LA Weight Loss - Restaurant Deception

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11-24-2007, 11:30 AM
I found this article in a food blog for the Atlanta area. My apologies to the moderator. I know you guys prefer we post a link, but it was buried in the middle of a blog, so there was no way to do it. I thought everyone might find it interesting:


Sometimes, those “healthy” choices on the menu seem a little too good to be true. The menu says you’re getting X tiny number of calories and you waddle out of the restaurant feeling quite sated, perhaps congratulating yourself for your remarkable self-restraint.

Of course it could be that the restaurant misrepresented the number of calories it actually served you. That’s exactly what a recent study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found, according to the New York Times‘ health blog, Well:

C.S.P.I. sent several dishes served by the chain Olive Garden to a laboratory for nutritional analysis. Although the restaurant doesn’t provide calorie information for most of their foods, three of the items came from the restaurant’s Garden Fare menu, which includes calorie counts.

For two out of three dishes, the restaurant servings exceeded the calorie content promised on the menu. A dish of Linguine alla Marinara, for instance, was supposed to have just 551 calories, according to the Olive Garden Web site. But the C.S.P.I. analysis showed it contained 790 calories, or 43 percent more calories than listed on the menu. A dish of Capellini Pomodoro is listed at 644 calories on the menu, but the restaurant served up 990 calories worth, or 53 percent more. However, the portion of Shrimp Primavera was just about right. The menu promised 706 calories, and the server dished up 690 calories, a difference of just 2 percent.

11-24-2007, 11:34 AM
I think one of the issues is that each person preparing the food uses a different amount of oil and, if it's not important to them, they will splash as much as they feel like, regardless of if its supposed to be "light" or not. I've seen it happen. :( Portion sizes are difficult to regulate in a very busy kitchen and why should they feel like they should be careful, accurate and consistent? I know I would and I did while working as a chef, but most aren't so conscientious.

11-24-2007, 12:07 PM
I worry sometimes that when I visit restaurants I'm not getting quite what I thought I was. The best we can do when we aren't preparing a meal from scratch ourselves is to guesstimate the best we can using our own gathered knowledge and the nutritional content given by the restaurant (if they even have any).

At least I know I'm not just being paranoid now. They really -are- out to "get me" :lol:

11-24-2007, 12:33 PM
I look at dining out as an ultimate challenge. DH and I always split an entrée, but even then I need to use portion control and common sense. As a vegetarian, there often few items on the menu from which to choose. We have gotten much better about asking for custom dishes, modifications, and separated ingredients. If we order something like a pasta or a salad, we usually ask for the sauce/dressing to be served on the side. We always ask how the side of veggies are prepared, and custom order if needed.
This isn't foolproof, but it does help. And common sense really can't be stressed enough. We have actually split a single order into 2 meals AND taken a carry-out container home as well. If there is a layer of visible fat floating on top, it isn't going to be OP, no matter what we do - LOL

11-24-2007, 12:52 PM
In the 1980s, I married a man who also enjoyed eating out and prefered it, even though I am very good cook. What our marriage lacked in emotional intimacy and satisfaction we made up for in "eating out". Since it was one of the few things we agreed on, it became an "unnatural bond" between us.

We divorced after fifteen years of marriage, at my request, and I later learned that he was going behind my back and telling his family members that if I didn't do something about my weight he was going to divorce me. The last time I saw him he too had about 50 extra pounds on his frame.

We gave a lot of business to a lot of chain restaurants that their names are very familiar. I would delude myself today to think that eating out was any thing more than a "diet and health sabotage". Back then I really didn't care about my health and I ate freely. I went from slightly overweight to morbidly obese. I was a very active person (I went hiking in the Rockies at a weight of 242 lbs!!...that's another story) but at my peak I bet I was eating 5000-6000 calories a day!

Fast forward to today. I have a new husband whom I love and enjoy sharing a meal out with. I still eat out but I choose my restaurants carefully. I rarely eat at a fast food restaurant and when I do I walk away hungry. I believe it is because after eating whole foods and lots of fiber refined white food just doesn't satisfy me physically any more. I have gone to McDonald's and within an hour made an sandwich at home!

Since you mentioned that you were a vegetarian I would frequent GOOD (read quality) vegetarian or TRUE Asian or Middle East restaurants. You will find an absence of a lot of the salt and sugar that is present in so much of our processed foods that most restaurant chains serve. I thought I was up on things until I recently heard that there is even sugar in the meat they serve!

Once you train your taste buds you will find most of the restaurants to have a very overly-processed taste to it. And, although I haven't eaten in an Olive Garden in almost five years, unless they have whole wheat pasta now, I wouldn't be interested in eating there.

Instead, I try to make all of the meals for my new husband and I tasty, eye-appealing, healthy and filling. He appreciates it! Eating at home does not have to be boring or tasteless.

11-27-2007, 02:30 PM
It's absolutely fascinating how much deception there is!