TONY COX, host:
According to one estimate, Americans on average eat out four to five times a week. Sure that's convenient, but this habit can spell trouble for your waistline. Now a new Web site lets you find restaurants near home or work that offer healthy dining options. Here again is NPR's Farai Chideya with Anita Jones-Mueller, president and CEO of HealthyDiningFinder.com.
FARAI CHIDEYA: So how does this all work?
Dr. ANITA JONES-MUELLER (Founder, HealthyDiningFinder.com): They can go on to the site and put in their zip code and maybe price range, and then they will be transported to a page of restaurants in their area that offer healthy dining choices. And then they can click on any restaurant logo and have a full page about that restaurant with the address. They can map it, how to get to the restaurant.
But more than that, the page offers the healthy dining items, menu items, and nutrition data. So it's calorie, fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, carbohydrates, and fruit and vegetable servings.
CHIDEYA: Well, you know, I put in the address of NPR West here in Culver City, California…
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: Uh-huh.
CHIDEYA: …44 restaurants came up and the top four were Burger King, Carl's Jr., Panda Express and KFC. Now, those restaurants aren't traditionally known for healthy menus. So how do they get so high on the list?
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: Well, actually, as far as being high on the list, the restaurants come up in order of closest to the post office for that zip code. So if you were not looking for more of the quick service restaurants, you could also do by price range. But really, this site is also to show you the better-for-you options at any restaurant that's participating. So even restaurants that you don't typically think of as healthy or having healthier options may have some really good options available.
CHIDEYA: The only problem, however, is that if you are someone with, say, a food weakness, I don't know who would be someone like that, and here I'm pointing at myself, you could walk in with the best of intentions and walked out with something that is oozing grease through a paper wrapper.
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: Well, and I think that's really the beauty of this new Web site is it guides you to the menu items that are balanced in calories and fat with an emphasis on healthful ingredients and yet taste really great. So you're not sacrificing taste in any way and instead just really helping to enhance your health.
CHIDEYA: You've got thousands, 30,000-plus restaurants on your site nationwide.
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: Right.
CHIDEYA: What is in it for the restaurants that your site recommends, if anything?
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: Well, this site really helps restaurants to let their customers know that they have healthy options and to help their customers identify what items meet their nutritional goal by providing the nutrition data on the Web site.
CHIDEYA: So what's been the response so far?
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: We have had such incredible response. People are so thrilled about this new Web site because it really connects the dots for them and really helps them to find healthier choices whenever they're eating out, if they're eating out for work or pleasure or they're traveling, and so this really gives them those options.
CHIDEYA: Final question, do you ever think, well, this is great but what if people just ate at home more, wouldn't that solve some of the problems we're talking about?
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: Well, we tend to eat out a lot nowadays just because we're so busy and because of travel and because of business. So it's not something that most people even can look at cutting out. And in fact, the National Restaurant Association has seen growth in the last year in restaurant visits and predicts that will continue to increase.
So I think it's really exciting that we can look at chefs and look at restaurants, and even quick service and fast food, and see that they are really rising to this opportunity in creating great tasting dishes that are healthy for us too.
CHIDEYA: Well, Anita, thanks for sharing with us.
Dr. JONES-MUELLER: Thank you very much.
COX: Anita Jones-Mueller is the president and CEO of HealthyDiningFinder.com. She spoke with NPR's Farai Chideya.
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