Friday, December 18, 2009

When Diet Food Isn't

I think it’s safe to say that most of us eat out at least a couple times a week, for either lunch or dinner.  So what choices we make are very important, especially when we are thinking about losing or at least not gaining any weight.  Here’s some food for thought:

“I’ll have a salad please”

Caesar salad
What 1010 calories and 76g of fat looks like

You are being so good, having a salad for lunch.  Maybe you even remembered to order the dressing on the side.  But be careful; not all salads are created equal.  For example:  a BBQ Chicken Salad at Applebees has a whopping 1360 Calories (that’s not a typo, that’s one thousand three hundred and sixty) with 21 grams of fat.  Hardly diet food.  And a Chicken Caesar Salad at Chilis?  1010 calories with 76 (seventy six) grams of fat.  That Cobb at Mimi’s Cafe?  1121 calories and 95g of fat.  You would actually be better off, calorie wise, to go with a McDonald’s Big Mac at only 540 calories and 29g of fat, or have their cheeseburger for a mere 300 calories and 12g of fat.  Add a small fry, 248 calories and 13g fat, and you’d still be under the calories and fat of that virtuous salad.  Now that said, the veggies of the salad may trump the fat and especially the saturated fats of the burger…but you get the idea that you have to be careful not only of what kind of salad you order…but how your order it.

A cobb salad
Here's 1121 Calories and 95g fat

“Dressing on the side” – should be your mantra.  Yet, the other day, while having a quick lunch, I noticed that many of the people who ordered the dressing on the side proceeded to dump the entire contents of that side dressing on their salad.  That simply defeats the purpose and the result is you are consuming as many, and possibly more calories and fat then if you had just ordered your salad “lightly dressed.”  Tablespoon for tablespoon, salad dressing is calorie heavy.  One tablespoon of Ranch Dressing has 73 calories and 7.7g of fat, Italian? 43 calories and 4.2g fat.  Caesar? 78 calories with 8.5g fat.  That’s on average, but the bottom line is you want to use dressings sparingly.  The best method?  Dip the tines of your fork into the dressing, then grab some salad on it, and eat it.  You get the full flavor of the dressing and use very little.

Another place you need to be very careful is that visit to the salad bar.  Lettuce is pretty much a freebie, but once you start adding those salad bar extras, that lean meal gets pretty fat.  Olives, eggs, cheese, nuts, bacon, all add up pretty quickly.  And any salad that is pre-made, especially those that contain mayonnaise, well, you know where those extra calories are going to end up…yep…on your hips with a side to your waist and butt.
So remember to be selective in your salad choices.  If you want that Caesar for lunch, ask for it to be served with half the cheese (at minimum) and take those croutons off, o.k. you can leave a couple of them on, but get rid of the rest…and order that dressing “on the side” using the tine dipping method.

Here’s a light version of Caesar Salad you can easily make at home.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

LindySez: It’s the way to a slimmer, healthier you.

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