If you’re trying to control your weight but you’re still eating out at restaurants, you’re fighting a losing battle.
The average single restaurant meal from one of the nation’s independent or small-chain restaurants contains two to three times the estimated calorie needs of an individual adult at a single meal, and 66 percent of typical daily calorie requirements, say researchers who analyzed 157 meals selected randomly from 33 Boston area restaurants.
On average, the meals studied contained 1,327 calories. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the meals contained more than half of the FDA’s daily energy recommendation of 2,000 calories. Twelve meals contained more than the entire recommended daily energy intake.
Among the meal categories studied, Italian (1,755 calories), American (1,494 calories), and Chinese (1,474 calories) meals had the highest average calorie levels. Vietnamese meals had the lowest calorie levels with an average of 922 calories. The Japanese meals had the second lowest calories with an average of 1,027 calories.
The researchers, from Tufts University, chose independent and small-chain restaurants because these categories will be exempt when the federal rules on posting calorie counts on menus eventually become law.
However, they also examined a subset of the independent or small-chain restaurant meals and found that their average calorie content was 6 percent higher than the stated energy content of equivalent meals in the largest national chain restaurants.
This difference was not statistically significant and clearly shows that whenever you eat out,
you are consuming excess calories. To control your weight, it’s best to eat at home. If you must eat out, share the meal with a friend, or ask the server to pack up half of it to take home.
Do this when you order, so you don’t have to face the temptation of having it in front of you.
More Posts by Chauncey Crandall, M.D.
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