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Old 11-06-2010, 06:32 PM   #1
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When you look at the nutrition content of restuarant food on their websites, how accurate can I assume these calculations? Is their any kind of oversight or do we just have to assume what the company has posted is close enough? I'm sure there is some flucuation depending the indivdual restaurant or cook (not measuring exactly, etc.) but if a company says their meal has 470 calories, do I just go with the idea that I really just ate 470 calories?

A friend of mine talked me into going to IHop tonight (let me just say, definately a restaurant where diets go to die). They have "healthy options" (about 4), so I got tilapia with a balsamic glaze and a double order of broccoli, which was completely plain, just steamed. It said it was 470 calories, but was it really?
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:41 PM   #2
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truth is, it very well may vary by some spread of calories. I doubt the accuracy is very policed. broccoli with tilapia and rice sounds tasty and healthy, I wouldn't sweat it too much, esp if it's not a place you're going to all the time.
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:54 PM   #3
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Chain restaurants portion-control pretty tightly, so IHOP probably did feed you pretty close to 470 calories (you can round it up to 500 if you are counting very closely and prefer a little wiggle room). They don't want to overstate their portions and give away the farm; if they over-served you anything, it might have been the vegetables. Veggies are super-cheap for restaurants and they watch those portions less precisely.

Where you can run into trouble is with stuff that's harder to portion out such as sauces, toppings, and spreads. It's easy to go a hundred or more calories over the line with calorie-rich stuff like salad dressings, mayo-based sandwich fillings, and cheese. I haven't dined out much since I've started my plan, but when I did, I rounded up the calorie info on the restaurant's web site to the nearest hundred just in case the cook was generous.

For the meal you ate, there really weren't many ingredients on which the chef could've gone over the line. You might've gotten an extra few calories of balsamic glaze or a couple of broccoli florets more than 470, but nothing that would've distorted the "official" calorie count wildly.

Major congratulations to you for negotiating the IHOP menu so successfully!
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:58 PM   #4
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In the future, you can always get the stuff that may be measured a little more heavy handed on the side. You can always ask for cheese/mayos/dressings on the side. That really helps me.
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:11 PM   #5
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That's a really good thought (dressings/cheese/spread on the side)! My husband worked as a chef for a few years and told me that special requests were really common; he never minded honoring them.

Well, there was the woman who didn't want her eggplant floured because she was swearing off white flour, but then blew a gasket because it didn't have breadcrumbs on it and she acted like they were trying to poison her with a breadcrumbless eggplant slice...haha! But that's about the only special request that the kitchen staff actually mocked. And I don't blame 'em.
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:12 PM   #6
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Well, gee. There is absolutely no way to know whether the particular helping of foods that you ate has the exact amount of calories that the label or nutrition information says. This is true of canned food, Lean Cuisine meals, restaurant meals, cereals, you name it. All of the numbers are averages, or if not, they are calculated based on averages. So the best you can do is assume that the data is correct and use the calorie count given.

It may be more, it may be less, but eventually it will all even out.

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Old 11-07-2010, 01:00 AM   #7
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The calorie count at TGIFridays doesn't seem accurate either.. I was looking at the dessert menu a few months ago and it says their red velvet cake WITH a side of vanilla ice cream (which is supposedly light) is only like 300 calories. YEAH RIGHT!! It's a decent sized piece of cake, and the scoop of ice cream alone is 150 calories. I'm so sure a piece of cake is 150 calories from a chain restaurant :P
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:10 AM   #8
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I don't think you mean TGIFridays? I haven't seen red velvet cake on their menu... and they don't list calorie counts online. Or perhaps you're in a state that requires calorie counts? But I think you're right--no way is that 300 calories.

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Old 11-07-2010, 07:04 AM   #9
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I usually add 100 calories to what ever the website says. I figure that will just about cover any discrepency.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:35 AM   #10
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We've had these lists in CA restaurants for quite awhile, and you have to read them very carefully. I have noticed a lot of them put in very teeny tiny letters, "without dressing" "without sauce" without without without. So they are pretending to be honest but in a way they hope you don't notice
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Old 11-07-2010, 01:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayEll View Post
I don't think you mean TGIFridays? I haven't seen red velvet cake on their menu... and they don't list calorie counts online. Or perhaps you're in a state that requires calorie counts? But I think you're right--no way is that 300 calories.

Jay
Yep, they're required by law to have the calories on the menu in NY. They've had that dessert for a while here now, but I don't believe their calorie estimate!
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Old 11-07-2010, 01:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulaM View Post
We've had these lists in CA restaurants for quite awhile, and you have to read them very carefully. I have noticed a lot of them put in very teeny tiny letters, "without dressing" "without sauce" without without without. So they are pretending to be honest but in a way they hope you don't notice
It's a joke, isn't it! Without bun, without sides.. the best is when they only show you the nutritional info for half of the food they serve you! I don't trust restaurant food, especially since it's loaded up with so much salt
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