Healthy Restaurant Eating

By The Restaurant Dieter

Category: News (page 1 of 7)

Why I am not dieting

About a year ago, I rebranded this website from The Restaurant Dieter to Healthy Restaurant Eating.com. I did not know at the time how wise that decision would be. I’m done with dieting.

And I’m no worse for it.

Yesterday, I weighed in at Weight Watchers. Without tracking and counting Weight Watchers points for two months now, I have remained in the same weight band I have been for the better part of a year.  How have I managed? I have engaged in mindful eating — not at all the same as a diet — and gotten some exercise. I’ve added more nuts to my diet, whenever I feel like it. And I’ve stopped eating when I feel full.

These are the wise conclusions in a revealing new book called “Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss.” Author Sandra Aamodt chronicles her own journey, along with tons of peer-reviewed scientific research that shows why this is a losing battle. Most interesting of all to me is the research that shows the very act of mentally focusing on the weight battle wears us down and results in…more eating.

In a recent column for The New York Times, she wrote:

WHY would dieting lead to weight gain? First, dieting is stressful. Calorie restriction produces stress hormones, which act on fat cells to increase the amount of abdominal fat. Such fat is associated with medical problems like diabetes and heart disease, regardless of overall weight.

 Second, weight anxiety and dieting predict later binge eating, as well as weight gain. Girls who labeled themselves as dieters in early adolescencewere three times more likely to become overweight over the next four years. Another study found that adolescent girls who dieted frequently were 12 times more likely than non-dieters to binge two years later.

How credible is her work? Pretty credible. She has an undergraduate degree in biophysics, a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and four years of post-doctoral research at Yale University, according to her biography. She’s also was the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal, Nature Neuroscience.

And her own journey will sound achingly familiar to those who have struggled with weight their entire lives.

This is no knock on Weight Watchers, which just this year changes to a new emphasis on eating mindfully, exercising and overall health. It’s called “Beyond the Scale.” In fact, though I am not tracking and writing things down, I am eating the way Weight Watchers recommends on its “Simply Filling” plan, which does not require the level of writing things down that the standard points-tracking plan does.

At some point, I might chuck Weight Watchers entirely, but not yet. I like being able to weigh in to keep my mind on my mindfulness, so to speak. And for a person just starting to get serious about living a healthy lifestyle, I’d still recommend it as a splendid way to get acclimated to eating the good food our bodies need more often.

Can a person watching his weight eat at these restaurants that the foodies are honoring?

The James Beard Awards have become the Oscars of the restaurant world in the 30 years the foodie world has doled them out. Atlanta typically fares pretty good — at least in the nominations phase. This year is no exception.

Staplehouse in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward was nominated for Best New Restaurant. I’ve eaten there, although not for a regular review. I was with friends who did all the paying and ordering. It was amazingly well-cooked food, and some of it was healthy if not quite low fat .

For example, a dish of roasted mushrooms, farro piccolo, sunflower and egg was earthy and filling in that way that whole grains are. (A half cup of uncooked farro is 170 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 6 of protein.) But it managed to taste rich and decadent at the same time, thanks to the oozy egg. Our table liked it so much that the host ordered a second. It is still on the constantly changing menu. Most of the rest of what we consumed that night is not, but it was all good.

Among the others mentioned, here’s what I can tell you

The nominees will be narrowed to finalists March 15 with winners announced May 2, according to ajc.com.

Yes, you can eat healthily at the Delta Sky Club. Here’s how.

Finally, something to drink: mint-cucumber water and unsweetened ice tea

Finally, something to drink: mint-cucumber water and unsweetened ice tea.

In my fantasy, a new branch of the Transportation Security Administration has taken over at U.S. airports. Instead of screening for terrorists, it screens for the kind of awful food that repels most people and makes dieters fat.

“Please empty your trucks of all huge cookies over 3 inches in diameter. All of them,” the stern TSA agent says when the restaurant supply truck arrives. “Fast food, too. I’m sorry, but there is no Chick-fil-A allowed beyond the screening point.”

Alas, Delta Airlines is subject to no such screening in real life, so the food at its many Sky Clubs is a mixed bag. The menu has undergone some experimentation in the last year or so, and more healthy choices have been added. I can remember a time when it was pretty much cocktails, beer and wine, soda, salty snacks and cookies.

Vegetables are always welcome

Vegetables are always welcome

The most recent visit took me to the Sky Club on Concourse T of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for an evening flight. The club had recently been renovated. One area had been renovated to look like a little cafe with a buffet.

There were several new choices to cheer:

  • Cucumber and mint water and unsweetened ice tea. So many people have given up any soda, so this is a great addition.

    Hummus

    Hummus

  • Hummus
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower florets, celery sticks, broccoli and baby carrots
  • Lightly salted popcorn
  • Oranges, apples, bananas
  • A Texas caviar made of black-eyed peas and vegetables

Less helpful were:

  • Soft cookies
  • Those incredibly tempting salty snacks
  • The pimento cheese

    The vegetables in this antipasto salad are sitting in a thick coating of fat.

    The vegetables in this antipasto salad are sitting in a thick coating of fat.

  • The soups. Like most commercial soups, they are salty and set that salt craving binge in motion. One bowl and you’re binging the rest of the night.
  • An antipasto salad that was all vegetables, though soaked in a ton of oil

At breakfast, there are now hard-cooked eggs (though strangely perfectly formed and kind of tasteless), better-tasting yogurt and a citrus salad besides the huge, bready and nutritionally vapid bagels.

