How to Understand Menu Language for Healthy Dining
Dieters must know how to translate menu descriptions to yield clues to the fat and calorie contents of a dish. Restaurant portion sizes have more to do with controlling operation expenses than with balancing nutrients. Most restaurants use standardized ladles, spoons, cups, and scoops, and their capacity is generally larger than what you would use at home. Some typical institutional measures are:
Salad dressing ladle = 1/4 cup
Pat of butter = 2 teaspoons
Scoop of ice cream = 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Burger = 6 to 8 ounces
Meat, poultry, or fish = 8 to 12 ounces
Beverages: small = 2 cups, medium = 4 cups, large = 6 cups
Theater popcorn: small = 4 cups, large = 10 cups, jumbo = 15 to 20 cups
Wine = 6 to 8 ounces
When reading the menu, the Grande taco salad served in a crispy tortilla shell, topped with lean sautéed ground beef may sound like a good choice to a dieter. But the words grande, crispy, and sautéed tell you that this is no low-cal salad. In fact, it contains about 700 calories! If you’re restricting your intake to 1,200 calories a day, do you really want to get more than half your calories from a single dish?
Following are the most commonly used menu words that speak volumes — calorically, that is.
Lots of fat:
Crispy and crunchy (except when describing raw vegetables)
Huge portion sizes: