The Healthy Dining Finder claims to be a service that will help consumers find local restaurants that serve healthy foods. In reality, the Healthy Dining Finder is just a marketing tool for restaurants that can afford to pay for a listing in the dining guide. The Healthy Dining Finder is also painfully incomplete. If you really want to know where the healthiest foods are in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, ask the locals.
Healthy Dining Finder
The whole concept of the Healthy Dining Finder, Healthydiningfinder.com, is one that may mislead consumers who may not ever read the FAQ. These consumer may mistakenly this site is and editorial site not an advertising site. The major difference is that the restaurants on the Healthy Dining web site pay to be there.
According to the Healthy Dining Finder, they do apply nutrition criteria to the restaurants. As part of these nutrition requirements they do not require that a local restaurant have a certain percentage of healthy menu items.
The Healthy Dining Finder nutrition criteria require that entrees need to have fruits and or vegetables, lean protein and 100 percent whole grains.
While the Healthy Dining Finder defends their inclusion of many fast food restaurants, their logic is a little warped and leaves out some healthier local restaurants.
A restaurant like Applebee’s, which is actually a chain is not currently listed on their web site. Yet, a fast food restaurant like Arby’s is included.
The illogical aspect is that overall, Applebee’s offer more healthy entrees and options than Arby’s, and all of the other local restaurants that are listed on the Healthy Dining Finder for Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
750 Calories is High
The Healthy Dining Finder also requires that entrees be 750 calories or less, which actually seems pretty high when you’re looking for healthy fast food lunches. The The Healthy Dining Finder also requires that the entrees contain 25 grams of fat or less. Again, for dieters this is a high number. They also require that entrees contain eight grams of saturated fat for less.
The Healthy Dining Finder may be best used by anyone new to the area, looking for healthy menu options for a fast food, take out lunch. This information is available elsewhere on the web, which makes the Healthy Dining Finder mildly useful, without offering any new services to health-conscious local consumers. For example, go to the web site of any fast food restaurant and find their nutrition data.
Note that the free web service for consumers is not claiming that the offerings on their web site are the healthiest in the local Sturbridge area. They freely admit that these are the healthiest options available “at each participating restaurant,” i.e. for their paying customers.
The Healthy Dining Finder gives a very incomplete and somewhat warped view of healthy food options.
The restaurant Cracker Barrel makes the list because they offer a side salad and a cup of soup. Cracker Barrel may offer tasty foods, but people don’t go there for the health aspect, they go for the comfort foods. Many places offer small side salads and small cups of soup, which will be low in calories simply due to their size. Most people do not need a web site to figure this out.
High Sodium Included
The Healthy Dining Finder also admits that “Many of the dishes listed on this website are high in sodium, and they are, therefore, inappropriate for those individuals who want or need to limit sodium intake.”
Sodium intake is an important issue anyone with high blood pressure, heart conditions, dieters, and anyone generally interested in their overall health.
Real and Better Healthy Dining in the Sturbridge, Massachusetts Area
In a 20-mile radius of Sturbridge, with no other criteria selected, only eight restaurants appeared on the Healthy Dining Finder list. As a healthy eater, I have never been to more than half of the restaurants on the list because they are not known for healthy menus overall.
There are much better options with healthy entrees that are not on the Healthy Dining Finder list because they have not signed up and paid the fee.
One restaurant which is also a chain that is not yet included in the list is Applebee’s. Appblebees has successfully offered a healthy and tasty Weight Watchers menu as part of their food offerings.
Many of the entrees on the Applebees menu fall well below the 750 maximum calorie cap off on the Healthy Dining Finder.
Kaizen Sushi Bar & Grill
Another place to find healthy foods is Kaizen Sushi Bar & Grill. You can find Miso soup, sushi dishes, and many vegan and vegetarian options at this local Sturbridge, Massachusetts restaurant.
You could also go to the Kahula Restaurant at 119 Main Street in Sturbridge, Massachusetts and order any number of vegetarian dishes or lean chicken stir fry with side orders of brown rice.
For cold and quick options, you could also choose salads or sandwiches made fresh with ultra-lean Boar’s Head meats from Paoletti’s, or head to Margaux’s Deli where you will find nutritious eggplant, spinach and mushroom ingredients for healthy sandwiches.
While the Healthy Dining Finder appears to be a good ideas on the surface, it is simply a an advertising vehicle, in the same vein that the phone book is an advertising vehicle. Local restaurants with healthier entrees and appetizers than those listed on the web site may never be listed on the site. This is a tricky way to try to encourage consumers to eat at fast food chain restaurants when better, healthier and locally-owned options exist.
Even if the online service eventually grows and Applebee’s is added, locally-owned restaurants and dining locations that offer healthy options may be completely overlooked. One example is the cheap and healthy cafeteria at the local hospital. Their entrees are made with health in mind, and they always offer vegetables and salad.
I would say that with a web site like Healthy Dining Options, their hearts are in the right place, but I think they are more concerned with their pocketbooks.
Applebee’s (main site, Weight Watcher’s Menu, local dining experience), http://www.applebees.com
First-hand Dining Experince at Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel, Kahula, Paoletti’s, Margaux’s
Healthy Dining Finder (main site, FAQ, local search, analysis of local menus), http://www.healthydiningfinder.com
“Top Places for a Quick and Healthy Lunch in Southbridge, Massachusetts,” http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/152924/top_places_for_a_quick_and_healthy.html
“Where to Eat a Cheap and Quick Breakfast in Sturbridge, Massachusetts,” http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/293223/where_to_eat_a_cheap_and_quick_breakfast.html