Nutrition Month is winding down, but we're still going strong! Today we bring you a list of 8 danger zones that can throw off a healthful eating plan when dining out. But don't worry, we don't stop there. We also offer creative and simple solutions that will help you steer clear of each danger zone.
1. Large meat entrees pack tons of calories.
Look at the calories in these big steaks, offered by many popular steakhouses:
- 14 oz New York: 819 calories
- 12 oz sirloin: 877 calories
- 12 oz prime rib: 1,445 calories
Solution: Choose lean cuts and keep portions to about the size of a deck of cards. That will give you a three ounce serving.
2. Drinks can be calorie bombs.
- Large soda, 26 oz: 330 calories
- King soda, 35 oz: 430 calories
Most people don’t realize how many calories they are consuming when they order a large drink. A shake can have as many as 680-990 calories! Even creamy coffee drinks can pack between 240 and 510 calories. Alcohol is high in calories, too.
Solution: Choose a small soda, unsweetened tea, or water. Although large sodas are often cheap, they really pack too many calories to ever be a healthy choice.
3. An unlimited bread basket can undermine a meal plan, especially when you’re hungry.
Solution: Skip the bread basket and order salad with dressing on the side if you want something to eat right away. Remember, butter has 100 calories per tablespoon.
4. Huge portions can sabotage you.
Look how many calories are in a large meal from the drive-thru...
- Whopper with cheese: 850 calories
- Large fries: 500 calories
- Large soda: 330 calories
- Total 1,680 calories
Solution: Choose a regular sized burger and pair it with a salad (dressing on the side) and a diet soda. These actions will reduce the calories of the meal to about 415 calories... total.
5. Large desserts and baked items are too easy to eat without counting the calories.
Large desserts and baked items usually contain between 500 and 1,000 calories.
Solution: Choose a lower calorie dessert, like fresh fruit or a small scoop of sorbet. Or share one large dessert among multiple people.
6. An all-you-can-eat buffet invites you to stuff yourself with calorically dense foods.
Research has shown that the greater the variety of foods offered at a meal, the more calories are consumed. Most all-you-can-eat buffets contain foods that are laden with sugar, fat, and calories.
Solution: Choose an all-you-can-eat salad bar and go low-fat!
7. Going out when you’re hungry can prompt you to splurge.
Solution: Eat a small, low-fat snack (like fruit) before you go out. Then you will make better choices because you aren’t starving. You’ll be less likely to overeat.
8. High-fat foods pack on pounds:
Foods that are fried or that contain a lot of fat and cheese usually have about double the calories as their plain, low-fat counterparts. For example, two ounces of French fries pack a hefty 174 calories, but a two-ounce baked potato has only 52.
Solution: Try to select restaurants where baked and grilled items are a specialty. Avoid foods with a lot of fat or cheese.
Download a free PDF of this handout here. For more dining out resources, check out the featured products below!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.