Hat’s off to Delta for all the changes.

image

Hard-cooked eggs at a Delta Sky Club

 

 

New York’s home of the 1-lb. sandwich, Carnegie Deli, reopens

It’s finally official: Carnegie Deli has reopened. Should we Weight Watchers members or dieters fear that? Nah.

Here’s why.

Is UberEats friendly to folks trying to lose weight?

Getting lunch delivered sounds good, doesn’t it? In the way that Uber has disrupted taxi and limo service, UberEats hopes to do so with lunch delivery. For folks on Weight Watchers or other dieters, there’s nothing to celebrate just yet.

The service is available only in the most moneyed part of Atlanta — basically just south of downtown, up the Downtown Connector, and then up either Ga. 400 to Buckhead and I-85 almost to the Lindbergh area. So if you work in Decatur, you are plain out of luck.

Uber says ordering is “just as easy as requesting a ride.”

  1. Open the Uber app and select the meal icon at the top.
  2. Enter your location and tap VIEW MENU.
  3. Place order and your meal will be curbside in minutes.

For those trying to eat healthy, the menu choices are limited. For example, nothing listed for Feb. 10 was particularly diet-friendly; for Feb. 12, there was an Asian salad that would be OK with the fried won tons removed and only a modest amount of the sesame dressing.

Naturally, there is no fiddling with the menu or the way a dish is prepared. All you can do is watch the weekly offerings and hope for the best.

 

 

New York’s famed Carnegie Deli ‘will reopen in 2016’

Carnegie Deli says it’s determined to reopen in 2016. That message to its adoring fans comes via the restaurant’s website itself and, ironically, the website Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.

“We would like to set the record straight. Carnegie Deli will reopen in 2016. We are ONLY temporarily closed,” according to the report. The midtown New York institution closed in April because of an unauthorized gas hookup and has had a string of troubles since.

Carnegie’s reputation in part comes from superhuman portions  — typically 1 pound of meat per sandwich — and sharing charges that discourage sharing. Yes, I have in fact eaten a whole sandwich there. And yes, the restaurant’s motto is, “If you can finish your meal, we’ve done something wrong.”

Just for sport, The Restaurant Dieter Googled the phrases “Carnegie Deli” and “Weight Watchers” and this is all that came up.

You’d be justifed for wondering how an item about Carnegie turned up on this website. Well, it turns out that Carnegie Deli does in fact have some good salads on the menu. And you can always go with a friend and take the tiniest bite of his Reuben. Heaven.

Weight conscious diners: You must tip generously

When you’re trying to lose weight and eat out a lot, there’s no better friend or foe than the server. He or she can make sure that your requests are relayed to the kitchen and honored.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did an informal survey asking how much people tip. About 550 people voted, with 253 saying 18-20 percent; and 158 saying 20-25 percent.

The Restaurant Dieter is willing to bet that the higher tippers include folks who rely on servers to have their backs. Like the excellent server below.

 

Consumer Reports: What’s under the plastic wrap at your grocery store?

The journalism of Consumer Reports is best in class, takes a lot of money to produce and deserves to be paid for. So The Restaurant Dieter will only hint at the great information in the March 2016 issue. In a major article titled “Under the Plastic Wrap,” Consumer Reports takes on the issue of supermarket and prepared meals and finds:

  • It’s not always fresh and unprocessed as you might assume.
  • It can be salty. Whole Foods’ breaded tilapia has 612 mg of sodium, vs. 733 at Red Lobster and only 420 for Mrs. Paul’s in the frozen aisle.
  • There is no nutritional information on the labels, because the Food & Drug Administration doesn’t require it for fresh prepared foods.
  • There is no information about portion control. With all the great tips for portion sizing suggested by Weight Watchers, this may not matter as much to some.
  • It’s not cheap.

You can support ConsumerReports.org by joining. It’s a mere $35 a year right now and there is information about food online and in every issue of the magazine.

Famous chef David Kinch complains about diners who want changes and substitutions

Eater has a piece this week in which three-star Michelin chef David Kinch complains that on a given night, 80 percent of the dining room can arrive with a dietary limitation for which they request an accommodation.

Kinch is a little more nuanced than is the Eater piece itself. He draws a distinction between those asking because of a dietary restriction vs. a dislike. He seems to indicate that the former is more acceptable to him than the latter. I tend to agree.

I’ve complained before about chefs who don’t want their vision ruined by customers with health concerns and praised those who are flexible. It’s hard to know how much of Kinch’s 80 percent fall into what he regards as valid reasons and how many not. I suspect he doesn’t even know. It just bugs him.

To that I’d say: It bugs me, too. Diabetes and heart disease are no fun, and I’ve got no time for anybody who won’t help me avoid them. So don’t lump me in with the folks who’ve never liked mushrooms. This is real.

Here’s the full Eater interview with him.

 

Research: If you want to eat healthy, don’t eat at a restaurant

A study of restaurants in three American cities showed what we’ve always known: eating out a lot makes you fat. And if you have to eat out, pick the restaurant wisely.

The 2011-2014 study looked at 360 dinner entrees at 123 non-chain restaurants in Boston, San Francisco and Little Rock, Ark., according to Vox.

The study showed that the restaurant entrees had an average of 1,200 calories each, the  website said. Chinese, Italian and American restaurants performed the worst; the best choices were at Greek, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants.

How’s that compare to how many calories we should have? A moderately active adult male 31-50 should have 2,220 a day, and a female in the same age range should have 2,000.

The study appeared in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Calories in dinner entrees at non-chain restaurants

Mexican (1,110)
American (1,451)
Chinese (1,478)
Italian (1,556)
Japanese (945)
Thai (1,163)
Indian (1,250)
Greek (904)
Vietnamese (984)


 

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