Friday, January 24, 2014

Diet Tip #17: Check Calorie Counts When Dining Out

Starbucks cranberry orange scone
Starbucks Cranberry Orange Scone/Courtesy
This falls under the category of things you don't want to know but should.  Be proactive about learning more about the calorie counts of food items at your favorite dining establishments.  It might make you rethink your food choices.

When I found out my favorite Starbucks cranberry-orange scone had 490 empty calories and 34 grams of sugar I almost choked on my latte.

This moved the Starbucks scone from a 5-day a week staple during my 200-pound days to a once-in-a-blue-moon indulgence.  Not coincidentally, I lost weight in the process.  (btw, I LOVE Starbucks Spinach Feta wrap - a great 290-calorie choice!)

States like New York and California have laws which require restaurants chains of 15 or more establishments to post calorie counts on menus.  This has wholeheartedly affected my dining choices when I visit these states and I am not alone.

A friend on Twitter, Joe Nabicht, who moved from Texas to California recently shared his experience with menu calorie counts.

So what do you do if there is not calorie count displayed at your favorite restaurant?  Be proactive.  Many chain restaurants have nutrition menus.  You can simply look them up online.

Corner Bakery Chicken Salad calorie count
Corner Bakery D.C. Chicken Salad on Rye/Courtesy
I used to eat a Corner Bakery Chicken Salad Sandwich a few times a week for lunch.  When I saw from their online nutrition menu that it has 610 calories I reconsidered my choice.   I now enjoy the Spinach Sweet Crisp Salad with some soup.  This yields a 400 calorie lunch that is more satisfying than a sandwich.

Corner Bakery Spinach Sweet Crisp Salad calorie count
Corner Bakery Spinach Sweet Crisp Salad/Courtesy
Does your favorite dining spot not offer nutrition menus?  Then be smart about your choices. You know the drill: veggie-heavy sandwiches, nix the creamy sauces, opt for steamed veggies, grilled meats, salads with dressing on the side or a nice broth soup.

The Takeaway
There's no need to get scientific and obsess over calorie counts.  If you are, however, looking to drop a few pounds and want to keep them off permanently, a simple scan of various nutrition menus can give you a good idea of smart food choices to make when dining out.

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