Eating Out & Dieting: Hidden Calories at Restaurants
Today the average American eats between 4 and 5 commercially prepared meals per week according to the most recently released data. If snacks are included the number rises to 5.8 meals and/or snacks per week, a number that has risen dramatically since 1965. Conversely, home preparation of food decreased almost 25% between 1965 and 1994, and with this decrease came a drop in nutrient density and an increase in total daily caloric intake. Though these numbers have progressed more slowly since the mid 1990s, presently 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese, with obesity rates doubling for adults while tripling for children since 1965. Currently, 29 million Americans have Type II (Adult Onset) Diabetes and an additional 86 million are pre-diabetic. That represents over 1/3 of the entire U.S. population!
Dining out is by no means the only culprit responsible for this epidemic, but the correlation between declining rates of preparing food at home and increasing frequency of dining out cannot be ignored. Let’s look deeper into the commercial food/restaurant industry and identify some possible reasons eating out is contributing to our expanding waistlines.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Yes, variety is good. But with the vast array of choices comes even more sources of hidden calories in the form of sugar, oil, sauces and flour products. Very few dining venues specialize in predominantly healthy food choices. For most restaurants, the goal is great taste, not healthy choices. There are certainly more eateries that will have some healthier options these days, but there is a larger number still that offer high calorie, low nutrient-dense foods. The average daily calorie requirement for an American female is 1400-2000, for males it’s 2100-2700, with many variables that may affect these numbers. The following are approximate caloric values for selected meals at common restaurants.
1 McDonalds cheeseburger w/ small fries, 16 oz soda 770
1 Big Mac w/ large fries, 24 oz soda 1510
8 oz sirloin w/ 4oz sweet potato, 1 cup broccoli and water 550
2 cheese enchiladas w/ rice and beans, 1 frozen margarita 1950
8 oz chicken fajitas w/ 3 corn tortillas & 1 skinny margarita 660
8 oz Salmon grilled w/butter, 1 cup rice & 1 cup broccoli w/olive oil,
1 slice bread w/butter, 6 oz wine 1150
Previous meal w/o rice & bread 650
10 oz ribeye w/ 8oz potato w/ butter & sour cream, small Caesar salad
6 oz wine 2000
8 oz filet mignon w/ 1 cup asparagus w/ olive oil, small mixed greens salad
w/ 2 Tbl balsalmic vinaigrette, 6 oz wine 800
1 large loaded pizza, thick crust w/ 12 oz beer Bazillion
1 large loaded pizza, thin crust w/ 12 oz beer 1/2 Bazillion
If you must eat out frequently, seek the help of a nutritionist to stay within your proper daily caloric needs.