Archive for the tag - restaurants

Study: Eating Out Adds 200 Calories Per Day…

t1larg.fastfoodWhether it’s going to your favorite fast food establishment or eating a sit down meal at a restaurant, researchers have found that dining out adds an average of 200 calories per day to your diet.

The study, which was recently published in Public Health Nutrition, surveyed some 12,000 individuals on two separate days. According to the data, the calorie boost was greater for low income individuals and people who identified as black. High income individuals saw the smallest increase in calories; researchers speculate that higher income individuals may have better access to resources and healthier (but often more expensive) food options.

It’s no secret that fast food and restaurant meals are often more calorie-dense than home-cooked meals. But researchers noted that on days when individuals ate out, they didn’t adjust their calorie intake accordingly. In other words, if you know you’re eating out for dinner, compensate for the extra calories with an especially healthy lunch. It can help mitigate the damage.

Beyond calories, restaurant and fast food eating also resulted in more saturated fats, sugar and salt.

This data clearly demonstrates the impact of typical restaurant meals on our diets. But the choice doesn’t need to be between eating out and proper nutrition. There are certainly steps that each of us can take to ensure healthier restaurant meals. Like drinking water instead of sugary drinks or alcohol. And sticking with baked or broiled options rather than foods that are fried, creamy or breaded. Research restaurants online (some have more healthy options than others) and ask your server for substitutes.

200 calories might not sound like a lot, but when those calories are consumed several days a week, 52 weeks a year – they add up to an alarmingly large number. Be aware of the foods you eat and make smarter decisions whenever possible!

7 Tips: Healthy Vacation Eating.

HealthWatch-06_10For the last 31 days, I’ve been jet-setting around the globe on a world tour to meet fans and to film content. Incredible as the tour was, from a health perspective, 31 days of eating in restaurants, planes, food courts and cafes posed a real challenge for my body.

So, I created a strategy. And spoiler alert, it worked.

Here are the 7 rules that I created for myself:

  1. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. I can’t stress this enough. Water has so many amazing and wonderful benefits including clearer skin, increased productivity, decreased cancer risk – and even a metabolic boost. Drink more. Weigh less.
  2. Eat for fuel, not pleasure. Okay, this one is a bit tricky. I don’t like the idea that eating healthy means forgoing flavor. There are tons of healthy, delicious and nutritious meals – especially if you’re cooking at home. When traveling, it’s a bit more difficult. So I prioritize the nutritional value of food over its flavor. Sure, pizza would be delicious. But a colorful salad topped with grilled chicken is what my body reallt needs. You don’t have to love the way every meal tastes. But you’ll certainly love the way it makes you feel – and that counts for a whole lot more.
  3. Look for the 12 unhealthy restaurant menu words. Anything that says Alfredo, pan-fried, crispy, battered, au gratin, etc. doesn’t belong in your stomach. Instead, clue into words like steamed, grilled, broiled or baked. In general, they’ll point your toward healthier food choices.
  4. Stock up on high-fiber fruit. When we traveled for my tour, we really didn’t stay in any one city long enough to go grocery shopping or to prepare meals on our own. But I did find a few minutes to sneak out to a local convenience or grocery store and buy some high-fiber fruits like apples. Because fiber is slow to digest, an apple snack is a great way to curb your hunger. When you do go out to eat, you’re much less likely to overeat.
  5. Don’t drink your calories. Okay, you’ve heard this one before. But consider how many more calories are packed into restaurant meals versus what you’d be cooking at home. All the extra butter, cheese and grease doesn’t help – not to mention extra large portion size. It’s possible to offset some of those additional calories by sticking to water as a beverage of choice. The only exception would be a nutrition-packed drink, such as a real fruit smoothie made with an unsweetened almond milk base (versus an apple juice base which is loaded in sugar and calories).
  6. Customize your meals. Don’t order exactly as it is from the menu. Most restaurants are happy to make substitutions. Cut out the mayo. Ask for the dressing on the side. Get a sandwich without cheese. Ask for dry toast. Substitute a side item for salad or steamed vegetables. Get brown rice instead of white. While small, each of these substitutions will instantly upgrade your meal.
  7. Pay attention. It’s not about starving yourself or going crazy, but it is about paying attention to the food that goes into your body. Make each food decision consciously and deliberately. This doesn’t mean avoiding gelato in Italy, but it might mean enjoying a few spoonfuls rather than a whole container.

As a bonus tip, it’s important to be realistic. Traveling and eating healthy are real challenges, and so it’s not a good time to embark on a diet or weight loss plan. It’s more about minimizing the damage or trying to maintain your current level. And good nutritional habits should be complemented with good exercise habits. Even while traveling – or, especially while you’re traveling – go to the gym to prevent muscle mass loss and to burn off those extra calories.

Study: Only 4% of Restaurant Main Dishes Meet Government Guidelines.

Planning on eating out a restaurant? According to a new study, there’s a very good chance that your meal will exceed federal nutrition recommendations for calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium.

The 18-month study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by the Rand Corp., examined nearly 31,000 menu items from 245 top U.S. restaurant chains. The findings were abysmal.

According to Helen Wu, the lead researcher:

If you’re eating out tonight, your chances of finding an entree that’s truly healthy are painfully low. The restaurant industry needs to make big changes to be part of the solution.

Just how low are your chances of eating healthy? Based on the collected data, only 4% of main dishes fell within the federal guidelines. In other words, 96% of main dishes have more calories, fat, saturated fat and/or sodium than advised by the government.

