When Dining Out, Is Ignorance Bliss … or Bad For Your Health?

I had lunch this week in a well-known restaurant chain where I hadn’t dined in some time. I noticed that they now list the calorie content of every item on their menu. I was shocked to learn that what would have likely been my first selection had between 1,200-1,900 calories – a full day’s worth of calories for some!

I had lunch this week in a well-known restaurant chain where I hadn’t dined in some time. I noticed that they now list the calorie content of every item on their menu. I was shocked to learn that what would have likely been my first selection had between 1,200-1,900 calories – a full day’s worth of calories for some!

My initial reaction was disappointment, feeling that I would have rather just selected what seemed most appealing and enjoyed my meal without having to think about the impact it would have on my metabolism and waistline. I momentarily longed for a bygone decade when I would have just ordered whatever I wanted on a menu without a second thought about calories, fat and sugar. But were those really the “good old days” or was my ignorance potentially leading me down a path to an early demise or a life of chronic illness? 


Once I snapped back to the present, I was grateful and humbled by the information presented to me. To think that, with an appetizer, drink, entrée and dessert I could feasibly have consumed almost a week’s worth of calories without realizing it! It was a very sobering experience. It is interesting to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been directed to create a new national standard for menu labeling for fast food and certain restaurant chains (those with 20 or more locations). This is a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

I am conscientious about what I eat and am certainly well aware of good nutrition basics. But when eating out, one really has no idea exactly how the food is prepared, what has been added or in what quantity, how big the portion size is, and so on. In my case, the listing of calories next to each entrée helped me to make a healthier choice for myself. I scanned the menu for items under 500 calories (this was for lunch) and was able to find something appealing. Of course, calories alone are not the only consideration in making healthy food choices as some of us want/need to restrict sodium, salt and saturated fat too. One of the “under 500” menu items I saw consisted of all high fat foods so I passed on that one. You also have to use common sense.

I’m sure some people would just as soon not know any of this information and will likely ignore or disregard it. And even with the calories listed on a menu, I know I will occasionally order something that I really love with a higher calorie or fat content, too. But at least I’ll be clear on where I stand and know how I have to eat for the rest of the day or week to compensate for it. I do love to eat well, but also want to stay fit, healthy, agile, and keep my weight under control.

So bring it on, restaurants of America. The sooner every restaurant lists nutritional information, the sooner we can all get a better handle on what we’re eating and be able to make better, healthier meal choices. 

Have you ever gotten to the last little bit of a vegetable or fruit and thought they only thing left to do was toss it? Or maybe you didn't get to one before it looked like it should be thrown out? Well there's no need to create more food waste! Here are two foods you can regrow right at home instead of throwing out.

Leftover Ginger

  1. Fill a bowl or cup with water and place your bit of ginger root inside.
  2. After a few weeks, watch for little sprouts to form.
  3. At this point, transfer the ginger to some potted soil. Give it plenty of space and moisture.
  4. After a few weeks, harvest your new ginger root!

Sprouted Potato

  1. Note where the sprouts (or eyes) are on the potato. Cut it in half so there are sprouts on both halves.
  2. Let the halves dry out overnight on a paper towel.
  3. Plant the dried potato halves in soil, cut side down.
  4. Small potatoes will be ready to harvest in about 10 weeks, while larger potatoes will be ready in about three to four months.

There's no need for food waste here when you know the tips and tricks to use up all your food at home. And click here to see which foods you can keep past the Sell By date!