Fast Food vs. Sit-Down Restaurants

Where is it often easier to consume more calories in one meal than you need in a whole day:fast food or sit-down restaurants? If you shouted out “fast food,” you’re wrong. Surprised? You’re definitely not the only one. Why is this the case? Let’s delve into just this question.

When you go to a sit-down restaurant the edible temptations begin almost immediately. What do they put in the middle of the table almost upon arrival? You got it, the bread/chip basket. Before we’ve even selected our entrée, we can eat more calories than we need in the entire meal (maybe even the entire day).  And what happens when we finish off that basket?  They bring us another one. At fast food restaurants, we don’t get the bread basket option.

Once we open our menus at a sit-down restaurant, we have a lot of choices including appetizer, main meal, sides and, of course, dessert. We can also order a variety of beverages, from water to fancy cocktails sporting umbrellas. Appetizers can be a huge calorie guzzler.  For example, the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin Onion has 1,959 calories! This is more calories than most of us need in a whole day. Granted, most of us would share this fried concoction, but we would likely have more what Outback considers a serving size, which weighs in at 326 calories. Staying with Outback, even if we order a salad for our main meal, we could find ourselves in trouble. The Aussie Grilled Chicken Salad with mustard vinaigrette has 1,030 calories. This is about double the amount of calories that many of us should consume the whole meal. At the end of the meal, if we order Sydney’S Sinful Sundae, you would add 958 calories. Outback figures the sundae to be two servings, so let’s call it 479 calories. Not including any bread eaten or a caloric beverage, if we went by the Outback serving size guide, we would still have 1,835 calories in one meal.  That is a day’s worth of calories for a lot of us.

Conversely, if we go to McDonald’s and have the Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (290 calories) with low fat balsamic vinaigrette (40 calories), a side of fries (230 calories – not recommended but trying to include something like the Bloomin Onion for comparison purposes) and a hot fudge sundae for dessert (330 calories – again not recommended but trying to be fair for comparison purposes), you would have had 890 calories, close to 1,000 calories less than the similar type meal at Outback Steakhouse. This McDonald’s meal could certainly be lightened up by not getting the fries and getting apple slices instead (15 calories) and if you wanted a dessert, you could get the Vanilla Cone (170 calories) or better yet the Kiddie Cone (45 calories).

There are many examples like this that I could give, and I do so my book. You can do your own comparisons by checking out the restaurants’ websites which all contain nutrition information. Most fast food restaurants also post nutrition information in their restaurants, and if you live in one of the states that require restaurants with 20 or more locations to post nutrition information, it makes it all the more easier. So take advantage of the information to make healthier choices!

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