Healthy Choices

Don’t be a calorie coward

Many national fast-food chains are posting calorie information on their menus, but most people are ignoring them. That’s according to a recent study based on more than 8,000 people buying lunch in New York City in fast-food chains, including Au Bon Pain, KFC, McDonald’s and Subway.

Here’s why you should pay attention: The 15 percent of people who read the numbers saved 106 calories, on average, compared with customers who ignored the info. In some restaurants, such as Pizza Hut, the average difference was even bigger: Waist-conscious shoppers bough a lunch containing about 300 calories less than the customers who didn’t use the information.

If calorie counts aren’t yet posted in your favorite neighborhood fast-food restaurant, you can look them up online with a smart phone or computer. Many restaurant chains post nutrition information on their websites. You should start to see calorie counts posted on fast-food menus throughout the country around mid-2012, according to a Food and Drug Administration representative. Menu labeling is part of the new health care law.

Rub Those Contacts! Contact lens solutions might say “No rub” on the label, but you should rub anyway. Rubbing for at least 20 seconds removes grime that might otherwise end up in your eyes. The Food and Drug Administration has recommended that “no rub” be removed from labels because research shows that you should rinse to get rid of microbes.

Turkey Day caution Don’t buy a fresh bird too early before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. A fresh turkey should stay in your refrigerator for only a day or two before you cook it. And while we don’t’ recommend fresh pre-stuffed turkeys, if you do cook one, make sure the stuffing and met reach 165 °F. If you have any other burning questions on how to cook safely on Thanksgiving, you can call the Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry hotline at 888-674-6854. Have a happy and healthy Turkey Day!

Shop for a better hospital

You wouldn’t book a hotel without checking your go-to travel sites first, right? Well, you should also do a little research before taking a trip to the hospital. Consumer Reports now offers a hospital ratings app. The ratings are based on issues such as how well pain levels were controlled, if hospital staff provided info on drugs, cleanliness of rooms and bathrooms, infection rates after surgeries such as C-sections, and the likelihood that heart attack or pneumonia patients will end up back in the hospital within a month. The ratings also reveal some surprises: Some big-name hospitals, such as the Cleveland Clinic, scored worse than the national average for infections that stem from catheters in patients in the intensive-care unit. (The Cleveland Clinic says it has taken steps to improve its infection rates). You can search on the app by ZIP code, your location (it uses your phone’s GPS feature), or a specific hospital. It’s compatible with the iPhone and iPad and costs $2.99.

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