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Deciding what to eat when dining out

May 23, 2008 5:30:39 AM PDT
Brown-bag it at lunch, and eat dinner at home, great ways to watch cost and calories. Yet many Americans choose fast food to fuel up.From coffee shops to drive-thrus, we eat more sugar, fat, salt and calories when dining out.

Even the most discriminating health experts grossly underestimate the nutrition facts at restaurants, as menu items can be deceiving.

But with the help of a new nutrition tell all, "eat this not that," consumers can sort out the calorie confusion.

"The typical American goes out 5 to 7 times a week," said dietician Rachel Beller.

Beller says it's important knowing nutrition facts because "to the naked eye look very similar but they're miles apart calorically."

Like healthy-looking Arby's roast beef sandwiches: Due to cheese and sauce, the market fresh roast beef sandwich has twice as many calories as super roast beef sandwich -- 810 vs. 440 calories.

KFC's famous bowl of mash potatoes, corn, gravy and fried chicken has nearly 300 calories more than a plate of crispy chicken, green beans and corn on the cob -- 740 calories versus 470. Which would you choose?

Proving that fresh can still be fattening, Baja Fresh's steak burrito ultimo is 50 calories shy of 1000, 44 fat grams and a day's worth of saturated fat.

Two grilled mahi mahi tacos are a better bet at 460 calories. Lose the chips and save 200 more.

And don't you think salads should signal health? That's not the case from a classic cob from Quiznos. It's 40 calories shy of 1000 and almost all the salt you need in a day. But for 650 calories less, you can get a honey bourbon chicken sandwich with just 4 grams of fat. And chances are you'd be full -- 960 vs. 310 calories.

Beller says check restaurant Web sites for nutrition stats before you dine or ask for them at the restaurant. Most chains have them, and they do make a big fat difference.

"When you show them the calories, literally their jaws just drop. So when one has the nutrition facts in front of them, they are naturally inclined to make better choices," she said.

 

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