know ow many calories to save and how much exercise it'll take to work it off :) - 8/8/2009   4:18:20 PM
  • NANNYZ63
    Making wise food choices is key to a healthy lifestyle. So, I love it when restaurants provide nutritional information on their websites and on the menu. I search for it, read it, and it can determine what restaurant I go to. - 8/8/2009   2:50:43 PM
    I do use this information for making healthier food choices.

    It would be interesting to know who commissioned the research studies that came back with the result that peole are not using this information. It would also be interesting to know how the studies were conducted and what kinds of individuals were surveyed for them. If a survey is conducted on behalf of the restaurants and the food industry, you can bet it will be conducted in such a way that the results will support their position that nobody pays attention to it anyway, so it's just an unnecessary expense for them to do it.

    The article about the Mintel Survey contains this quote:

    “Restaurants need to make ‘healthy’ food appeal on flavor, freshness and satiety benefits, not just on calorie and fat information,” recommends Maria Caranfa. “People seek fresh ingredients and more vegetables in healthy food, both of which can be promoted in a positive way. Healthy dining should be as satisfying as ordering from the regular menu.”

    That is the point. Yes, we want our food to be flavorful, be texturally appealing, be reasonably priced, etc. but healthy options can be all of that AND nutritious. A decent chef can make low calorie, low fat starters, entrees and sides every bit as delicious as heavier, sauce-laden fare. I don't care if they leave the fried fatty foods on the menu for people who want to eat that; I just want them to include some other options - like grilled salmon or a chicken breast that isn't breaded and fried.

    To me, it is about being able to make an informed decision. If I look over the menu and pass on the healthy choices to dig into a huge burger and fries, it's on me. But at least I would be doing that knowing full well that other options were available. The fact that the posted nutrition information tends to be understated from what the real nutrition values are tells me two things: (1) That the restaurants aren't taking it all that seriously and (2) it would be smart of me to round up the calorie count by at least 100 calories if I want an accurate picture of what I'm really consuming - or (probably the better option) reduce the amount that I eat to somewhere between 50 and 75% of the portion served and count the posted amounts.

    - 8/8/2009   2:40:49 PM
  • 86
    I feel that all food preparers should have to disclosure nutrional information. I refuse to eat at a place where I can't get the basic info I need to make an entry on Spark People! I am saving plenty of money and they are losing a good customer. I'd still go to a place, but maybe I'd bring more home if I had the info! - 8/8/2009   2:17:21 PM
  • 85
    Honestly, I don't pay attention to that kind of stuff when I eat out. I don't eat out very often, because I have to drive 30 or more minutes to get to a restaurant. If I know I'm going out, I will usually keep my other meals and snacks light so that I have a buffer. I do think about how the foods will affect my calories for the day, and try to order something lighter, but I'm such a picky eater, that I usually end up with the same type of thing over and over. When I do get my meal, I end up not eating at least half of it. I write down what I did eat in my food journal, and when I get home, I log it right away in Sparkpeople. If it is something I haven't eaten before, I check the website for the place to see if they have the nutritional info there, and add it if they do. If they don't, then I usually look for something similar to log in. If I end up being under my calories for the day, I don't think too much about it, because who knows if the info I put in is correct.

    I take my 20 month old to McDonald's every once in a while because it is pretty much the only fast food restaurant in a 50 mile area. I've found that I can keep the calories low if I share a happy meal with him. So, I usually get a cheeseburger and eat half of it, and half of the fries. That makes it only about a 300 calorie meal. I also get a diet coke with it, since he doesn't drink that kind of stuff.

    I've been lucky so far, and have never went over my calorie range when eating out.

    - 8/8/2009   1:49:53 PM
    I do like the info on the menu. I also think that it is misleading and miscalculated. I very rarely eat out because who knows how many sticks of butter they actually use. :( - 8/8/2009   1:43:49 PM
  • 83
    I appreciate having the nutritional information online and on the menu! (I like to order items that have that little healthy heart icon beside them!) I usually order a grilled or broiled fish with rice and steamed veggies. The portion size is usually way too big, so I just take half of it home to enjoy another day. Now if they would just lower the salt content! I find it a challenge to order at the local, small independent restaurants that don't have the nutrtional info online..... I have to be very careful and use some common sense. - 8/8/2009   1:12:03 PM
  • 82
    With the nutritional labeling often comes ingredients. Since I have food allergies, it helps me be able to go out with friends with a little preparation and time on line. I take a risk every time that they won't follow their recipe, but I think it is less than if they didn't have published ingredients.

    Oh, yes. It's nice to sometimes also be able to choose a lighter fare.

    I don't eat out very often in new places. - 8/8/2009   11:45:27 AM
  • 81
    I live in Washington and have really appreciated having the nutritional information available. I like having it online so I can plot my course in advance, but it's also very important to have it with the menu, so you can make wiser choices on the fly. CPK delivers their nutritional information in a seperate folder--like a drink menu--so people can ignore it if they want. I was thrilled to find that my favorite dish there (the Original Chopped Salad) is a better choice than I'd feared, in spite of the meat and cheese. - 8/8/2009   11:37:35 AM
  • 80
    If the nutrition info is available I feel a lot more confident of my choices when eating out and act accordingly. If it's not, I either order a small portion or take half home for another meal. - 8/8/2009   11:35:37 AM
  • 79
    Wait wait wait! Here's the point!

