THE NUTRITIONAL PROBLEMS YOU FACE WITH DINING OUT
Living in such a vibrant City such as Bristol is great. When it comes to restaurant choices we are truly spoilt, the options are endless.
After a long work day or a chilled weekend, the temptation to meet with friends, colleagues or loved ones to revisit one of your favourite eateries or to experience something new is always going to be there. And why wouldn’t it be…when you eat out, there is no need to buy the ingredients, no need to cook and no need to wash up - WIN WIN right? Well, no!
The issue is, particularly when you have a weight-loss goal, but also from a health perspective even if you don’t, is do you actually know what it is you’re putting into your body? If not, you are essentially blind eating!
Maybe you’re actively trying to make healthy choices when dining out, and that’s great, but are you really, and this again comes back to the question, what’s actually in your food? Well unfortunately what I can tell you, is that it is most likely that you’re not making the healthy choice you may think, and here’s why…..
Running a restaurant is business, the type of business that thrives on your repeat custom. This repeat custom ultimately is dependant on your experience and what defines that for us, is most importantly how the food tastes. This is where the problems begin….
You, like everyone else are drawn to foods high in salt, sugar and fat. Why? Because it is these that add such flavour to our food, the more of it in your food, the bigger the flavour. Furthermore, when you eat these in excess, you naturally crave more, and that’s a fact.
So why’s that good for a restaurant? Because you’re far more likely to return and far more likely to recommend your experience to others.
Furthermore, it is also far easier for restaurants to add these three into your food than it is for them to improve flavour through serving more nutritious food - Time is money! Never be naive enough to think that your health is put before profit, particularly with the bigger chains, because it is not.
Of course, the restaurant can still advertise that they use fresh, local ingredients but that unfortunately doesn’t mean that your food is healthy or nutritious.
Let me give you a prime example of this. This 'Donburi' meal breakdown has been taken from a very popular chain of Japanese style eatery. Below is a description of the ‘Donburi’“meal; "
A traditional dish, Donburi is a big bowl of steamed rice that is stir-fried with chicken, beef or prawn and mixed vegetables, served with a pickled side'
It has to be said that at no point does this restaurant suggest this is healthy and they do list all of their foods in detail. However in my eyes, it is implied that this is healthy. It’s basically just rice, meat and vegetables. Perfect and guilty free, right? But let’s have a look at the breakdown of this meal;
Calories per serving - 1007Kcal (if you’re female that’s over half of your max allowance, in one sitting)
Sugar per serving - 22.3 grams (That’s almost 6 teaspoons)
Fat - 22.5 grams
Carbohydrates - 146 grams (RDA on a 2000 calorie diet is between 180-250 grams, so not many left then!)
Salt - 3.6 grams (Uh oh, that’s way over your RDA)
So perhaps not as healthy as we might think, and that’s just one course. What about the starter, the drinks and the desert? And believe me, it isn’t just this restaurant where this will be the case.
There is however unfortunately another issue when eating out, particularly if you happen to be a female! The food requirements for men (2500 cal) and women (2000 cal) are considerably different, but when you receive your food you’ll notice that the generic serving sizes do not replicate this. When you’re eating out regularly, and if you’re having more than one dish, you can quite easily consume your entire daily allowance of sugar, fat, salt, carbs and calories in one sitting. Not to mention any Trans-Fat that has been added into these dishes. Scary thought huh?
Well it is, and it’s absolutely essential to take note of this. However it shouldn’t mean that you never eat out and if you’re a bit of a social bee, it shouldn’t mean that you can’t get out there and enjoy life. You can, but if you’re eating out two or three times a week then you are most likely causing yourself some serious health issues for the future, and if you are trying to tackle a weightless goal, will undoubtedly be creating a huge and almost unbeatable barrier.
There are of course some things you can do to limit the damage of eating out, simply by being a little more savvy with your planning, reading through the menus and ordering your food. Below is a list of the top ten things I believe you should consider before and during dining out…
1 - Check the menu online before you and plan your meal, most have these available!
2 - Don’t turn up to the restaurant feeling ravenous, you will almost always make poor choices
3 - Make sure you are well hydrated before visiting
4 - Try to pick a dish with a higher serving of vegetables
5 - Don’t be afraid to ask for alternatives, e.g. vegetables instead of fries
6 - Just because it’s on the plate, do you have to eat it?
7 - As much as possible, avoid creamy white sauces and added cheeses
8 - Don’t be tempted by the free bread
9 - Go easy on the alcohol, how much do you really need
10 - If you have to have a dessert, why not share it?
So there you have it. Of course there’s more, but these are the top things I can think of.
I hope this has perhaps given you something to think about, certainly before you next eat out. As always with my posts, if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask or just message me on here.