Entries in Restaurants (7)


12 Secrets the Experts Won’t Tell You About Eating Out

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – ABC’s Good Morning America teamed up with Reader’s Digest on a special series highlighting insider secrets from various service industries. This month, Reader’s Digest’s editor-in-chief  Liz Vaccariello reveals secrets from her book, The Digest Diet, that experts won’t tell you about dining out.

1. Chinese food is really easy to customize, since a lot of dishes are cooked to order. Ask for your food to be cooked with only a little bit of oil, or in broth instead.

2. The cheese served in restaurants is almost always full fat. So figure 50 calories per thin slice and 25 calories from tablespoon shredded cheese. Feta cheese has one-third fewer calories than cheddar cheese, and is easy to crumble into small piece.

3. If you’re going to get a pizza, put red pepper flakes on top.  Capsaicin, the compound that makes chili peppers spicy, will cause your body to increase temperature and burn more calories.

4.  Menu design. Our eyes have a natural tendency to look at the right side of the menu first, so restaurants usually list their most expensive dishes in that area. Some restaurants put their most expensive items at the top of the menu, so other items will look more reasonably priced. Shaded boxes and borders around menu items also attract hungry patrons and can increase sales.

5. They turn up the volume. You know how you practically have to shout at some restaurants in order to have a conversation? It’s not because the restaurant owners just happen to love music. Studies show the louder the tunes, the more quickly you’ll eat — and the sooner you’ll leave. That means a faster turnover and a higher profit for the restaurant. While you may not even notice how quickly you’re throwing back that burger, your belly will suffer. It takes 20 minutes for the “I’m full” signal to get from your stomach to your brain, so those loud tunes mean you’re more likely to end up overstuffed.

6.  Seating. When you’re seated, you may find yourself in the awkward middle of the dining room, or perched in uncomfortable chairs. Both of these maneuvers are likely to make you want to shovel in your food more quickly, eating more calories as you go. Remember, if the hostess leads you to a table you’re sure you won’t enjoy — such as one next to the restroom, for example — it’ OK to request a better location and take your time eating in comfort.

7.  They get you to drink. Restaurants like to serve you cocktails before you even crack open your menu. Why? Because alcohol stimulates your appetite. Get your drink on before you order, and you’re more likely to end up ordering more and probably less-healthy food to quiet your now-growling stomach.

8.  A daily dose of chocolate can trim your waistline.  If you’re like us, you welcome any new excuse to add more chocolate into your life. To release fat, here’s the trick: Go heavy on the cocoa and light on sugar. Cocoa contains more antioxidants than most foods and is good for so many things when consumed in moderation, including weight loss.  To add more cocoa into your diet, buy unsweetened cocoa and add it to shakes, coffee and other recipes.

9.  A glass of wine a day is an effective fat releaser.  So many people have asked me if it’s OK to have a drink when trying to lose weight. Good news: Many studies clearly show that a small glass of red wine a day is good for your health. Now numerous animal studies are highlighting its great promise as a fat releaser. In one large study of more than 19,000 middle-aged women of normal weight, those who were light to moderate drinkers had less weight gain and less risk of becoming overweight than those who drank no alcohol. And in another separate animal study done in 2006, the researchers found that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine, improved exercise endurance and protected against diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

10.  Dairy promotes weight loss.  Unfortunately, some myths persist that dairy sabotages weight loss, but science finds this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research suggests that those who have deficiencies in calcium hold a greater fat mass and experience less control of their appetite.  What’s more, studies have found that dairy sources of calcium — such as yogurt, low- or nonfat cheese and milk — are markedly more effective in accelerating fat loss than other sources.  In one study from the University of Tennessee, researchers found that eating three servings of dairy daily significantly reduced body fat in obese subjects. If they restricted calories a bit while continuing with the same dairy servings, it accelerated fat and weight loss.

11.  The difference between being overweight and maintaining a healthy weight may boil down to one move: fidgeting.  Research suggests that people who are naturally lean — you know the sort, they seem to eat all day, eat whatever they want  and never gain a pound or an inch — automatically, even subconsciously, find ways to move to make up for any extra calories they may be ingesting. Believe it or not, spontaneous physical activity such as fidgeting, bending, brushing your hair, doing dishes and so forth  can burn 350 or more calories a day, according to Mayo Clinic research.

12.  All sugar isn’t evil when it comes to weight loss. It’s no secret that America has a sugar problem. According to the American Heart Association, we eat 22 teaspoons a day on average.  The Heart Association recommends six for women and nine for men. While cutting back on sugar consumption all around is a smart, healthy move, you should also consider swapping some of your sugar for honey. Honey has also shown great promise in animal studies for reducing weight gain and adiposity (fatness) when substituted for sugar. It’s a nutritious fat-releasing alternative that also boasts antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It may improve blood sugar control, is a great cough suppressant and boosts immunity.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


The 10 Germiest Places in a Restaurant

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While you're feasting, where are the germs festering?

To get the dirt on dining out, ABC News Consumer Correspondent Elisabeth Leamy went undercover at 10 restaurants in three states.  She took swab samples from 10 surfaces you typically come in contact with at a restaurant.  Then, Dr. Philip Tierno and his team at the New York University Microbiology Department lab tested the samples.

