Monday, March 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Diners Beware Part 1

If you read my Meatless Monday post last week, you know about the sticker shock I received when I downloaded the pdf of nutritional data for IHOP’s menu. I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled programming to demonstrate just how limited the  options are for dining out “fast casual” at a chain venue. 

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the health care reform legislation into law. According to information available on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration site: Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards. Other nutrient information — total calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein — would have to be made available in writing upon request. 

While most major chains already provide a downloadable pdf containing all such data for all their items, the pdf is not always easy to find. Furthermore, the information is sometimes available for each item individually instead of in list form, and often the data for sodium content is missing.

I’ve tried to make it easy for you. For the next three Mondays I plan to post the best links I can find to the nutritional data for menu items at a number of chains. This week it’s Breakfast, Coffee, Donuts, and Ice Cream. The lists will be alphabetical. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, but you’ll get the idea. 

The daily calories required to maintain a healthy weight vary by a number of factors including sex, age, and activity level: a moderately active young woman requires approximately 2,000 calories per day. The American Heart Association recommends that EVERYONE limit daily sodium consumption to 1500 milligrams (less than 3/4 teaspoon of salt), and that the aforementioned woman limit her saturated fat to 20 grams or less, and her total fat to between 50 and 70 grams per day. 

If you comb through this data carefully you should find a few not so bad choices. [You’re in luck if you are looking for coffee.] In general, though, “Read’em and weep,” as my dad would say:

Bruegger’s Bagels: 
Coffee and…
Caribou Coffee: 
Facts available for individual items on their site (without mention of sodium): 
Complete menu facts available here (without mention of sodium): 
Dunkin Donuts (without mention of sodium):  
Krispy Kreme:   
Starbucks Beverages (without mention of sodium): 
Starbucks Food Items (without mention of sodium): 
Tim Horton:
Ice Cream and Desserts:
Baskin Robbins:
Facts available for individual items on their site:
Complete menu facts available here (without mention of sodium): 
Ben & Jerry’s:
Cheesecake Factory:
Coldstone Creamery:
Facts for individual items on their site:
Complete menu facts available here (without mention of sodium):
Dairy Queen:
Friendly’s Ice Cream (ice cream menu):
Have a good week. I hope I haven’t ruined it for you. But you can’t save the planet if you’re not around…

I try to blog on food or food issues each Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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