Like to Eat Out? Watch the Fat at Full-Service Restaurants, Too

Fast food restaurants for some time have posted calorie contents on their burgers and fries so you know what you're eating and can make good decisions.  But now experts are saying that nutrition guidelines are needed for full-service restaurants, as well.

For example, did you know that Outback slathers your steak with butter before grilling it?  Food prepared away from home is typically higher in calories and lower in nutrition than food prepared at home, but it now makes up more than one-third of all calories purchased in the United States, according to newswise.com.  Now we can see why.

"Consumers tend to view full-service restaurants as providing healthier, higher quality food than fast-food restaurants, but some studies have found much higher calorie, fat, and sodium levels in food at full-service restaurants," the Website reports.

Nutrition information provided at full-service restaurants has lagged behind fast-food restaurants.

“The need to educate customers about the nutritional content of restaurant foods is acute because consumers increasingly eat away from home, restaurants serve large portions of energy-dense and high-sodium foods, and obesity and the prevalence of other diet-related diseases are high,” newswise.com quotes lead researcher Amy Auchincloss, PhD, MPH, of the Drexel University School of Public Health.

About half of the entrees did not meet the study’s “healthier” calorie criteria, based on general nutrition advice in the US Dietary Guidelines, the Web site notes. "Almost one-third of the entrees exceeded the total daily recommended value (DRV) for sodium, and only one-fifth met recommended fiber minimums. Items targeting seniors and children had fewer calories, but often exceeded the DRV for fat and sodium. 

So, what to do?  Weight Watchers publishes books that list calorie contents for thousands of foods at many different restaurant chains.  You also can Google calorie counts online to get an estimate of how much fat and sodium a food might contain. Probably the best (and most painful way) is to watch the scale.     



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