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Eating out - How accurate is the nutrition info?

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Old 09-27-2011, 05:35 PM   #1
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Default Eating out - How accurate is the nutrition info?

I'm starting to think it's very UNaccurate! I work doing in-home senior care and one of my clients likes to eat out; nearly every single day. I've explained to her that I'm on a diet and can't eat out every day but it's like the worst offense to her. She has a good retirement and loves to share it with people and always tells me, "you do so much for me, please let me do at least this for you." Food is her way of socializing, bonding, and giving back to people who help her. She can't go out on her own to buy gifts and she's not physically able to do much so dining out and paying for it is the one thing she can do to still feel useful to someone and it makes me feel SO horrible turning her down. We've come to a compromise that I'll eat out with her once a week.

I've been using that meal as my lean and green on the days we dine out. She usually goest places that have a fairly "healthy" menu so it's not terribly hard to find simple things like a piece of baked chicken and veggies. But, today, she opted for a greasy spoon with 3 egg omelets smothered in cheese and filled with all kinds of yummy goodness, hashbrowns, white gravy, toast, biscuits - ya know, all those fabulous things I can't eat anymore, lol. They did have a few salads on the menu so I chose the chicken fajita salad. It was chicken, lettuce, mushrooms, carrots, onions, tomatoes, avacado, and a bit of cheese. It said the calories were only 356 and then I got dressing on the side which was said to be 120 calories. This salad comes out and it's ENORMOUS! I couldn't have eaten it all even if I was going by old habits. I picked out the things that we can't have like carrots. Then for the cheese and avacado, I picked out most of it as well and just used a small portion to count as the healthy fats for the day but I'm betting that this salad had a whole avacado in it and at least a half a cup of shredded cheese. Then of course the lettuce, broccoli, and other greens and the chicken was the L&G.

But, as I'm eating (and I only ate about half, maybe a little less), I'm looking at this and thinking there's NO WAY that it's only 350 calories. I mean, it's LOADED with avacado and cheese and while yes, they are healthy fats, they can also have a lot of calories in that amount. Then, the dressing, I spoon out a portion to put on the salad and it has bacon in it. Big, crispy, yummy, chunks of bacon. I'm not sure exactly what kind of dressing, it was a "homemade" type thing, looked/tasted like maybe a Thousand Island, which I'm sure wasn't light either, base with some Mexican inspired spices and then, of course, the bacon. But, it wasn't just a little side dish it was soup cup sized. I seriously am doubting that it could be only 120 calories.

So, according to the nutrition information of the meal and based on me only eating, at most, half of the salad and one small spoonful of the dressing, I should have gotten away with about a 250 calorie meal but it's bothering me because now that I'm thinking about it, it's more likely that the actual calorie amount would probably be closer to 2x that. I guess an extra 250 calories in a day won't make or break me for the week, especially since it at least wasn't carbs but still; looking at that today really opened up my eyes and made me wonder - just how accurate is the nutrition information that restaurants put on their menus? The whole point of restaurant nutrition information is to HELP fight obesity but what about the people who don't think about it as in-depth as I did and just blindly see 350 calories and say WOO HOO! Healthy! And dive into a gigantic "healthy" salad and unsuspectingly consume 500+ calories in one sitting.
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:18 PM   #2
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Let it gooooooooo.... You did good. You knew what to eat and what to be careful of--the cheese, the dressing, the avocado.

Calorie counts are never 100% accurate, especially at restaurants.

As long as you abided by the spirit of lean & green, it's all OK. Even if you came in at 500 calories for what you ate, it would be OK.

Good for you for following the guidelines at a difficult restaurant!

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Old 09-28-2011, 11:11 AM   #3
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I knew you had to watch for things like dressing or french fries not being included in the calorie counts at restaurants. But, I hadn't thought to much about them getting the serving size wrong. It is kinda tricky for them to giving you calorie count on a salad with 1 Tbs of cheese and then put 1/4 cup on the salad.

It sounds like you did well though. I had an elderly coworker who was the same way about wanting to buy me lunch often. Dining out is going to be tricky for me, I think.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:49 AM   #4
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Thanks Jay, you're right. I made an honest attempt and I guess that's what really counts and considering that my calorie/carb intake was still way lower that pre-MF habits, I guess it's all still a plus.

Maurene, yeah, I just kind of assumed that the serving size was for the whole meal unless otherwise stated, which it wasn't. It wasn't until I really started thinking about it that I realized there was no way that could be right. So, a lesson learned, it's something to definitely watch out for when dining out. But, so far, dining out hasn't been too bad for me. I love fish and my DH hates it so we never make it around our house so anytime we dined out, even before MF, I would always use that time to get my fish fix so I've kind of always done OK as long as we go to actual sit-down restaurants. My big problem was fast food. Constantly running from one clients house to another and never having an actual office or home base to work out of let me hitting the drive thru several times a week. But MF has made that easy. I always carry the bars with me and a few of the shake packets and the shaker jar. Instead of hitting the drive thru I have the bar or I'll stop at a gas station for some cold bottled water and use the shaker jar to mix it up on the go. I love Italian and can't resist fetucinni (sp?) so if we dine out I just try to make sure I stay away from places that will have things I have no will-power against right now. So far it's work out pretty well.
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