Amazingly a third of the calories that most Americans eat come from meals outside the home including fast-food restaurants, which is almost double what it was 30 years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
More than half of the adults eat out three or more times a week, and 12 percent eat out more than seven times a week. Consequently the obesity epidemic continues to grow.
Americans are eating out more than a decade ago because of convenience… they have less time for cooking, longer commutes, and poorer cooking skills. Additionally there are many more options for affordable meals when eating out.
How many more calories a person consumes when eating out depends on the meal. Eating lunch out has the largest effect, adding 158 calories to daily caloric intake, compared to lunch prepared at home. Dinner out increases intake by 144 calories, and breakfast out adds 74 calories, according to the USDA.
Interestingly, research demonstrates that for an obese person eating out added an average of 239 calories a day versus only 88 additional calories for those who were not overweight.
10 Tips for Healthier Eating Out:
- Start with a restaurant selection by first going online and checking menus ahead of time….do they serve heart healthy entrees?
- Once a restaurant is chosen, HAVE A PLAN! Go to the restaurant of choice with a firm plan on types of food selection in mind.
- Order a la cart
- Start with a salad with a fat-free dressing….get dressing on the side
- Entrees without the sauces, or selection of sauces that are not cream based; i.e. tomato based entrees; sauces and dressings on the side so you can see how much you eat
- Choose entrees and sides that are lean and grilled, baked, broiled, steamed, etc rather than fried
- Avoid pasta or rice based dishes.these are just inexpensive fillers that restaurants use that add empty calories. An extra serving of lean meat or vegetables is a better choice
- Forego the bread for a tomato based soup or bean soup as an appetizer.
- Savor the experience, eat slowly
- Order half portions, or ask for to-go box when you place your order and put half entree in it to take home before you start eating