So what's the dirtiest?  Here are the top 10 germiest places in a restaurant, in descending order:

10. Salad bar tongs
9. Ketchup bottles
8. Bathroom faucets
7. Bathroom door knobs
6. Rims of glasses
5. Tables
4. Salt and pepper shakers
3. Lemon wedges
2. Menus
1. Seats

Watch the full story on 20/20: The Real Dish Friday at 10 p.m. ET

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Eat Healthier When Dining Out

Steve Mason/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Eating out is a pleasure and everyone deserves the experience along with a break from the kitchen. Unfortunately, dining out can do some damage to your waistline if you are not armed and ready with a little knowledge and a lot of self control.

Here are some tips from personal chef, registered dietitian, cookbook author and ABC News Good Morning America contributor Diane Henderiks to help you dine out without busting a button.

Think ahead:  Check out the restaurant menu ahead of time to reduce impulse ordering. Don't starve yourself the same day you are going out to eat. This will most likely backfire and lead to not-so-healthy food choices. Instead have a lighter lunch and a small snack an hour or two before going out.

Watch the booze:  If you plan to imbibe, limit yourself to one glass of wine, cocktail or beer. Alcohol can pack on the pounds and weaken your willpower.

Learn the lingo:  Familiarize yourself with healthy cooking techniques and don't be shy -- ask your server about how things are cooked and request items the way you want them. Eat more foods prepared with these methods: steamed, poached, blackened, grilled, roasted, stewed, stir-fried.

Ditch the dough:  Skip the refined white bread and butter -- it spoils your appetite, is nutritionally void and served with olive oil or butter. Don't even let your server put it on the table! Instead, order an appetizer right away and opt for the healthier choices: raw bar items, grilled chicken bites, salad, broth based soups or veggie platters with dip.

Get sauce smart:  Use condiments sparingly and order sauces, gravies, and dressings on the side.

When enough is enough:  Ask for half of the meal to be wrapped up before it is served or ask for the food on your plate to be "doggie bagged" when you feel satisfied. It tastes just as good on the fifth bite as it will on the 25th bite! Order a dessert for the table and share. This will allow you to enjoy a sweet ending without overdoing it. Listen to your body -- it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it's full. The faster you eat, the more you eat. The silly thing that your mother told you -- like putting your fork down between bites or chewing your food 20 times before swallowing -- is actually good advice, so take heed!

Diane Henderiks is on a mission to teach America how to eat well. She is a personal chef, registered dietitian, cookbook author and regular Good Morning America contributor. She manages two companies: Diane's Daily Dish, her personal chef service; and Diane M. Henderiks, R.D. & Associates LLC, her nutrition consulting firm. She travels the country sharing her expertise and engaging audiences at the nation's top food and wine festivals and women's events. Diane is renowned for her expertise in creating wholesome cuisine that is both delicious and nutritious.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Filth, Fecal Matter Found in Some Fast Food Restaurant Play Areas

Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) -- The play area at your local fast food restaurant may be harboring germs and bacteria that could make your children sick.

ABC News found out about this issue from a crusading mother who is trying to get standards in place for how -- and how often -- restaurant play areas should be cleaned.

At present, the government regulates restaurants and child care facilities, but not child play areas in restaurants.

Clumps of hair, rotting food and gang graffiti were just some of the things that mother Erin Carr-Jordan says she found when she followed her toddler into a fast-food restaurant play tube.

"It was like getting hit with a brick, it was so disgusting," she told ABC’s Good Morning America. "There was filth everywhere, there was black on the walls and it was sticky and there was grime inside the connecting tubes."

A professional with a specialty in child development and four children of her own, Carr-Jordan couldn't get the filthy scene out of her mind, so she crawled into more play tubes. And when she felt restaurant managers weren't responsive to her complaints, she started taking her video camera with her, and then posting her findings on the internet.

Carr-Jordan knew the play areas looked awful, but she wanted proof they could make children sick. So she spent several thousand dollars of her own money on testing. She collected samples at nine restaurants in seven states, from McDonald's, Burger King, Chuck E. Cheese's and others. She shipped off her swabs to a certified lab.

The lab found fecal matter in eight out of the nine play areas Carr-Jordan tested -- a staggering 90 percent. Children who come into contact with those bacteria could then get sick if they touched their mouth, nose or an open wound. One restaurant play tube had more than 20 million fecal bacteria in a two-inch area.

"Where there are people, there are germs," said New York University microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno.

ABC News asked Tierno, director of microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center, to put Carr-Jordan's lab result into context. He said the play areas could have been worse, but there's definitely room for improvement.

"The areas where children play in those restaurants, they should be periodically sanitized -- I don't know if some of these were sanitized in a more timely fashion to have 20 million count -- but they really should be," he said.

That is precisely Carr-Jordan's point. After all, restaurant bathrooms are required by law to be cleaned regularly, but there are no clear standards for restaurant play areas.

"I don't want them to take these places away, I most certainly do not. I just want them to clean them," she said.

