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Knowledge is Power! Tools to Help You Dine Out

As a nutritionist/RD I LOVE when restaurant chains post interactive 'nutrition calculators' on their web sites. You can instantly see how making a different selection or modifying your meal completely changes what you're putting in your body. Here are a few examples:

Panera Bread We don't have this chain in Manhattan and I miss it. When I lived in Florida it was a weekly staple, plus they have really yummy fresh brewed unsweetened iced tea. When I'm traveling and get the chance to eat there here's what I order:

ORDER: You Pick Two: Vegetarian Black Bean Soup and Classic Café Salad, slice of whole grain baguette

THE DIGITS: 330 calories

COMPARISON: A You Pick Two combo of New England Clam Chowder and a Grilled Chicken Cesar Salad with a sourdough roll clocks in at 750 calories (a 420 cal difference)

Check out the calculator here

Red Robin I just ate at this chain for the first time recently in upstate NY. My hubby is a big fan of burgers but I don't eat meat, so I was thrilled to find out that I could get a vegan patty and trade the bun for crisp lettuce leaves!

ORDER: Natural burger, sub vegan patty and lettuce "bun" (comes with red onion, tomato and pickles), half order of fries (my once in a while can't-live-without treat)

THE DIGITS: 390 calories

COMPARISON: The natural burger with vegan patty on the standard bun with a full side of fries adds up to 840 calories (a 450 cal difference)

Check out the calculator here

Moe's Southwest Grill I love when they shout, "Welcome to Moe's" to everyone who talks through the door. They also have a great salsa bar!

ORDER: Homewrecker burrito ordered as a "streaker" (no flour tortilla) with tofu, black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo and guacamole - no rice, cheese or sour cream

THE DIGITS: 283 calories (each extra side of salsa adds 15 calories)

COMPARISON: A tofu homewrecker with the flour tortilla, rice, cheese and sour cream included packs 863 calories (a 580 cal difference)


Check out the calculator here

How often do you eat out? Do your favorite chains offer nutrition calculators? If you've used them to change what you order and it's helped you eat healthier and slim down please share your story!

P.S. Photo: thanks iband

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