Eat this, not that!
This optional assignment is worth 10 extra credit points. I highly recommend that you complete it. It is informative, easy, and fun!
• Become aware of just how many Calories are lurking in your favorite restaurant meals.
• Identify how you can reduce the amount of Calories in meals by making small ingredient substitutions.
Eat this, not that
You may have heard of a popular weight-loss concept known as “Eat this, not that,” which is based on the book Eat This, Not That! by David Zinczenko. Rather than asking people to count every Calorie and gram of fat that they consume, which for the average person is much too time consuming and difficult to follow, his book suggests simply focusing on choosing certain more healthy foods over similar yet less healthy foods. By doing so, it is possible to significantly reduce your daily intake of fat, especially saturated and trans fats, Calories, and sodium (salt), while at the same time getting leaner protein, and more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
The key is to start to recognize the “healthy” and “unhealthy” ingredients in these foods, and how small ingredient substitutions can add up to big savings! Sometimes it is just a matter of choosing a better preparation method (e.g. grilling or baking versus frying), choosing a different condiment or dressing, using whole wheat instead of white, or buying a low fat or nonfat version of the food. Of course, it is also important to pay attention to portion size. Many restaurant meals contain ridiculously large amounts of food!
Assessing a restaurant meal
For this part of the assignment, you will assess a meal that you typically eat out, perhaps at your favorite restaurant, and look at how you can make that meal healthier by using the nutritional information on their website. Try to have fun with this! You may select a meal that you eat either for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Before you begin, please visit the Mayo Clinic ingredient substitutions page to find suggestions for making healthier choices.
• Mayo Clinic ingredient substitutions page
Answer the following questions in a document. You will submit the completed document in the Assignment 6 dropbox when you are done.
1. Consider where you like to go to eat out. Come up with 5 different places and then write down their names. Next, try to find their websites, and look for their nutritional information. For each of your 5 places, tell me whether or not they had a website and how easy it was to find nutritional information there.
2. If none of your 5 restaurants has a website with good nutritional information, then you will need to select somewhere else for this next part. Most of the major fast food and restaurant “chains” (e.g. Starbucks, Subway, and McDonalds) have good nutritional information on their websites, and some even have “meal builders” to help you modify your meal choices. Find a place that has a website with good nutritional information, and then tell me what it is. You will use this restaurant for the rest of this part of the assignment.
3. Write down the content of your typical meal from this restaurant. It can be either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is your choice! Be sure to be specific in your meal description. Include sizes, drinks (including refills), specifications (e.g. cheese on a burger), and condiments (including ketchup packets!).
4. Now, determine the nutritional content of your meal by looking at the restaurant’s website information. Be sure to include the amount of Calories, total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat for each food item, and the total amount of each for the entire meal. For example, you would report the nutritional content of burger, fries, ketchup, and drink as four separate food items, and then combine them as the entire meal. Feel free to also include other nutritional information (e.g. salt, protein, etc.), if you wish.
5. What is the total amount of Calories in your meal? What is the total amount of fat in your meal? What is the total amount of saturated fat in your meal? What is the total amount of trans fat in your meal? Remember that saturated fat is the one that you should especially look out for, and all trans fat, no matter how much, is bad for you!
6. Now let’s consider whether or not you are eating an appropriate amount of Calories in your meal. Do you know how many Calories you should be eating each day? Many nutritionists say that the average woman should be eating about 2,000 Calories per day, and the average man should be eating about 2,500 Calories per day, in order to maintain his or her weight. If you are trying to lose weight, you should be eating less than that. There are lots of websites out there that help you to calculate your appropriate caloric intake for each day by taking into account your age, physical attributes (e.g. height, weight, etc.), and level of physical activity. Feel free to search out and use one of those websites, or just use one of the numbers that I have suggested as a starting point for either men or women. How many Calories do you feel that you should be getting each day?
7. Now let’s compare your meal out to your total caloric intake for the day. What percentage of your daily Caloric intake is taken up by this one meal?
• Example: if your meal had 700 Calories, and your allowable intake for the day is 2,500 Calories, then you need to divide 700 by 2,500 and then multiply by 100 to get the percentage. 700 divided by 2,500 is 0.28 which multiplied by 100 is 28, or 28%.
8. Consider the fact that you will likely eat two more big meals that day (and that lunch and dinner are typically larger than breakfast), along with some snacks. Do you think that eating this meal out still keeps you on track to not exceed your daily caloric intake, or did the meal have too many Calories? How was your fat intake? Keep in mind that you should only be eating about 50-90 grams of total fat for that entire day, depending on your total Caloric intake, and only 15-20 grams of that should be saturated fat.
9. Take a look at the restaurant’s website again, and suggest some food or drink substitutions that would help to lower the amount of fat and Calories in your meal.
“Food” for thought
We did not take into account the amount of sodium (salt) in your meal, but that is of course also a major concern. Although many restaurants are trying to offer meal options with lower Calories, the amount of salt in their food remains very high. This is mainly due to the fact that processing of food often robs it of its flavor, and thus they need the salt to make their food taste good. Please read the article on the following webpage.
• Are ‘healthy’ fast food options really better for you?
Here are some practical suggestions for eating healthier and reducing your caloric intake:
• Try recording everything that you eat and drink, and your physical activity, for at least a week, or even better, a whole month. You may be surprised by how the simple act of writing everything down changes your habits for the better. It also helps you to become aware of your habits.
• Consider the cost of eating out versus eating your own meals prepared at home. Keep a record of your spending for each of those two categories and see how they compare at the end of the month. You may be shocked at how much less you spend on food when it is prepared at home. Take these home-prepared meals with you in a small cooler to work or school. You will not only save money, but will likely eat much more healthy, and have more energy throughout your day.
• When eating out, consider sharing a meal or splitting it in half, taking half of it home. Eat the rest the next day or freeze until it sounds good again. Restaurant portions are often ridiculously large! As you very well may have found in this activity, one of these meals can easily consume 50% to 75%, or more, of your daily allowable intake of Calories.
• For a whole week, try to only eat the serving size that is suggested on packaged and processed foods. Compare that to the amount that you typically eat in one sitting. Serving sizes can be very misleading, often making you think that the product has less Calories than it really does.
• Keep in mind that if you are more physically active, you are burning more Calories, and can thus eat a little more. Earn your “treats” by first getting some exercise!
Your Evaluation of the Activity
1. Did the activity help you to discover new ways to improve your eating habits? Are you planning on making any changes in how you eat? If so, what will you change or do differently?
2. Are the directions for the activity clear?
3. What part of the activity was confusing?
4. Include any suggestions you have to improve this activity.
Thanks for your input.
Congratulations! You are now done with this activity.
Submit your document containing your answers to Questions #1-9 in the Assignment 6 dropbox.