Watching what you eat: Some restaurants make counting calories easy

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Counting calories helped me christoph in vegas 2014
Counting calories helped me get to this weight. This is a picture of me outside of Las Vegas in early 2014. Click on the picture for more on the trip.

I love to eat, which got me to 330 pounds in the first place. Counting calories wasn’t on my list of things to do at all. Until I looked at pictures of myself. Ouch. Gross. I look like that? How can I get that changed? My diet included counting calories and starting to exercise. Still, I eat lunch out a lot and once in a while catch a dinner at a restaurant. Can dieting and eating out mix? Sure! Some businesses make counting calories easier than others.

Before we get to that, you might be wondering why so many posts are about food on this weight loss site. A few reasons:

  • We do have to eat to survive.
  • In contrast we do not have to exercise to survive. (Though it’s helpful!)
  • Eating healthy, tracking foods and calories is hugely important to lose weight. We could workout for hours every day, but if we eat the wrong things or too much, the workouts were not nearly as effective as they could have been.

Counting Calories While Eating Out

Low-calorie menus

Eating out can be a fun family activity, you might be going on a date or it’s a business event. Whatever the reason we are eating out, it’s good to enjoy ourselves but it’s also important to not overeat and negate the most recent workout.

I love going to restaurants that allow me to see how many calories each menu item has. Keep in mind that some businesses that do this might only serve higher-calorie foods. In those instances, my decision usually is to not eat there. I seek out the restaurants that have lower-calorie options and specifically call them out with names like an “Under 450 calories” menu or something along those lines.

Some restaurants – especially national ones – also are listed in apps that are counting calories for you, for example the MyFitnessPal app. Open the app and type in the restaurant’s name, followed by the name of the menu item, chances are it will probably be listed.

Typing in all those meal options can take time and can hurt the social aspect of the meal, so I prefer to just go to the “Under 450 Calories” or similarly named part of the menu.

The first time I looked up a regular menu item I learned that the dinner I was about to order had 1,980 calories. Wowser. That’s more calories than I’m supposed to consume all day. If I ever do order that kind of meal, I eat a quarter to a half of it and take the rest home for a later meal. Keep in mind that this strategy can be harder to accomplish than it sounds. The food is right in front of us. It takes and smells great. But sorry, I’m going to pack up half of it for later. Just writing that made me hungry.

But do those low-calories meals taste good? The ones I have had did. Interestingly, I do often make the comment to whomever I’m with: “This is actually really good.” Why? I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps I identify higher calories with better tasting? Or perhaps, it’s a subtle way to encourage others to think about getting something off the low-calorie menu the next time.