Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Food! You are a friend, but mostly a foe

Counting calories has never been a big deal for me. When you're just counting points or calories, you can pretty much eat whatever you want. If I'm allotted 1,100 calories per day, I could even eat a gigantic slab of cheesecake with hot fudge and pecans, which runs about -- you guessed it -- 1,100 calories. So as long as I'm OK with not eating anything else that day, then bon appetit!

My program is not that easy. I have to keep my fat percentage under 20 percent, and I'm amazed at how limiting that is. Forget about all the obvious things: rich desserts, greasy foods like fries and pizza, pretty much anything with cheese in it. But even seemingly harmless things like tuna (mixed with too much low-fat mayo), red meat (that's not lean enough), even Ritz crackers can be a danger.

It's tricky, and it's required me to get creative with my meals. Especially when I go out.

On a diet, you still have to be social. You still have to be able to pick up quick meals on the go. So I thought I would share some of my research with you.

Let's talk about food!

1. Subway. It's the obvious suggestion, so let's get it out of the way. The nutrition info is plastered right on the sneeze-guard. So use it. It's helpful.

2. The Pita Pit. They have a LOT of food that will meet a variety of dietary restrictions. My personal favorite is the chicken pita with veggies and tzatziki sauce. You can go to the restaurant with your order in hand by visiting their website first. You can build your pita with toppings, and it gives you nutrition information as you go.

3. Applebees. Sometimes you'd rather go to a sit-down restaurant and have someone bring you food. Applebees has their under 550-calorie Weight Watchers endorsed menu, which is so helpful. For someone like me who's tracking fat, too, however, you'll want to visit their website with nutrition info. Unfortunately, the steak dishes are too high in fat to work for me. But they have great pasta dishes and a shrimp and rice dish that are delicious.

4. Panera Bread. A restaurant with the word "bread" in the title -- especially when it's as wonderful as Panera's bread -- probably wouldn't jump out as healthy. And certainly, like all restaurants, you can find many things that won't work for your diet. But there's lots that will. I love the Nutrition Calculator on the website that lets you build your meals and get the numbers before you go. May I suggest the vegetarian black bean soup? It's one of my favorites.

5. Noodles. I love Noodles. It's one of my favorite places. And there are various things I can have, especially if I opt for the small size portions (which aren't that small). I love the Japanese Pan Noodles with shrimp or grilled chicken. (The shrimp is zero fat and only 35 calories, by the way.) And the Bangkok Curry, which has a lovely coconut flavor, is one of the lowest-calorie items on the menu as far as the actual noodle dishes go. My favorite thing to order is the regular size Chinese Chop Salad with shrimp. All together, with dressing and everything, it's only 345 calories, and there is a ton on the salad. Lots of crunchy stuff, which is a must. You can find lots more nutrition info on their website.

More food later!
For now, must exercise ...

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