ABC News asked the restaurant chains for their reaction:

Statement to ABC News from Burger King:
BURGER KING® restaurant playgrounds must be cleaned and maintained in accordance with the cleaning standards in the BURGER KING® Operations Manual. These standards include procedures for daily, weekly and monthly cleaning of playground equipment. In accordance with our policy, restaurant playgrounds are also required to be cleaned by a professional cleaning service on a quarterly basis. Burger King Corp. has contacted the franchise restaurant where the sample was taken and the franchisee has confirmed they conducted a deep cleaning of the playground this month. Additionally, the franchisee is reinforcing BURGER KING®'s standards on proper cleaning and maintenance procedures with all of its staff and management team at the restaurant. - Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Chief Brand and Operations Officer for Burger King Corp.

Statement to ABC News from McDonald's:
"We put our customers first, and are taking these concerns very seriously. We've spoken with Dr. Carr-Jordan and assigned a team to review the report findings and our own existing procedures. While we have stringent sanitizing procedures for weekly, daily and even spot cleaning, we're always looking for ways to improve our standards and how they are followed at each restaurant." - Cathy Choffin, Manager of Safety and Security McDonald's USA

Statement to ABC News from Chuck E. Cheese's:
Our goal at Chuck E. Cheese's is to provide families with a wholesome, safe, entertaining experience. Cleanliness is a critical element toward meeting this goal. We have detailed step by step cleaning instruction manuals with video training in each of our entertainment centers. All existing play equipment is cleaned at least daily with Oasis 146 Multi-Quat sanitizer. Touch ups are completed throughout the day as needed. Additionally, we have Purell stations installed for our guests and employees to use. - Lois Perry VP, Advertising Chuck E. Cheese's  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Calorie Contents at Restaurants Somewhat Accurate, Study Finds

Creatas/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- As of 2011, U.S. restaurant chains with 20 or more locations are required to post calorie information on their menus.  But how reliable are those numbers?  According to a Tufts University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they’re pretty good, and that’s good news since an estimated 35 percent of the daily energy intake in U.S. individuals comes from foods purchased in restaurants.
The authors measured the calories of over 269 food items obtained from 42 randomly selected quick-serve and sit-down restaurants in Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Indiana in June of 2010.  They found that the calories listed for the food items were, on average, close to accurate.  For example, 40 percent of the items were more than 10 calories higher per portion, while 52 percent of them were at least 10 calories less per portion than the stated energy contents.  

But, 19 percent of the foods were more than 100 calories over the stated calorie count, while the 13 foods with the biggest positive discrepancy had an average of 289 calories extra per portion than was listed on the menu.  

Interestingly, there were more discrepancies at sit-down restaurants than in quick-serve places.  The authors think that this is may be due to poor quality control of portion size in those restaurants compared with quick-serve places, where food tends to be “stamped” out in uniform portions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fast Food Chains to Offer Healthier Choices for Kids

George Doyle/Stockbyte(WASHINGTON) -- Nineteen fast food chains plan to offer healthier meal options on children's menus as part of a new initiative launched Wednesday by the National Restaurant Association.

The participating chain restaurants include Burger King, Chili's, IHOP, and Friendly's. The more than 15,000 restaurants that participate in the program will offer at least one meal combination that totals 600 calories or less, including a side dish of 200 calories or less.

"It's giving parents choices," said ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, who welcomed the news.

The types of food offered will also follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food guidelines. The offerings include more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

But for many restaurants, the number of less-healthy options could outweigh the new healthier ones. In one recent study, researchers at Yale University looked at 20 fast food chains that provided nearly 3,000 different food options for children. Only 27 of the food options met the required standards set by the initiative.

Another challenge might be getting kids to choose the more healthful parts of the menu.

"The big issue is, will they be promoting the healthy guidelines, or will it just be one item on the menu and kids will still go to the fries," said Besser.

Nearly 20 percent of children aged 6 to 11 are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While a myriad of factors contribute to the growing rate of childhood obesity, a fierce debate brews on how to address the problem.

A group of Harvard researchers suggested that morbidly obese children should be taken away from their parents, according to an editorial the researchers published 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But according to Besser a better solution is to modify fast-food company's marketing strategies to children, revitalize physical education programs in schools, and provide more access to healthier foods in lower-income neighborhoods.

"Demonizing parents is not the way to go," said Besser. Some parents may be part of the problem, but educating parents is a better alternative than taking children away, he said.

"Hopefully this will help with the conversation, but it's not the solution," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


How Many Calories? No More Guessing

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Here's one way the new health care law was made an obvious difference.  It requires chain restaurants to start posting calorie counts for menu items. 

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday formally unveiled its rules that will put the calorie policy into effect.

Of course, as many will have already noticed, eating establishments are not waiting for government. Many have already started to display calorie counts, which had previously been required only in New York City.

The Center for Science and Public Interest is out with its praise for the FDA's march forward with the calorie count legislation, which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

CSPI is not happy about just one thing.  Movie theaters and alcohol are exempt from the new labeling regulations.  CSPI says will will "press the FDA to include them in the final regulation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio