Wednesday, March 21, 2012

(Healthy) Eating Out Can Be Tricky!

Eating healthy foods while eating out can be an extremely difficult task. Many of us think that we are choosing healthy foods, but in reality we may be getting an artery-clogging, sodium- and calorie- packed meal without even knowing it. You think you’re eating healthy by ordering a Greek Salad, but at many restaurants the portion will cost you over 500 calories, 70 g of fat (43% DV saturated) and almost 1500 mg sodium (the recommendation for people over 40 years old!). Restaurants sometimes even trick you into thinking something is better for you than it actually is. For example, one popular cafe offers a “Lighter Side Grilled Chicken TBM” sandwich that will still run you 527 calories, and 32% your daily value of saturated fat. That isn't my idea of something "light."

A restaurant notorious for it’s offensive calorie content now offers a “Skinnylicious” menu, but the chopped salad shouldn’t be considered “skinny” at 570 calories, 10 g saturated fat, and almost 1500 mg sodium... although, I guess skinnier than it’s obese 2000 calorie-filled pasta parents. Sure, soups can be a low fat and low calorie alternative to a sandwich or salad while getting your veggie servings in for the day, but they are often jam packed with sodium (I’m not sure how they get so much in there!). In fact, any time you eat out you can almost be guaranteed to get more than half a days worth of sodium (found in bread products, salads, tomato sauces, seasoned meats, etc). High sodium loads will leave you feeling bloated, thirsty, and just not very good.
No worries, eating healthy while dining out is possible! My place of employment, Club La Maison, has recently partnered with Ella’s American Bistro (across the street) in an effort to make healthy eating easier for CLM members (and the general public too!). As CLM’s dietitian, I will be working with head Chef Matt Schuler to make their menu items healthier and highlight recommended dishes. If you are a CLM member, order one of my approved meals (Grilled Salmon or the Nicoise Salad), and you will receive 10% off that entrĂ©e on Mondays and Tuesdays. If you are a non-CLM member, you will receive a complimentary week pass to the Club just by ordering one of the healthier entrees. We are also working hard to get a healthy dessert option and lower-calorie cocktail onto the menu. I am pushing more whole grains and ways to cut fat and sodium from the menu. Soon, the key nutritional information (calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium) for the “dietitian approved” meals will be made available on the menu (with more details available upon request of your server).

At any restaurant I always recommend ordering a salad without cheese and “crunchy” things, and the dressing on the side. I also recommend ordering grilled or broiled fish, and whenever possible, ask for fish without butter or sauce (salsa or fruit okay!). Be cautious of “vegetarian” entrees as these are often pasta dishes loaded with cheese, oil, butter, and/or cream.


Disclaimer: I have not received funding from Ella's American Bistro or compensation to advertise for them.

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