This New York Times article shows photos of food from popular restaurants with calorie counts, and shows how easy it is to get a full day’s calories in a single meal. It’s frustrating, because in some cases, we’re choosing items that are higher-quality food choices than typical fast food, but the portions we get are crazy — and then the main item comes with a side dish (or two). A huge amount of food doesn’t deter us from cleaning our plates, and even dietitians are not that great at tracking their calorie intake, so what’s a regular person to do?
Knowing is half the battle, and new regulations are set to require nutritional information at the point of sale for all food-selling businesses with more than 20 outlets. Some chains, like Chipotle, already do this (and Chipotle has a nice nutritional calculator at its website, too, so you can play with the options before you get there).
To make sure meals out don’t break the calorie bank, do a little planning:
— Consider dividing your meal in half, and taking half home for the next day
— Keep your eating light before your restaurant meal, or plan restaurant meals for days when you can afford high calories (some people have a weekly cheat day they use for this)
— Use published information, like the Chipotle calorie counter, to plan some options with calorie counts you can live with
— Focus on dense-nutrition foods at home, and visit a restaurant for a single treat item, like smothered fries or (or 🙂 ) a milkshake
Some days you’ll want to go the little treat route, and some days you’ll want a huge meal with all the trimmings. Getting some information before you go means you can make those choices on purpose, and still maintain your healthy habits.