The Baltimore Sun's new calo-count finder debuted on Tuesday, just when you were getting sloppy with your resolutions. The database compiles calorie counts from chain restaurants like Applebee's, Five Guys and IHOP.
Check it out here.
And also take a look, if you haven't already, at my roundup, in photo gallery form, of 10 Baltimore restaurant meals that passed my test for healthy eating. This feature, which appears in Wednesday's Taste section, includes detailed information about calories, fat carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
I hope you find it useful. There may not be universal consensus about what constitutes healthy dieting but I've arrived at what I believe are general points of agreement. They guided my choices more than numbers did.
Eat good food. Robert S. Lawrence, founder of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that diners should focus on eating in good restaurants that prepare healthy dishes made from whole foods. The good news is that there are more of them.
Similarly, don't eat bad food. You know what the bad foods are; avoid them. Order much less food that's fried in bad oils, take it easy with the bread basket and limit your alcohol intake. Avoid processed foods. Give up bottled soda for good.
Don't eat everything. If there's one healthy eating practice that even good restaurants have been slow to implement, Lawrence says, it's cutting back on portion size. Until restaurants start trimming back on portion sizes, Lawrence says, "diners will have to exercise some discipline at the table." There's always the doggie bag.
Vary it up. A few of the calorie counts in this feature might frankly raise some eyebrows. They might be high in calories but they're not high in fat and pack a lot of protein and dietary fiber. And they're defensible, I think, on the principle that a varied regimen is easier to stick with over the long haul, at least for some people. For others, the specificity of a rigorous regimen is what keeps them in line. I'm all for publishing calorie information, though -- it's worth knowing that the IHOP Chicken and Spinach salad is 1600 calories
The best diet, or regimen, is the one you can stick to. If you're a number cruncher, then you might find success with a number-driven regimen. If you're not, you may find a calorie-counting regimen a tough row to hoe.