Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why you shouldn't just be concerned about calories..

As society is beginning to understand that our diet plays a pretty big role in our health, more and more restaurants are making their nutrition info more readily available.  It is not uncommon to walk into a restaurant and see the calories listed right there on the menu. Many chains are even dedicating a whole section of their menu just for lower calorie options. We applaud these efforts, for they are a step in the right direction. But...

People may be spending too much time worrying about the calorie count, when other sneaky nutrition pitfalls are slipping in under the radar. Granted, knowing that the bacon cheese burger deluxe you are contemplating has 830 calories (about half a day's worth) is worth knowing, but opting for the chicken bruschetta wrap for 480 calories may not be the best option either. Here I will list some other areas you should also be on the look out for!

Fat Content

Now when I say fat, I mean the unhealthy fats like saturated and trans. Unsaturated is good for your health and can help promote healthy weight and prevent heart disease. It is the saturated and trans fats you want to be weary of.

For example, under Denny's Fit Fare menu is their Cali Jack Turkey Burger. This entree is complete with 10 g of saturated fat. That is more than half of the recommendation of consuming no more than 18 g of saturated fat per day.

Sodium Content

Sodium is an essential part of our diet, the problem lies in that the typical American gets far more then they need! This is when conditions such as hypertension and heart disease start to arise. And believe me, just because an entree is listed under the "lower calorie" menu does not mean it has its sodium in check.

Case and point: Applebee's Signature Sirloin with Garlic Grilled Shrimp listed in the "Under 550 Calories/ Weight Watchers" menu. At 490 calories, yes it is on the low side. However with a sodium content of 2420 mg, this is definitely not a "healthy option." The American Heart Association recommend that you should limit your sodium content to under 2000 mg per day. Meaning in just this one sitting, your consuming a whole day's worth of sodium and then some! Need I say more?

Sugar Content

Consuming too much sugar can be a culprit of adding on those extra pounds and you could be doing it unknowingly. Sugar likes to lurk in places where you would least expect it.

OK, with the name Sweet Onion Chicken Teryiaki you might expect it a little. But since Subway post this sandwich under the "Fresh Fit Choices," you may be more likely to overlook it. Coming in at 16 g of sugar for a 6-inch, the name might be something you should have paid more attention to. With 4 g of sugar being 1 teaspoon, this sandwich is the equivalent to 4 teaspoons! And it is recommended that you consume no more that 8 teaspoons of sugar per day, meaning this "fresh fit" decision has cost you half a day's worth of sugar. Hopefully you didn't take those chocolate chip cookies for your side as well...

So next time you are assessing the quality of your take-out meal, don't just stop at the calories. True that excess calories can lead to excess weight, but that is just one piece of the health puzzle. Yet, since most places only list the calories on their menu, your best defense is to come prepared. Do your research before leaving the house by checking out the nutrition facts the restaurant's website and you'll be able to outsmart those undercover diet busters!

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