Secrets of Restaurant Nutrition
What you need to know about nutrition and food safety in your favorite restaurants.
Watch the Seafood
Be picky about seafood. Chef and author Anthony Bourdain clued foodies in to
an unwritten restaurant secret -- never eat seafood on Mondays -- in Kitchen
Confidential. That's because many restaurants, except a select group that
specialize in fresh seafood, don't get deliveries over the weekend. And seafood
deteriorates much more rapidly than meat and poultry.
Carvel Grant Gould, executive chef at Atlanta's Canoe, adds another warning.
"I reject stuff all day long, and then they sell it to somebody else,"
she says. "You ought to eat your seafood in a place that's very
You can't check out a cooked piece of fish as you would a raw filet in the
supermarket, but you can still evaluate it for freshness. When the plate comes
to your table, smell the seafood. If it smells fishy, or of ammonia, it's not
Foods High in Sodium
Foods prepared in restaurants as well as packaged foods are often high in
sodium, even those that seem healthier. A McDonald's Premium Southwest Salad
With Grilled Chicken and Newman's Own Creamy Southwest Dressing has more sodium
(1,300 milligrams) than a Big Mac (1,040 milligrams).
Sodium counts can be higher at dinner-house chains, where the portions are
often large. An order of grilled pork chops at Romano's Macaroni Grill contains
3,540 milligrams of sodium, more than double the amount most adults should eat
in a day. A child's portion of macaroni and cheese comes in at 1,980, according
to the restaurant's web site.
Check nutrition information if it's available. Some restaurants provide
sodium information or suggest lower-sodium options, even if they don't disclose
complete nutritional data. Outback Steakhouse suggests that guests who want to
cut sodium order salads without croutons or dressings, and get burgers and
sandwiches without cheese, sauces, bacon, and dressings.
If you are trying to control how much sodium you consume while dining out,
the American Heart Association recommends asking that your food be prepared
without salt. It also advises using pepper or fresh lemon juice instead of salt
to season your food. But if the food is prepared in a central facility rather
than in the restaurant's kitchen, you may not be able to get a meal prepared
without added sodium.