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A Wellternative is a menu item that is similar to the one you entered, but better for you.
Wellternatives are chosen by identifying similar menu items and selecting the one with the
highest rating (based on calories, fat, fiber and protein content).
Here is a summary of the key elements that determine the Wellternative rating of a menu item:
Staying healthy and managing your weight is all about balancing the calories you
consume with the calories you burn. Most people who are trying to lose or maintain
weight would benefit from balancing their calories a bit better. Many high calorie
foods also lack in other nutrients and vitamins that you need to be healthy.
We choose Wellternatives that have a reasonable number of calories for the type of
menu item. For example, an appetizer should have fewer calories than a dinner entree!
Too many calories will reduce the Wellternative rating.
We look at the total amount of fat in each menu item, keeping in mind that the
FDA recommends that you not exceed about 66gm of fat per day total, and 20gm of
saturated fat (for a typical diet of 2,000 calories a day). We also look at the
percent of calories that come from fat in each menu item. The FDA recommends
that you try to keep our calories from fat to below 30% of our total calories,
and our rating reflects this.
Fiber is good for you for a variety of reasons. More fiber helps to lower cholesterol.
High fiber foods tend to be lower in calories, and tend to fill us up more quickly, so
we eat less. High fiber diets keep our digestive system running smoothly too. The FDA
recomends that we have at least 23gm of fiber in a typical 2,000 calories a day diet.
More fiber means a higher Wellternative rating.
Protein is an essential nutrient, and it is important that you eat a diet that includes
complete proteins. The FDA recommends that at least 10% of your calories come from protein.
For non-vegetarians, complete protein sources include meat, fish, and dairy. For vegetarians,
it is a good idea to combine different sources of protein each day to ensure an adequate intake
of complete proteins. Higher protein content, therefore, boosts our rating of a menu item.
For more information on healthy sources of protein for vegetarians, see the
Introduction to vegetarianism