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The 200 Extra Calories You Could Avoid

Whether you struggle to find the time to cook a meal at home, or simply enjoy having another person cook and serve your food to you, there’s a calorie cost to dining out uncovered by a new study published by Public Health Nutrition. Turns out that eating at both the fast food place and full service establishments bring significant increases in energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat.

So why do so many of us eat out so much. It’s simple, meal prep and shopping take time, cooking is not easy for everyone and cleanup isn’t fun for anyone. Beyond our lack of time, prices at most grocery stores have been rising steadily, while restaurant meals haven’t gone up as much in price. When it’s more affordable to eat out, consumers will make this choice, hands down.

We also know that Americans are not, by nature, healthy eaters considering over a third of adults in the US are obese – that’s about 79 million of us. Eating out isn’t the sole culprit when it comes to why we’re all so heavy – portions sizes have increased; calorie-laden drinks are more popular than ever. Experts think we eat a third more calories than we did only 40 years ago; this includes 56% more fats and oils. Yikes.

The research team looked at data from more than 12,000 subjects aged 20 to 65 years old who had answered questions as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey about their eating habits on two different days. Almost 30% of the participants ate at a fast food place on both days. The first day 28% of the subjects dined at a full service place, 20% did so on the second day. The remainder of the subjects reported eating at home on both days.

Continues below…

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The 200 Extra Calories You Could Avoid Continued…

Those who ate in any type of restaurant were found to take in an added 200 calories a day on average than those who ate at home. The extra calories were responsible for almost 10% of total daily calorie intake. Black adults ate more calories than either white or Hispanics. Eating out impacted the high-income adults least, suggesting that they might order healthier, but typically more expensive, items
on the menus.

Also – when we eat out, we don’t cut calories during the day in anticipation. This makes our daily totals on those days higher than they should be.

Here are some smart tips for when you must eat at a restaurant, sit down or fast food…

- Order a half portion or child’s size.

- Get dressing or sauce on the side.

- Substitute healthier sides – carrots, apple slices, etc.

- Drink water instead of soda or a smoothie.

- Go for steamed, broiled, baked or grilled. No fried or sautéed, or things described as “crispy”, “rich” or ” au gratin”.

- Eat slowly, as it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message that you aren’t hungry any longer.

It would also be a smart idea to try making eating out more of the exception than the rule, though figures from 2012 show that we spend almost 4.5% of our pay on dining out, while our spending on groceries has remained flat over the same time. Going out to eat a meal takes out the work of planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning, but that comes at a cost, one that can add up over time.

To your good health,