Planned Eating Out
Eating out poses issues for someone following a diet plan, but with a little thought, it may not be the stumbling block that you think it is. If dining out is a planned event then the dieter can research the restaurant menu and calculate the best choice for her/him. As an example, I chose Perkins and went to the company website. On the website, I found that you can browse the complete menu, choose you meal and at the bottom of the page, you can click “nutrition calculator”. The Nutrition Calculator will give you the information for the whole meal just like the nutrition information that you find on a product at the grocery store. The information is itemized for everything in the meal. There is a tick box next to each item and if you deselect the item, and click on “recalculate”, the information will display the nutrition facts minus the deselected item. For my example, I chose a classic cheeseburger with fries. The information displayed, showed that the meal was 2040 calories with 1210 calories from fat. I deselected the fries and clicked recalculate, my revised calorie information was 910 calories with 570 calories from fat. The calculator went as far as allowing the user to deselect the pickles from the burger. The nutrition facts gave all of the information that we are used to, such as sodium, fat, trans fat, protein, vitamins etc.
The tool is great for a planned visit where you have the time to check things out beforehand, although in the present day you can also use your cellphone to connect to the restaurant website and access all of the information that you need while sitting at your table.
Guidelines under the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act require restaurant chains of 20 locations or more to provide calorie and nutrition information on their menus, but this is very basic information. It will help you to get a quick calorie count on your meal of choice though. The important part is that compliance is required only if the restaurant has 20 or more locations, so you can’t always be sure that the basic information will be on the menu.
https://www.nutritionix.com is a very handy website for your calculations if the restaurant that you will be visiting doesn’t have information on it’s own website.
Impromptu Eating Out.
Nutritionix or another similar website can come in handy, as long as you have your smartphone with you. For this test, I decided that I would get an Egg McMuffin. I typed this into the search bar on nutritionix and I found the information that I wanted. The McMuffin was 300 calories with 108 calories coming from fat. The website gave me full nutrition facts and also information about how much exercise it would take to burn those calories off. It was a very impressive tool.
So, if you have a smartphone with a data plan, you are still able to calculate your nutritional data quite quickly, even on an impromptu stop at a fast food restaurant.
I have also found that the restaurants that serve alcohol and have websites give nutritional information about your drink of choice.
Technology has made things much easier for the dieter to enjoy a meal at a restaurant and still stay within their diet guidelines. It may be harder if you visit a unique, stand alone restaurant, but you can still approximate the meal value, as most businesses have an online presence with a menu now. It will just take a bit more effort and may not be practical for an unplanned visit.