Eating Out

The big discussion in New York recently has been about the trans fat ban going into effect for New York City restaurants. I think it’s a cool and gutsy push by the city to make eating out a more healthy activity. Admittedly, I’m not quite sure trans fats are really as bad as some people say, but I do think in the long run not consuming them on a regular basis will be good for everyone.

The ban and the national debate it has created could not come at a better time. According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Americans get 1/3rd of their daily calories from restaurant food up from 18% in 1970 (I would guess that in New York it’s more like 50-60%), and they go on to say that “numerous studies have shown that eating out regularly makes you fat. Restaurant foods tend to be packed with more calories and less nutrition.” But the truth is that even banning trans fats will not make restaurant eating anymore healthy because ultimately people end up eating way too much anyway. I know that I generally will almost always eat all of whatever is put in front of me at a restaurant, even though I’m more than aware of how little my portions should be. It’s very difficult.

I would imagine that most people are absolutely clueless about what they put in their bodies on a daily basis, and really don’t care all that much. I think that to drastically improve the health of the nation, it’s going to take some major public information campaigns backed by big names people listen to (ie celebrities like Oprah).

But as the article goes on to demonstrate, that would not really be a good thing for a lot of the big chains out there including Starbucks and Panera. At Starbucks seemingly quick and easy snack of a Grand Latte and a slice of crumb cake quickly adds up to 930 calories or 14lbs a year if you eat it once a week. So what are some solutions? From this mornings article:

Instead of ordering an entree, choose an appetizer,
which is usually just as delicious as other foods on the menu but in a
smaller portion size. If you want an entree, split it with a friend or
ask for the take-out box at the beginning of the meal so you don’t
overeat.

I guess the easiest thing to do (which I struggle with) would be to simply watch your portions (Impossible to do at Chipotle, it’s just so good and you get so much).  Eat slower and less, and despite eating out regularly you’ll be at least making steps towards healthier living.

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