Thursday, March 15, 2007

How to Find a Healthy Restaurant Meal

At least if you're in the States.

Partially funded by the Centers for Disease Control a new initiative aims to help consumers make healthier restaurant choices.

The web-based program, Healthy Dining Finder catalogues what it deems to be the Healthy Dining Choices at over 30,000 American restaurants and includes a searchable-by-zipcode tool to help you find what's near you.

Their healthy dining choices are based on a number of criteria - and in a nutshell they are:

  1. Entrees must include a fruit or vegetable
  2. Only lean sources of protein may be used
  3. Only 100% whole grains
  4. Entrees must be 750 Calories or less, with less than 8 grams of saturated fat
  5. Appetizers and desserts must be 250 Calories or less, with less than 3 grams of saturated fat.
So how about if you live in Canada?

Well, you could certainly plug in a fake zip code and get the options at local chain restaurants, but hopefully, in time there'll be something better - maybe even with my involvement.

Coincidentally these past few weeks I've been floating a similar proposal around and have had some significant interest from the government, private industry and some non-profit organizations.

Our criteria would differ slightly from the Americans as I feel theirs are not sufficiently health conscious or sufficiently Calorie conscious.

So until our program's up and running, the Healthy Dining Finder site may help, but I'm guessing if you want to spend a bit of time thinking before you order, you can do pretty well with your own due diligence and the coupling of a solid grounding in healthy eating with a dash of Calorie awareness.

Oh, and don't sit down to a restaurant meal hungry because then you can forget about being reasonable.