Let’s admit it the fact that most of us are happy to spend huge cash on restaurant-quality food because we thought that it’s significantly better than grabbing a Big Mac and fries.
However, research in the US has shown that eating out – regardless of whether it’s at a fast food place or in a classy restaurant – causes people to consume on average 200 more calories a day than home cooking.
According to Yahoo! News, a new study found both of these options offer considerably more fat, cholesterol and sodium than home-cooked meals. Ruopeng An, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, obtained data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which studied the eating habits of more than 18,000 American adults.
In a two-day period, approximately a third of participants ate fast food at least one of the days while a quarter ate full-service restaurant food at least one time. The participants who ate fast food consumed 190 more calories per day, 11 more grams of fat, 10 more mg of cholesterol and 300 more mg of sodium than those who ate home-cooked meals.
In comparison, those who ate at full-service restaurants consumed 187 more calories, 10 more grams of fat, nearly 60 more mg of cholesterol and at least 400 mg more sodium than those who dined at home.
Obese participants were more likely to consume more calories at full-service restaurants, and the least educated participants consumed the most calories from fast food. According to The Washington Post,
You may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast food this could be because one often spends more time eating and talking at full-service restaurants compared to fast food restaurants.
Before heading to a restaurant look up the menu online. This helps to avoid succumbing to the pressure of ordering before reading all of the options,” Rosenthal purportedly.
An, however, believes Americans are so misinformed about the quality of restaurant food, a public intervention may be the only way for diners to fully understand the reality of their dietary choices.
People don’t know much about the food provided by full-service restaurants, and if it is better or healthier compared to fast food or compared to food prepared and consumed at home. So people who consume food at full-service restaurants are not aware of the calorie and nutrient content in the food served [and] are more likely to overeat and are less cautious about the extra calories they intake from the full-service restaurant,” says An.
As an afterthought, based on these findings, the healthiest choice is simply to prepare our own nutritious meals at home, but in today’s busy world, most of us would find that pretty challenging to keep up. So if nothing else, at least it’s some consolation to know that grabbing a takeaway burger isn’t going to be that much worse for your calorie-count than forking out for a restaurant lunch, even if the nutrients you’ll be getting are few and far between.