I am inspired to write about this topic today becasue we just got back from a business trip and I was confronted with the daunting task of finding something on the menu I could actually stomach at several different restaurants. Now that I have adopted the principles of healthy eating, it has become almost impossible to eat out and feel good about what I’m eating. I typically have to compromise and choose the lesser the evils on the menu. I have truly become Sally from “When Harry Met Sally” which is highly unusual for me. I am a very low-maintenance, feather-ruffling avoider. So to become this high maintenance orderer is difficult for me. However, I have become very adept at it. Everyone must do the same.
I guess I should back track and say that you should avoid eating out at all costs. Save restaurant trips for special occasions or TRUE emergencies (getting home late from work and having to pick the kids up from soccer practice is NOT an emergency). Let’s face it, if I or you want to be healthy and eat healthy meals, we must get our butts in the kitchen. Even with time constraints, it is possible to throw together a healthy meal. The fact of the matter is that more and more restaurants are falling into the American way- quick, cheap, and man-altered. Less and less are cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients. Even most of the sit-down restaurants are nothing more than glorified fast food restaurants.
Have you ever stopped to think about how it is possible for a restaurant to have 50 million things on their menu and have it out to your table in under 15 minutes. Think about it…the only way is for them to rip open a frozen package or a can and nuke it or throw it in a pan for a couple of minutes. Taking it a step further, you should be ticked off that restaurants can charge you out the wazoo for let’s say a mile-high quadruple layer of chocolate cake that they merely defrosted and sprinkled some powdered sugar and strawberry syrup on. Are you kidding me? It infuriates me when people say they can’t afford to buy organic food or because it costs too much but are willing to take their entire family out to eat almost every day of the week. The amount of money that could be saved by eating at home is staggering. Eating healthy, organic foods would still leave a lot of money left over.
I’ll leave you all with these staggering tidbits that appeared in a Men’s Health article by By David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding. (Additional research by Lauren Murrow) about some of America’s favorite restaurants. Feel free to be outraged!
1. Outback Steakhouse- An order of Aussie Cheese Fries has 2,900 calories and an Ayers Rock Strip has 60 grams of fat.
2. Applebee’s- Many of it’s low fat items have more than 500 calories. For example, the Low Fat Chicken Quesidillas have 742 calories and 90 grams of carbs per order.
3. IHOP- That its Omelette Feast has 1,335 calories and 35 grams of saturated fat. (By the time you finish eating this behemoth breakfast, you’ll have consumed 150 percent of your daily fat requirement and 300 percent of your suggested cholesterol intake.) Said IHOP’s director of communications, “We do not maintain nutritional data on our menu items, so I am unable to assist you.”
4. Hooters- Our own investigation revealed that the chain’s wing sauce (which consists primarily of butter, sweet cream, and partially hydrogenated margarine) also contains such unappetizing additives as maltodextrin, propylene glycol alginate, xanthan gum, calcium disodium EDTA, and potassium sorbate.
5. Arby’s- The FDA has no definition of “all natural.” Thus, chains like Arby’s can say they serve “100 percent all-natural chicken,” despite using artificial flavoring. Even worse, the “all-natural” smoothies at chains across the country may contain high-fructose corn syrup.
6. Dunkin Donuts- Each of its medium-size fruit-and-yogurt smoothies packs at least 60 grams of sugar—more than four times the sugar in a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut. The fruit purees used in the smoothies are mixed with liberal doses of sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup
7. Burger King- It’s French Toast Sticks, which deliver more than 4 grams of fat per stick) share a deep fryer with the pork sausage, pork fritters, Chicken Tenders, chicken fries, Big Fish patties, hash browns, onion rings, and Cheesy Tots—and that all of those items contain harmful trans fats.
8. Panera- That the synthetic food colorings in its pastries have been linked to irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance in children. And British researchers found that artificial food colorings and preservatives in the diets of 3-year-olds caused an increase in hyperactive behavior. (The same ingredients appear in fast-food items such as mayonnaise, M&M Blizzards, and McDonald’s shakes.)
9. Maggiano’s- In Italy, a standard pasta serving means 4 ounces of noodles with a few tablespoons of sauce. At Maggiano’s, a large order of pasta translates into 2 pounds of noodles piled high on a hubcap-size dinner plate (15 1/2 inches in diameter)
10. Baskin Robbins- The top four ingredients in its Blue Raspberry Fruit Blast are Sierra Mist soda, water, sugar, and corn syrup.
11. Sit-Down Chains- That their food is actually considerably worse for you than the often-maligned fast-food fare. In fact, our menu analysis of 24 national chains revealed that the average entree at a sit-down restaurant contains 867 calories, compared with 522 calories in the average fast-food entree. And that’s before appetizers, sides, or desserts—selections that can easily double your total calorie intake.
Let’s order takeout! (Just Kidding!)