A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that less than 0.1% of restaurant meals are of high quality.

Researchers surveyed 35 015 adults between 2003-2016 and found that half of the meals served in full-service restaurants are of poor quality. This number increases to 70% when it comes to fast food. Almost all restaurant meals are not ideal for nutrition or portion size.

What makes food “ideal”?

The American Heart Association created a Health Diet score for their Dietary Guidelines For Americans. This scoring system is built on five primary metrics, and three secondary ones.

Primary targets:

  • Fruits & Vegetables At least 4.5 cups of vegetables per day
  • Fish and Shellfish: 2 or more servings of 3.5 oz. Servings per Week
  • Sodium Less than 1500mg a day
  • Sugar-Sweetened Drinks – Less Than 36 fl. oz. per week
  • Whole Grains – 3 or more 1 oz. servings per day

Secondary targets:

  • Nuts and seeds More than four servings per day
  • Processed Meats: 2 or less 1.75 oz. Servings per Week
  • Saturated Fat Less than 7% calories

The risks of eating at restaurants

The restaurants are not in business to make people healthy. They want you to be satisfied with delicious food, so you will tell your friends about it and come back again.

Add more salt, sugar and fat to your food to make it taste better.

Restaurant food is often high in fat and sodium. Increased intake of sodium and fat is closely linked to increased risk for stroke, obesity, high blood-pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Fiber content is also lower, making it more difficult for the body to digest and absorb nutrients.

When you pay for a night out, it’s hard to resist eating. Some fast food restaurants offer discounts when you order larger portions.

A large beverage at fast food restaurants is nearly as much as the weekly recommended amount of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Restaurants charge more for healthier options that aren’t always very healthy.

Strategies For Better Restaurant Eating

When you cook at home, it’s much easier to choose healthy foods. You can make smart choices in restaurants.

  • Before you go, check the menus to find a restaurant that offers healthy choices.
  • Drink water instead of soda or alcohol.
  • Avoid high-calorie appetizers.
  • Share a meal with a dining partner.
  • Avoid deep-fried foods.
  • Select meals that include fruits, vegetables or whole grains.
  • When you’re full, stop eating and save the rest of your food for tomorrow.
  • Choose fresh fruit as a dessert rather than a pastry high in sugar and fat.

Restaurants are not expected to promote healthy eating. You must make healthy choices and know what you require to stay healthy.

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