Eating out – just what are we eating?

Eating out – just what are we eating?

Brad and I have always enjoyed going out to restaurants. It’s always fun grabbing lunch at a great NJ diner, checking out a new restaurant, or having a few beers while watching a game.  However, this is a task that has become much more difficult since our “lifestyle change” has taken place.  We have significantly cut down on eating out, but we find that we miss going out and enjoying each others company (or a few friends) over a meal that we haven’t “slaved over a hot stove” for.

One night we went to TGIFriday’s to meet a couple of friends for dinner.  I went to the Friday’s website to check out the best choices for dinner and there is NOTHING available.  There are 2 “healthy” items on the entire menu. A “low carb” spicy shrimp dish and a “low fat” spicy chicken dish (with no details on the nutritional value of these meals).  If it’s not difficult enough to eat healthy while out at a restaurant, how is it even possible when a HUGE CORPORATION doesn’t even list their nutrition facts online?

This issue has been a hindrance many of the times we have decided to eat out.  We have found a few great places to go and we have also found some places we will never return to based on nutrition facts alone. An article on CNN.com made me realize this issue is bigger than eating healthy.  Registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, Riska Platt points out, “Every person’s needs are different when it comes to what he or she should eat, health experts say. ‘There are some people that really have to worry about calories, there are some people that really have to worry about sugar, some people that really have to worry about salt.'” While I’m over here complaining about the lack of nutrition facts because I want to eat better, others may be dealing with a much more bigger issues where something such as sodium or sugar intake are critical to their health.

However, after all of the aggravation I have found with this whole situation a little gleam of hope shines through!  The new Health Care Reform bill includes a provision that any American restaurants with more than 20 locations will be required to provide calorie information to customers.  I think this is wonderful news!  An article on Time.com points out that, “Previous research has shown that access to calorie information doesn’t necessarily have a strong impact on adults’ food choices, but it has been shown to influence food decisions that parents make for their children.”  This may be true, but I feel like at least this means children will be getting a chance to learn about healthy eating early on and I know it definitely WILL influence my food choices.

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