Top 3 Questions You Should Ask When You Eat Out: Your Right to Know

Dining out should be an enjoyable experience, yet today you practically have to be a detective to find out what you’re eating.

While many chain restaurants now provide a nutrition guide either online or printed directly on the menu, knowing the estimated calorie count of your dish (yes, that is just an estimate and can be off by as many as a few hundred calories) will only tell you so much about what you’re about to nourish your body with. Here are three things that every restaurant patron has a right to know when dining out.

1. Ask For the Fish 411

Seafood can be a healthy contribution to a well-rounded diet. Unfortunately, most of the fish we eat today comes from countries with minimal to non-existent health, safety and environmental standards. In fact barely 2 percent of imported seafood is even inspected and in some cases, menu items are often so discreetly labeled you may not even know what you’re eating.

Take “white tuna” on the sushi menu for example. This sounds pretty straight forward. There is just one problem: “white tuna” doesn’t exist. In most instances, you will instead be eating escolar or “snake mackerel” that will leave you running for the rest room due to its strong laxative effect.

So before you dive in to your seafood fare, ask the server if those scallops are indeed real scallops. Also verify if the seafood is domestic or imported, farmed or wild caught and if it is likely to be high in contaminants like mercury. You can also download this seafood smart card provided by Food and Water Watch to help you select the safest catch.

2. Grill Them For Gluten Guidance

Whether you choose a gluten-free lifestyle for its benefits or must follow strict adherence for health reasons, you have every right to know that the kitchen follows proper techniques that prevent contamination. Ask if the restaurant has been certified through a celiac support group. This will ensure they know proper preparation techniques. Or, you can search for a restaurant (enter your city in the blank) through this database usinng the iPhone and Android app, “Find Me Gluten-Free” if you are using a smartphone.

If they are not certified, ask how the food is prepared to prevent cross-contamination. Are different pots used? Are gluten-free dishes prepared separately? Is the grill cleaned between uses? A few simple questions can put your mind and your body at ease.

ordering3. Inquire At the Beginning

It’s no secret that restaurant meals can carry whopping calorie counts, especially when chefs are quick to add fatty sauces and sugary syrups. Even healthy-sounding entrees can often pack on an extra few hundred calories as a result of preparation techniques.

Rather than guessing, ask the server how dishes are prepared and if the chef is willing to change them. Oftentimes they are happy to make substitutions. Ask for the veggies steamed rather than floating in cheese sauce or request that the chicken be grilled rather than fried.

And low-calorie options aren’t off the hook either. “Light” versions of salad dressings or sauces may contain dangerous sugar substitutes, so ask to see the ingredients. If your request is denied, then you probably wouldn’t want to eat it anyway.

-The Alternative Daily


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