Posts Tagged ‘my fitness pal’

Something that I think Americans get very right in restaurants is the publishing of nutritional information on menus. They don’t all do it of course, and on the other side of the coin are the often dangersously gigantic portions, but publishing nutritional info-or even just the calorie content-is a very simple, wonderful idea. I can see the reasons not to of course. Perhaps customers would be less likely to buy the mega burger if they could see that it contains 1500 calories, but even if it was just on a small section of the menu it would make a difference to those of us trying to eat out and watch our weight at the same time.

I can see it coming in over here-albeit slowly. In Strada, for instance, dishes with less than 600 calories are marked, which is helpful, though not as helpful as the accurate figure of course. (Also, it’s a bit scary that the majority of the menu is clearly more than 600 calories-given that 2000 calories is supposedly what the average woman needs daily, you’d think roughly 600 per meal with some left over for drinks and snacks would be normal rather than the ‘low cal’ options?!)

However, there’s an app and website called My Fitness Pal which is brilliant. A friend put me onto it and I have to say, it’s seriously impressive. It doesn’t quite have everything (lots of fibre stats are missing for some reason) but you can look up the vast majority of (chain) restaurant meals, all raw ingredients and most branded ingredients too and get accurate nutritional information which is invaluable if you’re calorie counting or doing WW and need it to work out the ProPoints. The best bit is that it’s free! I don’t know who created it-and presumably does the zillions of updates-but they should be knighted or sainted or something.

Eating out is a dangerous game for a dieter or life long weight watcher. It is far, far easier to stay at home and cook for yourself-and it’s also generally cheaper. But life sometimes-often, even-requires us to eat out and learning to make healthy choices is all part and parcel of the journey. It’s so dull to always opt for salads, and very often they’re so dressing laden that they’re not nearly as healthy as you’d think. Very often the best thing to do is go slightly ‘off menu’-ask for dressing on the side, or swap an ingredient for something healthier, or even ask the waiter what substitutions they’d recommend. I find carbs difficult in restaurants because they’re so often smothered in butter (potatoes in particular) so I often ask for no potatoes/bread and have extra veg instead, then make sure I get some healthy carbs in at home at my next meal. Pasta is tricky because restaurant portions tend to be so generous-asking for smaller portions, again with veg to fill the space on the plate, is quite handy and means you don’t have to exert too much self control by leaving food on the plate.

Though that, I think, is the next lesson I have to learn.

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