If you rely on counting calories on your food labels and restaurant menus, you may be getting more calories than you bargained for according to a study published in this month’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Tufts University researchers examined the accuracy of labels and nutrition facts information on 29 reduced-energy restaurant foods and 10 frozen meals purchased from grocery stores. Total calorie content from the quick-serve and sit-down restaurants averaged 18% more than what was listed on the restaurants nutrition facts. What’s really disturbing though was that there was a large range that averaged out to that 18%. Some individual restaurant items contained up to 200% more than their stated calorie level and with the free side dishes (which some restaurants don’t count in their nutrition facts), these meals contained up to 245% more calories than what was listed.
It’s frozen food month and overall, the frozen meals fared much better – they came in at an average of 8% more calories than what was stated on the nutrition facts panel.
If you are red hot mad and blaming your favorite restaurant for your lack of weight loss progress, hold on just a minute and think about logical this data is. Frozen foods stuffed into a small piece of plastic and slightly larger box are fairly consistent on portion sizes and preparation (thanks to the consistency of machines). However, restaurant chefs and cooks like to make people happy and happiness to them involves butter, grease and yet another tablespoon of dressing.
So, if you eat out but want to watch your waistline, ask how the food is prepared or request that it is prepared a certain way. Oh, and share those meals that are large enough to 2-3 people.