January is the traditional time for people to start trying to take better care of themselves, or at least make up for the excesses of December (and give themselves a platform for dealing with the coming excesses of February through November). With that in mind, many people resolve to eat better and hit the gym.
The idea of "eating better" has become more and more difficult to define in recent years. Sometimes people mean better quality food - but even that notion is a complex mess - organic? local? non-GMO? anti-oxidants? low fat? low carb? (for a good perspective on these issues and in fact, this kind of thinking, check out Michael Pollan's recent book ("In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto"<). For this article I'm going to focus on just eating fewer calories as for many people at this time of year, healthier eating means losing weight.
UVFood has several resources that can help you find places that can help you eat better.
First, knowing nutritional information about your food lets you make informed decisions about what to eat. Once you have that in hand you can make an educated decision between an Egg McMuffin (110 calories) and a Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddle (290 calories), or between a Panera Power Breakfast Sandwich (360 calories) or a Grilled Asiago Bagel with Egg, Cheese and Bacon (610 calories) on it.
Turkey is generally considered a healthy sandwich meat because it's low in fact, but once you start piling on mayonnaise your simple turkey sandwich and put it on cheesey bread, it can balloon out to more than 900 calories. And you may be surprised to find that a McDonald's salad (with dressing) may have almost as many calories as a Big Mac.
Most chain restaurants now provide nutritional informationonline. UVFood listings for restaurants which do have nutrition facts online will have a link to the web page for the. You can easily find a list of all the restaurants which have nutrition facts online by checking the "nutritional info" tag.
You can also find restaurants with strong offerings of two traditionally light and healthy foods: salad (and restaurants with salad bars) and sushi. If you're getting a salad and you want it to stay healthy remember to be careful of how much dressing you put on it, and remember that the more you load it up with foods like baked beans, cheese and eggs, the less light it becomes.
At the more local, non-chain restaurants you're not likely to be able to find out detailed nutritional information but don't be shy about asking if something is made with cream or with butter, or asking if you can make substitutions or changes to a dish. At Lui Lui, for instance, the kitchen is happy to substitute a broth sauce for a cream sauce, or even substitute broccoli for pasta.
Lastly, I'd like to give a special mention to Gusanoz. Gusanoz has put a lot of effort into expanding their menu beyond just the traditional Mexican fare found in American restaurants, include a special "Lite Menu". The Lite Menu has lower fat, lower calorie alternatives (include a Lite Margarita), and offers an estimate of the calories in a particular dish. Kudos to Gusanoz for putting the effort into the Lite Menu that they did.