    Low calorie meals are should not be treated as a "no smoking" section that's extra trouble and only "fatties" and "health freaks" care about: put the nutrition info in right with the prices and with more complete ingredient lists. It's just ordinary information, and nobody is asking for the recipe, but some of us do care about onions, peppers, soy, nuts and seafood, so just list that information: don't make the waiter track back and forth to get it. - 8/8/2009   11:25:53 AM
  • 78
    Re nutrition information: online is disclosure, but on the MENU is where it's actually helpful.

    It's part of the price, just like the cost in dollars. I need to know it at the point of purchase.

    That's why it's so annoying when prices are no longer clear at the grocery store, and why it's so helpful when prices per ounce are calculated on the alleged labeling on the shelving.

    On the other hand, it did just help me to go to the red lobster site, dig like a college student doing a research paper and figure out, finally, that my usual preferred meal isn't that bad, and with one change, it works well.

    It's more work than it should be to eat healthy there.

    I'm still a "Subway" fan. Even their heaviest calorie meals are well labeled so that if you're a big guy, have been working out a lot and need something heavy in protein or just want to juggle your nutrition budget that way, you can know what you're doing. Even if you don't, their labeling gives you a subliminal awareness of where you stand that you do wind up taking into account. - 8/8/2009   11:19:10 AM
  • 77
    I've pretty much stopped eating out altogether, except at some locally-owned places where I know both the nutrition AND the types/quality of ingredients (no additives, lots of local, organic stuff, no fillers). Coming home with an msg-headache, or reaction to some other chemical is no fun.
    Besides, I have trouble with portion control at home; especially when it's hot outside, and I go into a deliciously cool restaurant, I'm almost guaranteed to overeat; when I go out again, my first reaction is apt to be a groan. Being confronted with a plate containing enough for four meals and being told it's a 'bargain,' stopped being fun when I was out of college. It's hype, and a lie, and I'm tired of it.
    It's not much fun eating out when I know that I would never prepare the dishes the way they do--too much salt, often greasy (even when 'grilled' or with no reason for there to be much fat), not from 'scratch', possibly long-frozen entrees being thawed. Or, going to an upscale place, knowing they use too much high-fat cream, butter, salt, and other stuff that doesn't feel good in my body. "Fresh" means about as much as "healthy" these days on a menu; I prefer the farmers' markets and my own less-than-stellar efforts at cooking. I feel better eating that way.
    One last rant; I doubt I'd believe what the restaurants say, anyway, any more than I trust the 'no trans-fat' assertions on packaged foods. I know what a carrot is, what
    100% whole-grain means. The rest, I don't trust anyone much anymore. - 8/8/2009   11:13:53 AM
  • 76
    I very rarely check restaurant info on line. When we go out to eat, I almost always get a salad with grilled chicken. I think I've learned enough by now to know what kind of food is good and what kind is not so good. - 8/8/2009   11:05:36 AM
  • 75
    I live in New York City where all chain restaurants are required to post calorie information. The other day, I ran out of cereal, so I had a glass of skim milk and went to Au Bon Pain to get a quick little breakfast on the way to work. I tried to find a croissant or something that was around 200 calories, but the only thing they had in that range were cookies! Instead, I reached for a mini meal package that had grapes, cheese and crackers and clocked in at 180 calories. The calorie information was very, very useful. Some of their breakfasts were 500-600 calories. I'm in maintenance, and my daily calorie range is 1420-1770, so those high fat, high calorie pastries would be the same calorie range as my lunch.

    Muffins and scones are my "backup plan" when I'm running out the door and just need to get something quick. I can rarely eat the whole thing, and thanks to the calorie counts, now I know why. I hope it's embarrassing to these restaurants to have their calorie counts out in the open. I know it was a big eye opener for a lot of my friends. Even though I couldn't have told you what my calorie range was supposed to be before I joined SparkPeople, I knew that a 600 calorie menu item should be a full meal and not a mid-morning snack. - 8/8/2009   10:33:28 AM
  • 74
    I definately choose what I think will be relatively healthy low calorie options when I go to restaurants, but I am almost always disappointed by them. Who wants nasty frozen rubbery vegitables? Iceberg lettuce and dried out carrot slivers dry? Who wants canned grapefruit, or mushy overcooked instant oatmeal? I do find places that will serve me a bowl of fresh tasty fruit and a exciting salad but they are rarely if ever big box chain places. - 8/8/2009   10:21:39 AM
  • 73
    I would definitely want the info on the menu. At least then I can be aware of what I am eating and if I choose an unhealthy option, maybe I would eat less and save the rest for another meal. - 8/8/2009   9:57:04 AM
  • MELLY723
    if possible i try to go online to look at the calories of different dishes before i go out. that way i can plan what i want to eat and dont make a bad decision when im actually at the restaraunt and hungry ( i know i'll be more liekly to make a poor choice) i dont eat out much but i would at least be able to view the nutrional info of what im eating one way or another. - 8/8/2009   9:29:40 AM
  • 71
    I want to know ...but also know it takes time.
    Most people dine out as a treat or to celebrate so they say hey why worry about the calories for just this meal....
    While on vacation I was alarmed by what I saw people eat, as we don't eat out but maybe once a month if that....
    our children are in serious trouble if someone doesn't do something.....exercise and healthy eating should be the top subject taught to our young people..... - 8/8/2009   9:04:01 AM

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