The USDA recommends that main dishes not exceed the following guidelines:

  • 667 calories
  • 35% of calories from fat
  • 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • 767 mg sodium

According to researchers, surveyed appetizers and main dishes averaged 813 calories and 674 calories respectively. Moreover, the main dishes at family-style restaurants were significantly less healthy than fast food chains. Their main dishes, probably because of portion size, averaged in with 271 additional calories, 435 additional milligrams of sodium and 16 more grams of fat than fast food alternatives.

Clearly, dining out can be a real challenge for health-conscious individuals – and, though restaurants have made some changes (like listing calories on some menus) – more needs to be done.

I always recommend researching a restaurant before deciding where to eat, avoiding menu items with words like crispy, creamed, buttered, cheesy, pan-fiend or breaded, drinking lots of water and sharing desserts. It’s also a good idea to eat an apple before going out to eat. The apple, which is rich in filling fiber, will help curb your appetite before chowing down on unhealthy restaurant food.

For more information, check out my 9 tips to eat healthy at a restaurant or the top 12 words to avoid on restaurant menus.

12 Words to Avoid on Restaurant Menus (And Healthier Alternatives)!

A moment on the lips... forever on the hips!

The National Restaurant Association claims that Americans eat almost 24% of their meals in restaurants. Those restaurant meals are often loaded with sodium, unhealthy fats, sugary sauces and and an enormous amount of calories.

By making small changes in the ways we order restaurant foods, we can make a big change in our overall health and wellness.

Pay attention to a meal’s description for clues into its possible nutritional value (or lack thereof). It’s generally best to avoid foods described with the following words on a menu:

  1. Alfredo
  2. Pan-fried
  3. Crispy, crunchy
  4. Battered
  5. Au gratin
  6. A la mode (topped with ice cream)
  7. Scalloped
  8. Loaded/covered
  9. Cheesy
  10. Buttered
  11. Creamed
  12. Fried/deep fried

Instead, opt for food items described as:

  1. Steamed
  2. Broiled
  3. Grilled
  4. Baked
  5. Seasoned
  6. Stir-fried
  7. Poached
  8. Roasted

Using these guidelines, you might order steamed dumplings instead of the pan-fried alternative. Or broiled fish instead of a deep fried option. Likewise, seasoned veggies make for a wiser choice than vegetables in a butter or cream sauce. You get the point.

In general, these healthier adjectives can help point conscious restaurant eaters in a better direction.

And remember, lots of little changes add up to big changes over the course of months and years!

Also, thank you to everyone who snagged my brand-new Jock Workout fitness program and exercise videos during yesterday’s launch! It was my most successful product launch ever! Check out The Jock Workout today to see what all the fuss is about (and to watch a free preview). Remember to use discount code “blog” to save 25% before June 7!

9 Tips to Eat Healthy at Restaurants!

He’s ready to take your order…

It’s difficult enough to eat healthy at home – even when you are in control of the ingredients being used. But dining out at a restaurant presents a real challenge for health-minded individuals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or really just maintain a healthy lifestyle, try making use of these top 9 tips:

  1. Play on your own turf. Not all restaurants are created equal. Opt for restaurants that value nutrition, and browse the menu online before you go. Ensure that there are healthy options that appeal to you.
  2. Start smart. Fried calamari and potato skins might be tempting, put go for a soup or salad instead. If ordering soup, select a tomato or stock-based option (rather than one made with cream). For salad, order dressing on the side. A great tip for eating salad: Dip your fork in the dressing, and then scoop up some salad. It’s just enough dressing to add flavor without overloading your meal with calories and fat.
  3. Learn the language. Unhealthy options are often disguised. Words like “crispy,” “alfredo,” “breaded,” and “pan-fried” generally indicate unhealthy choices. Look for words like “grilled,” “steamed” and “baked.”
  4. Speak up. Eating healthy may require asking for substitutes. The chicken sandwich may come with a pile of fries, but you can ask for vegetables or salad as a substitute instead. You can ask for fried foods to be grilled, and dressings or sauces on the side.
  5. Don’t drink your calories. Fruity drinks and soda are packed with calories. Water is always the best option. If you’re going for an alcoholic drink, opt for wine or light beer.
  6. Speaking of water, drink lots of it. Water has a slew of great benefits. It boosts your metabolism, curbs your appetite and slows down your eating. Your stomach is full 15 minutes before your brain realizes it – so water does wonders to prevent overeating.
  7. Know your meat. It’s always best to select leans meats. Prime rib is loaded with fat (in fact, it’s one of my top 5 unhealthiest holiday foods); filet mignon or flank steak are much healthier. Poultry is a great option, but order it without skin (the skin adds a quick 8 grams of fat). Order breast meat (instead of thigh meat) whenever possible.
  8. Look for healthy selections. Restaurants often have a section of their menu to showcase healthy options. Other restaurants designate certain menu options with a symbol if they meet healthy guidelines. Ask your waiter or waitress for guidance.
  9. Share a happy ending. Sorbet or non-dairy gelato are much healthier than that triple chocolate layer cake with vanilla ice cream. And there’s no harm in sharing a dessert with your dinner partner. Splitting the calories halves the damage!

Do you have any tips for eating healthy at restaurants? I’d love to hear ’em. Let us know in the comments below!

And for more nutrition information, download my Eating For Fitness ebook today!