Seven Myths about Restaurant Dining and Nutrition
1. Chicken and fish dishes are always good choices for dieters.
Chicken (specifically white meat) and fish are lower in calories, fat, and saturated fat than red meat, but other factors play a role. Portion size, preparation method, and sauces and other added ingredients, like oil and cheese, can add hundreds of calories and dozens of fat grams.
2. Red meat dishes are not good choices for health-conscious diners.
True, the less red meat in the diet, the better. However, those who enjoy red meat can do so, keeping four guidelines in mind: Select lean cuts (like sirloin); trim the visible fat; limit red meat to once or twice a week; and finally, monitor portions. Since 3-4 ounces of protein is the recommended portion size per meal, consider the following options when restaurant dining: share a red meat entrée with your dining companion and complement it with a white meat entrée or extra side dishes; take some of the dish home to enjoy the next day; “bank” part of your protein (and fat!) allotment from other meals during the day to allow for a larger portion during your restaurant meal. Asian dishes, which often combine protein with vegetables, provide a great way to limit the amount of red meat.
3. Vegetarian dishes are always healthy.
Most Americans fall short of the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, powerhouses of good nutrition. But that doesn’t mean that all vegetarian dishes are good choices. Many meat-free dishes contain a lot of cheese, oil, or nuts, and they can be very high in calories, fat, and even saturated fat (cheese). And some vegetarian dishes don’t include many – or even any – vegetables! So be mindful, even when selecting vegetarian menu items.
4. Restaurant dining is for special occasions, so why not splurge a bit?
Decades ago, restaurant dining was, indeed, reserved for special occasions. But for many people, restaurant dining today is the norm, not the exception, and therefore, most people wouldn’t want to make every restaurant occasion an opportunity to splurge.
5. A heart next to a menu item indicates a low-calorie selection.
Not necessarily! The heart may have been placed there because the dish contains heart-healthy olive oil….or lacks preservatives…. or contains omega 3 fatty acids…….. or is vegetarian. The best policy is not to make assumptions. Restaurants that have joined the HEALTHY DINING PROGRAM may display the HEALTHY DINING logo on their website or menu. Participating restaurants agree to offer a selection of healthier menu choices, which meet the HEALTHY DINING criteria and have been reviewed and approved by HEALTHY DINING’s dietitians.
6. Fast food restaurants don’t offer appropriate selections for those watching their weight.
Many fast food restaurants have joined the HEALTHY DINING PROGRAM and offer a selection of menu items appropriate for weight loss. You can find such restaurants and their healthier choices on HealthyDiningFinder.com by selecting “Under $10” when indicating preferred price range.
7. It’s easy to spot the healthier choices on restaurant menus.
Restaurant menu descriptions are not always complete, so it’s unlikely you’ll have the necessary information to make an informed choice. A knowledgeable server can be helpful, but diners looking for healthier choices and nutrition information should check the websites of individual restaurants or visit HealthyDiningFinder.com for a centralized source of nutrition information for restaurant meals
From www.HealthyDiningFinder.com: Search for healthier meals at restaurants ranging from fast food to fine dining – also view corresponding nutrition info (calories, fat, etc.).