Health & Fit Can you trust the calorie counts on menus at your favorite restaurants?

20:41  11 october  2017
20:41  11 october  2017 Source:   TODAY

What to do If You Can't Understand a Menu

  What to do If You Can't Understand a Menu For those who don't speak a second or third language, it can throw up barriers in many places, from airport signage to check-in desks at small hotels, and, almost certainly at restaurants. "If you don't speak the language, it can be intimidating to read and order from [some] menus," says Sharon Schweitzer, international etiquette expert and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. "Whether you have an allergy—to, say, peanuts—that you must avoid, or you're a just picky eater who can't handle spicy peppers, you might be worried about ordering from a menu from which you can't read every word or understand the description.

Are you surprised to learn the number on the menu or display board at your favorite restaurant may not be accurate? I am just so happy every time I see some restaurants at least trying to offer healthier choices and actually put calorie count on the menu .

Many calorie counts at restaurants are off by as many as 420 calories . Over half of “low calorie ” dishes researchers analyzed had more calories than the chain restaurant claimed. You may not see calories on your menus yet, but be prepared for it to become the norm.

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In his new book, "Rossen To the Rescue: Secrets to Avoiding Scams, Everyday Danger, and Major Catastrophes,'' TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen relates his personal weight-loss struggle and reveals how he lost nearly 30 pounds.

What to do If You Can't Understand a Menu

  What to do If You Can't Understand a Menu For those who don't speak a second or third language, it can throw up barriers in many places, from airport signage to check-in desks at small hotels, and, almost certainly at restaurants. "If you don't speak the language, it can be intimidating to read and order from [some] menus," says Sharon Schweitzer, international etiquette expert and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. "Whether you have an allergy—to, say, peanuts—that you must avoid, or you're a just picky eater who can't handle spicy peppers, you might be worried about ordering from a menu from which you can't read every word or understand the description.

You may avert your eyes from them, or purposefully cover them up when you ’re scanning the menu at your favorite restaurant , but increasingly, they’re hard to ignore — the unsettling number of calories in the meal you ’re about to consume.

Begininng in May, restaurant menus will have to contain the calorie counts for all food items. | Menus for your favorite chain restaurants will soon contain more than just price, a description and a pretty yummy-looking picture.

Rossen continues to weigh himself every morning and, like millions of Americans, reads food labels closely, including the calorie counts on restaurant menus. But just how reliable are those numbers?

The Rossen Reports team visited popular restaurants, including Cheesecake Factory, Panera Bread, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Applebee's, Outback Steakhouse, California Pizza Kitchen, Shake Shack and Chick-fil-A, and ordered one dish off each of their menus. But instead of eating the food, they sent it a certified food testing lab to see if the actual calorie counts corresponded to the ones listed on the menus. The results were revealing.

NBC News reached out to the restaurants for their response to the results. Shake Shack did not respond, but the others did.

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  Applebee’s and IHOP Will Close 100 Locations <p>Further evidence that mid-level chains are struggling</p>It’s no secret that mid-level chain restaurants are having a tough go of things lately, and here’s more evidence to add to that file: More than 100 Applebee’s locations and around 20 IHOPs will shutter this year, CBS reports.

Master the Menu at Your Favorite Restaurants . By Priscilla Torres. 15 Pictures That Prove Calorie - Counting Won’t Always Help You Lose Weight.

And since Americans get approximately 35 percent of their daily caloric intake from food eaten in restaurants , knowing just how many calories are in restaurant food is vital—which is why posting calorie counts on restaurant menus is a good idea. But can we trust those calorie listings?

Chick-fil-A told NBC News "there is some natural variation in calorie counts and other nutritional information" and that each sandwich may differ "based on factors like the exact size of the chicken breast and the amount of breading."

Applebee's said they have "robust programs to maintain consistency" when preparing food and "regularly conduct ... sample testing across the country in an effort to continually improve."

Red Lobster said they "strive for consistency," telling NBC News, "we appreciate you bringing this to our attention." In response to this report, they revised their menu, saying, "We have changed our nutritional information on this item."

Nutritionist Keri Glassman told Rossen, "If the calories are going to be there, they should be accurate."

The FDA gives restaurants leeway: There's no regulation on how much the calories listed on a menu can vary from what's actually in the dish — they only have to be "reasonable." Most of the restaurants say they calculate calorie counts based on an average.

How to Lose a Pound a Day While Eating Your Favorite Foods .
You embrace vegetables. You choose skim milk over half-and-half.&nbsp;Take the humble burger. If you make your patty with ground beef; top it with lettuce, tomato, a couple of slices of cheese, and a big squirt of ketchup; and plop it in a regular bun, that’s a 570-calorie meal. If, instead, you make your burger with 95 percent lean ground beef, replace the cheese with sautéed onions or mushrooms, and use less ketchup, you can slash 332 calories—without sacrificing any taste. Or consider the restaurant menu at TGI Fridays: The ten-ounce Jack Daniel’s sirloin has 130 more calories than the ten-ounce grilled sirloin. Why? Extra carbs in the sauce.

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