After posting my Wellness Wednesday feature yesterday, someone commented on this photo that I put up on facebook:
It was a great illustration of how clueless we are when we eat food, especially restaurant food. We usually have no idea how many calories we're consuming, nor do we know how foods compare to our daily recommended intake, nor do we realize how long our bodies take to burn calories (especially those of us who lead sedentary lives).
I got thinking about the latest restaurant in our community, the Olive Garden, and how excited residents were to have this new chain outlet so close to home. After perusing the online Olive Garden menu, it reminded me how bad this restaurant is for our community. Here's an example:
Someone hankering for a classic meal of fettuccine Alfredo will consume a whopping 1220 calories and 75 grams of fat (of which 47 grams are saturated fat) at dinner. If that same person decided to have dessert as well, the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake will set him or her back 890 calories and 62 grams of fat (36 saturated). These two items already exceed the daily recommended calories and fat for an entire day for an average-sized women who leads a sedentary life. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center's online calculator, such a woman should not exceed 53 grams of fat per day. Just one of these dishes already exceeds that. According to Livestrong, depending on age and activity level, women should consume between 1600 and 2400 calories per day. Less active women should consume even fewer calories. And I haven't even approached the topic of appropriate sodium intake.
So if someone showed restraint and only consumed the entree and the dessert (meaning no appetizer, no salad, no bread, and no calorie-containing beverage), they would likely have consumed more than the calories and fat recommended for that day: 2110 calories and 137 grams of fat. Breakfast and lunch would have to be skipped to stay somewhat within recommended calorie intake levels. Of course, individuals don't have clean their plates; doggie bags are always available. However, how often do we do that? Most of us push ourselves to eat that last bite because, well, it just takes so good.
The occasional treat is fine, but I often see people returning again and again to restaurants with meals that have similar calorie counts. I suggest you go to the Olive Garden's nutrition facts page (or check out any chain restaurant's menu online) to see for yourself how out of whack the calorie and fat contents are for typical American restaurants.