In this new series, “Eating out: What’s in it?” we will be going over how you can figure out for yourself if something is unhealthy. Today we are taking a trip to Dairy Queen.
1. Check the menu
In more and more urban and developed cities, some nutrition information is being publicly displayed on the menu. Look for numbers or symbols next to the menu item.
- “M/L 170/310 cal” — this could be found right after a shake, indicating that the small portion is 170 calories, while a medium is 310.
- “GF,” “V,” or “DF” — could all be common allergy indicators / show dietary preferences (gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy free)
- “4g sug” –there are 4 grams of sugar in your food
These indicators are convenient and effective ways of narrowing down choices.
2. Go online
If you are eating at a chain restaurant, you can almost guarantee they will have the nutritional info on their websites. Some even have ingredients, and most include a common allergen guide.
In this case we have an extensive amount of information online for all of Dairy Queen’s products.
- Go to their website
- On the main menu select “Food”
- In the food subcategory select “DQ Bakes! Snack Menu”
- Find the Potato Skins
- Here you can view the nutrition facts and ingredient list.
- 210 calories
This may be high or low for you, depending on the circumstances.
- 11g of protein, 1030mg of sodium, and 35mg of cholesterol
A few alarms should be going off in the experienced label-reader’s mind. First, 1030mg of sodium. Quite frankly, that’s pretty bad. As we mentioned here, that’s about 2/3 of the DAILY MAX of sodium a healthy individual should be consuming.
The cholesterol may come as a shock to some of you. Cholesterol is fundamentally only in animal products (meat and dairy are the most common). These potato skins have cholesterol because of the bacon bits and cheese sauce.
- 12g of carbohydrates, 0g of which are sugar, and 2 of the grams are fiber
The sugar-free (starchy) profile is due to the potato.
- 14g of fat, 6 of which is saturated, 0 grams trans fat
On a more positive note, there is a negligible amount of trans fats. Unfortunately, the fats that are present are not all too nutritious.
- 4% Vitamin A and Vitamin C, 15% of your daily calcium, and 6% of the "Reference Daily Intake:" see post. for iron
Nothing very remarkable as far as vitamins, but the cheese provides a nice little dose of calcium.
See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?
Our approximate macronutrient breakdown: 57% fat, 22% carbs, 21% protein. Give or take a few percent.
The format they display the ingredients in can be formidable, so I divided it up into a layout that is hopefully easier to understand.
The actual ingredients are in blue, while headings are in black (some ingredients have ingredients that make them up).
1. MunchSkins® Fried Potato Skins Frozen Potatoes
2. Vegetable Oil
- Contains One or More of the Following:
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Palm Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
3. A form of glucose, a basic sugar.
4. Queso Sauce
6. Cheddar Cheese Blend
- Cheddar Cheese
- Cultured Pasteurized Milk
- Potassium Sorbate
7. Soybean Oil
8. Modified Cornstarch
9. 2% Or Less Of Green Chiles
- Green Chiles
- "Citric acid is the compound 2-hydroxy-1,2,3-propanetricarbo... More
10. Jalapeno Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Acetic Acid
See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients
13. Disodium Phosphate
14. This term, to be honest, does not mean much. It simply means... More Flavoring (Contains Milk)
16. Autolyzed Yeast Extract
17. Potassium Chloride
18. "Lactic acid, the chemical 2-hydroxypropanoic acid, occurs n... More
19. Bacon Bits (Ingredients May Vary By Supplier)
- Cured With
- Sodium Nitrite
- May Also Contain
- Potassium Chloride
- Potassium Lactate
- Smoke Flavoring
- Sodium Diacetate
- Sodium Phosphate
- Cured With
20. Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese (Ingredients may vary by supplier)
- Cultured Pasteurized Milk
- Artificial Color
- Potato Starch
- Powdered Cellulose is a compound that gives plant cells their rigidit... More Added To Prevent Caking
- A mold/yeast inhibitor commonly used in meat and cheese. Whi... More (A Natural Mold Inhibitor)
21. Black Pepper Seasoning
23. Black Pepper
24. Contains Less Than 2% Mono And Diglycerides
- We have dextrose (a guide to the types of sweeteners here).
- Salt was mentioned 7 times. Not a great choice if you are looking to reduce the sodium in your diet.
- There are a few preservatives used.
- Terms “artificial” and natural are used. As outlined here, they can be interpreted in many ways.
- Lastly, the bacon and cheese toppings do not have a definite ingredient list. Because those ingredients vary by restaurants, you cannot be exactly sure what is in them.
Hope this eating out tutorial / walk-through helps! More coming soon.
Thanks for reading!