In this 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 Panera Bread.
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.
- “S/M 350/550 cal” — this could be found right after a salad, indicating that the small bowl is 350 calories, while a regular is 550.
- “SF,” “GF,” or “DF” — could all be common allergy indicators / show dietary preferences (soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)
- “low chol” — your food or drink has a low amount of cholesterol per serving
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 Panera Bread’s products.
- Go to their website
- On the main menu hover over “Menu Items” and select Soups
- Find and click on “Low-Fat Chicken Noodle Soup.” Here you will find the nutrition details and ingredients.
Summaries- Nutrition (per bowl):
- 160 calories
This is a light meal, but it depends on the circumstances. If you have already eaten a large breakfast and lunch, and/or have a particularly sluggish metabolism, this may be plenty.
- 5 grams of fat, 1.5 of which are saturated, 0 grams of trans fat
Most soups are predominantly carbs, but the butter, cheese, bacon, cream, and milk contribute to the fat content. Thankfully there is no trans fat.
- 110mg of cholesterol and 1400mg of sodium
This is high in sodium, which is good to know if trying to avoid salt.
There is some cholesterol, likely from the dairy and bacon.
- 19g of carbs, 3 of which are fiber, and 2 of which are sugar (the remaining is starch)
A good sugar to fiber ratio, in my opinion.
- 14g protein
This is a little low for my liking.
- Lastly, 25% of the DV for Vitamin A, 0% of your daily Vitamin C, 4% for Calcium, and 0% of your Iron
An OK source of vitamin a.
- 0mg of Caffeine
Our approximate macro breakdown (calculated by calories, not mass): 28% fat, 37% carbs, 35% protein.
See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?
Our ingredients (to help clarify, I indented ingredients that composed other ingredients, and unique ingredients are blue [or red if a vocab word]):
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Egg Noodles
- Durum Wheat Flour
- Wheat Gluten
- Egg Whites
- White Meat Chicken
- White Meat Chicken
- Chicken Broth
- Rice Starch
- Sea Salt
- This term, to be honest, does not mean much. It simply means... More Chicken Flavor
- Chicken Fat
- Natural Flavor
- Chicken Stock And Flavor
- Soybean Oil
- Yeast Extract
- "The additive is a polysaccharide gum derived from Xanthomon... More & Guar Gum
- Onion Powder
- Celery Seed
Contains egg and wheat.
- Not great in the micronutrient department, from what we can see at least, but it does contain 1/4 of your daily vitamin a.
- No trans fats.
- The most common macro is carbohydrates, but there is no 50% majority
- Good on the fiber and sugar but not enough protein.
- Some cholesterol and high sodium.
- There are 26 unique ingredients (27 separating the xanthan and guar gum).
- The fat sources are not the best.
- The sources of carbs are pretty neutral.
- There are some “flavors” added.
See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients
Hope this eating out tutorial / walk-through helps! More coming soon.
Thanks for reading!