Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Word About Eating Out

Bowing to outside pressure as there is more concern about America's growing girth, many more restaurant chains these days are starting to include healthier choices on their menus. It's a welcome change, but don't assume that just because an item is listed as "healthy" or "smart," it's going to be lower in calories. For example, a recent check of the popular baked goods chain, Dunkin' Donuts, shows they have a line of items dubbed "DDSmart." These are items that are billed as "Better For You Choices That Keep You Running." That may well be, but take it upon yourself to do a little investigation.

Listed under their bakery items, Dunkin' Donuts has a Reduced Fat Blueberry Muffin. That sounds good. But the muffin is listed at 400 calories, 45 of those from fat. Right below the muffin is listed a Cheese Danish. I would think it would be much higher in calories but instead, it's only 340. However, it gets 200 of those calories from fat. Certainly the muffin would be considered healthier because it contains less fat, but note that it is higher in calories. Listed under bagels, the "DDSmart" item is the Multigrain Bagel at 380 calories, 50 of those are from fat. Multi grains are great, but the Plain Bagel listed contains 320 calories, 25 of those from fat.

This is why it's important to actually have the nutrition information on items and not simply rely on those little menu logos that mark items as healthy or low fat or heart healthy. And for those restaurant chains that don't bother to give nutrition information, you can't assume you can just look at something and tell, or assume that since similar items you might eat at home aren't that high in calories, the ones in the restaurant chains aren't going to be either. Be responsible for what's important to you. If you need to eat low fat, fine. But if you're assuming things that are listed as low fat are also low calorie, think again.

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